Printer Friendly

Chi (Qi) process: the interplay of opposites in selected communication contexts.

When a squad of U.S. Navy snipers gunned down Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in his Pakistan hideout in May 2011, President Obama, along with some other top-brass senior staff, watched the shoot-out on live video in the White House. A highly-publicized photo later released by the White House showed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sitting at the head of the table with Obama half-stooping near the corner of the room (Drury, William, & Greenhill, 2011). Many internet discussants expressed their amazement in Chinese words at the photo showing the national leader on the sideline amid such a big event. They seemed to be shocked--as much as by the killing of Bin Laden--to see the leader of a major power in the world shown sitting on the backburner with his subordinate appearing as the central figure. Many asked how Obama could have been shown without "leader chi pie ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])," meaning the lack of a leader's dignity, magnificence, or splendor in this context."

Why was there such a clamor among Chinese internet forum participants while, in the West, e.g., in the English-speaking community, there was hardly any noise regarding the President's seating? Although there are a number of alternative explanations or answers to this question, the concept of chi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in the East and the lack of it in the West might be a major, if not primary, reason. Observations and remarks in this introduction narrative well illustrate and reflect a mindset of members of the chi culture to expect leaders to display chi in behaviors and appearances. However, those remarks are simply scratching the surface of the chi concept. It requires enormous deliberation for Westerners to understand what exactly chi is, how chi is produced, how communication plays a role in chi creation, and how chi affects communication. For example, to employ chi theory of communication in an analysis of the issue of the "presidential seating" in the case of "Obama watching Osama," one may contend that the President has the position of superiority (yang), while the staff has subordination (yin). Normally, when the president and the staff sit together, the seating position at the head table is traditionally yang (superior), while other seats are yin (inferior). The yin and yang strike a contrast- a perception interplay, which generates chi (for the superior). When Obama was not in a conventional, prominent, seating place, the organizational position-seating mismatch might have created a cognitive dissonance in the minds of members of the chi culture.

This article focuses on how yin and yang interplay to generate chi and impact on communication. I will first briefly introduce chi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and its relevance to communication to provide an orientation to the recently emerged chi theory of communication. The orientation will be followed by discussing the yin-yang interaction in interpersonal and then organizational communication contexts, the two most pervasive communication contexts in contemporary human lives. The article will conclude with some observations on how the chi theory of communication provides unique perspectives of communication theories.

Chi, yin-yang, and communication

The word chi is pronounced as "chee" in Chinese and ki in Japanese, Korean, and Holo Taiwanese languages and spelled as qi in People's Republic of China. Chi is a concept older than Lao Zi and Confucius. Most of its philosophical concepts and discussions originated from a passage in the book Lao Zi (Dao De Jing): "Myriad things carry yin and embrace yang, interplaying to generate chi (qi) to reach harmony." Chi has been referred to as energy flow in the English-language community. In practical use in the East, it contains multiple meanings in various contexts. In communication studies, it is defined by Chung (2008) as "energy or vitality generated by the interaction between the contrasting yin and yang property of matters, behaviors, or phenomena." Chi is an umbrella word; Many concepts in English similar to the concept are called chi. For example, atmosphere as a communication environment may be referred to as chi; Dynamic as communication effectiveness may be called chi; And, morale as a communication result may also be a kind of chi.

Conventionally, the word "yin," which denotes "shadow" in daily usage, represents "north of a mountain" and "yang" "south of the mountain." As the terms yin-yang evolved, yin symbolizes the feminine, the supple, the dark, the weak, the quiet ... while yang the masculine, the hard/stiff, the bright, the strong, the loud ... etc. Yin and yang are generic terms for opposites, including contradictions, dialectics, and regular contraries.

Yin-yang interaction can generate chi. Take speech as an example, Chung, (2011) points out that one may simply make a plain account of poor living conditions alone. But one may make the speech more fiery, forceful, and inciting (full of chi), first, by describing employees' miserable living conditions (yin) and, then, follow it with a portrayal of a company CEO's extravagant life style (yang). Comparing yin and yang in a message in our minds can be considered an interaction between yin and yang. The comparing process can be voluntary or involuntary. As a result of the comparison, the message appears to be full of power, dynamism, or chi. Returning to the case of the Obama photograph discussed earlier, a leader's taking the seat at the head table is a convention which has conditioned people's perception in, perhaps, most cultures. Such a seating arrangement has been associated with social status or organizational positions. The superior-subordinate typology (in organizational or in any other context) is a typically strong yin-yang opposite in chi cultures. Yin and yang interaction (in perception) has provided a mechanism in which people can tell or feel who plays the superior role and who subordinate. When seeing Obama stooping near the corner, a subordinate's place, people in chi culture may be relatively more sensitive to the misplacement than members of other cultures. People in the West may somewhat feel the same way as those in the chi culture, but the U.S. custom of a leader's frequent communicating the intention of acting informal, relaxed, or approachable might have mitigated such a feeling of misplacement. They may think the battle in Bin Laden's Pakistani hideout was not an executive-level move, but rather a job at the level of the Defense Secretary.

Yin-yang and communication

In the adage "myriad things carry yin and embrace yang ..." quoted above, "myriad things" literally refers to "ten-thousand things" in the original Chinese text. In Chinese language it means "virtually all things," including all materials, objects, plants, animals, human beings, ideas, thoughts, concepts, behaviors, states, phenomena, etc. In the same vein, there should be abundant yin and yang opposites in the components of the rudimentary definition of communication. For example, communicators can be aggressive (yang) or non-assertive (yin); messages may appear desolate (yin) or elated (yang); media may be "cold" or "hot" (as in the well-known typology asserted by Marshall McLuhan); feedback involves receiver (yin) and sender (yang). Each component can be both a system containing subsystems and, meanwhile, a subsystem contained in a system. Thus, there may be unlimited number of components and yin-yang pairs. In applied communication, for example, Chung & Ho (2009) point out some yin-yang relationships in public relations: organizations/practitioners vs. publics; management vs. employees; behind the scene jobs (e.g., research, objective setting, evaluation) vs. on-stage jobs (e.g., publicity events, communication activities, etc. (Within each of the opposite pairs, the yin and yang taxonomy is relatively flexible, though they depend on the conventional criteria stated in the earlier section of this essay.) Chung and Ho also point out that, even among the practitioners themselves, there are the contradictions between the technician role and the managerial role. The potential number of yin-yang interplay in communication, like in other contexts, is virtually myriad.

Although the chi theory of communication is drawn from Lao Zi's "yin-yang interplay" adage, the foundation of the theory is certain basic assumptions of Yi-Jing, (also spelled as I-Ching or called The Book of Change.") According to one of the assumptions of Yi-Jing, yin exists in yang and yang exists in yin. The yin seed in yang would grow and, through the process of "quantity change leading to quality change", eventually yang would transform into yin, and vice versa, which is a second Yi-Jing principle: yin-yang rotation. In other words, yin-yang, opposites in an interdependent whole may evolve to an extreme and repeatedly reverse themselves like the rotation of the four seasons in the Mother Nature. In the social world, for example, a union (being less powerful, thus yin) in an organization may use the management's abuse of power (more powerful, thus yang) to fire up its members' underdog resentment (yin) to empower them. Meanwhile, the management's overconfidence (yang) may appear so arrogant that it refuses to budge in a standoff, losing public sympathy and bargaining power. It, therefore, has to turn over the governance power to the union. The yin and yang thus rotate.

In social worlds, some yin-yang opposites are inevitable and critical to communication studies. The claim "all human beings are created equal" has long become a cliche, but it may not be sustainable in the social world. The equivalency in the social world typically does not exist. Gender, status, personality traits, and other differences emerge from dyadic contexts and extend though group, organizational, and social contexts. Such differences constitute the fundamental yin and yang opposites, with yin being in the internal, passive role, or of lower status and yang the external, active, or higher. For example, there are individual (yin) vs. organization (yang), organizational (yin) vs. environment (yang), or subordinate (yin) vs. superior (yang). As social roles develop, numerous categorizations of yin and yang proliferate. Some opposites are "quantitative opposites (or measurable yin-yang)," with opposites growing from quantity of difference. For instance, intimacy and non-intimacy can be measured by indicators such as coldness, sadness, and difficulty--or warmth, happiness, and ease (Knapp & Vangelisti, 1996). On the contrary, there are "qualitative opposites" (or categorical yin-yang), with opposites stemming from categories of various natures of things. For example, Gregory Bateson classifies communication according to its two aspects: report and command, which were renamed by Watzlawick as content and relationship (Watzlawick, Beaven, & Jackson, 1967, p. 54). In the following sections, I will discuss the selected dualities of yin and yang--first in the interpersonal communication contexts, and then in the organizational.

Yin-Yang interplay in interpersonal communication contexts

There are numerous yin-yang interplays that are identifiable and observable in interpersonal communication contexts. Baxter and Montgomery's relational dialectics theory may be the first interpersonal communication theory that comes closest to the yin-yang interplay. Although they do not employ the chi concept in their discussion on the yin-yang interplay, they do pay close attention to the yin-yang duality in discussing dialectics. (1) In fact, their three dialectics which influence interpersonal relationships are contradictory forces. (see Baxter, 2000, Baxter & Montgomery, 1996; Baxter, 1990). These forces may spur acute yin-yang interplays. The three contradictory forces include integration-separation, stability-change, and expression-nonexpression. Baxter even highlights five dialogical strands within Bakhtin's thought that dialogical moments are occasions for dialogue. She foregrounds the five strands to show "the centrality of dialogue in social life" (Griffin, 2006, p.167). Baxter and her colleagues further propose maintenance strategies to deal with the contradictions (Baxter & Simon, 1993; Baxter, 1988), which are more specific yin-yang interplay. In this essay, other contexts, mainly derived from certain selected theories and concepts, will be employed as contexts to explain the yin-yang interplay from the perspective of the chi theory.

Relation control

In interpersonal communication, members of a dyad can be classified as the submissive one and the dominant one in terms of the relative degree of control as shown in messages. The submissiveness can be identified in messages showing relinquishing control. The dominance, on the other hand, tends to be indicated by "directing, delimiting, and defining" the actions of a dyad (Millar and Rogers, 1976). In human communication, the locus of control in the dyadic communication is not fixed in communicator but is movable. In chi terms, yin and yang may switch places. When the submissive one is empowered by increased income or raised social status, for example, the message might turn from being submissive (yin) to being more assertive or even aggressive (yang). The dominant one may adapt to this new situation by becoming less controlling and thus both sides approach the balance point. That point may be where yin chi and yang chi peacefully start to coexist, at least temporarily, and harmony may be reached,.

Fisher (1984) labels the submissive messages as "one-down" messages, typified by acquiescing, agreeing, and the like. The dominant messages are termed as "one-up" messages, categorized by denials, disagreements, interruptions, topic changes, and so forth. The "one down" messages appear to acknowledge being in lower status, therefore, by conventional classification of yin and yang, can be labeled the "yin" in chi term. By contrast, "one-up" displays a message of power or defiance and falls in the "yang." A third label, "one-across," is assigned for messages of equivalence or a lack of control. Burgoon and Hale (1984) identified the relational message of dominance-submission as one of the seven major relational themes in interpersonal communication.

Adaptation requires communication to make decision on whether to go from "one-down" (yin) to "one-up" (yang). When both give "one up" (yang-yang) messages, tension arises, and radical or violent chi is generated. When both send "one-downs" (yin-yin), the relationship may appear stagnant and lacks actions, energy flow, or chi. When it is in yin-yang or yang-yin state, harmony exists--at least temporarily. Harmony is an emotional state reached when yin and yang are in mutually accepting condition and is the most ideal state. One-across messages are most likely communicated from both sides in the harmony state.

The yin-yang messages can indicate the relative power status (higher or lower) one perceived to have. But the perception may be changed by manipulating the situation through communication. For example, a widow missed traveling since her husband's death and wished to ask her son to include her on weekend trips with his family. She asked "Dear Abby" if it would be appropriate to make this request. This woman's letter prompted a suggestion by a reader: The lonely woman could organize a trip and invite her son and family along. That would allow her son an opportunity to reciprocate her invitation. The reader suggested that her action and her son's reaction could lead to a new family tradition. If we adapt Fisher's labeling typology and the yin and yang chi terms to this case, the woman's initial idea or request would put her in a yin chi (suppressed energy flow or a "one-down position"), and her son in a yang chi (dominant energy flow or a "one-up"). If she takes the reader's suggestion, then her act of set-up (inviting her son's family) would be based on the equivalency (harmony or "one-across") assumption, if not the superior "one-up." Such a yin-yang interplay would change the chi of the communicator (due to self-perception of the relative power status) and the chi of the dyad (the climate between the two parties).


Chi can play an important role in conflict management. One kind of chi in interpersonal communication is a personal appearance which helps the person appear to be radiating energy, dignity, majesty, grandeur, or arousing respect or awe. Another kind of chi is similar to the communication climate or atmosphere. The latter is the feeling between the communication partners, involving degrees of trust, comfort, or liking. It is the result of yin (self) and yang (other) interplay. Simply put, a person may make oneself appear respectable or intimidating. She may also contribute to the supportive or defensive communication climate. Either one will influence the

Equilibrium in nonverbal codes

Nonverbal message as an element in communication, like verbal messages illustrated in the previous section, may also be classified as yin or yang. Requests or invitations to establish or escalate relationships, for example, may be labeled as yang message because of its positive nature. Rejection of a request or disintegrating from a relationship, on the other hand, may be yin because of it negative nature. Making a decision to invite or to reject needs communication to seek information and to convey the decision. According to equilibrium theory in interpersonal nonverbal communication (Argile & Dean, 1965), people intend to maintain a comfortable degree of nonverbal intimacy. When person A increases the level of intimacy between her and person B with nonverbal messages, person B may compensate by reducing involvement with nonverbal cues. But person B may also reciprocate by escalating intimacy. Whether to compensate or to reciprocate depends on B's attribution to arousal. If person B attributes the arousal as negative, she may respond with compensation; if positive, reciprocity (Patterson, 1976).

The nonverbal messages here can be classified as yin and yang, which also interplay with each other. As stipulated earlier, negativity is conventionally labeled as yin and positivity, yang. Therefore, negative arousals can be considered yin, and positive ones yang. By the same token, of the response from person B, as shown in the bottom row of the table, compensation is yin and reciprocity is yang. The communication (as shown in the top row) and the attribution (in the middle row) constitutes the process of yin-yang interplay communication process and result. But yin and yang aspects in interpersonal conflict are not limited to the opposite of self and other. They include other elements of interpersonal communication such as self interests (yin) vs. relationship with others (yang), and intention (yin) vs. behavior (yang), etc.

To facilitate these styles, different degrees of "concern combinations" of yin and yang can mold different kinds of chi. People enter and maintain relationships to attain certain goals. But the personal goals and the relationships may not always be compatible, and conflicts may thus arise. Although communication may result in conflicts, communication plays a primary role in conflict resolution. Chi can generate a desirable atmosphere or desirable feelings to influence the communication process in conflict resolution. Before discussing chi's role in communication with regard to conflict, it is necessary to see how conflict arises.

Interpersonal conflicts involve two competing factors: personal interest vs. relationship concern. When the two are incompatible, conflicts arise, these two components or factors are competing in a person's mind, and a person faces a decision to choose one of them. Depending on give-and-take between the two factors and the two parties in conflict, one may adopt one of the following five communication styles. (For more details of the five styles, see Wilmot & Hocker, 2006.)

First, placing concern for others (an overt factor, thus yang) over concern for self (a latent factor, thus yin) would lead to the accommodating style. For example, a person may give up plan of writing a journal article (concern for personal goal) and go on vacation which his living partner has been eagerly pursuing for years (showing concern for others). This style of conflict management is called "accommodation."

Second, avoiding fighting for personal interest and meanwhile distancing the other person would cause withdrawal from the conflict and even the relationship. For instance, when a nasty neighbor's trees grow across the fence to one's backyard and the neighbor refuses to trim it (affecting personal interest), one may feel that, with a neighbor like this, it is not worth the hassle of a fight and decides to both stop raising this problem as an issue (i.e., forsaking the personal interest) and stop befriending the neighbors (i.e., not caring about the relationship). Both yin and yang chi disappear, therefore, the chi (energy flow between the two households) is a stagnant chi. This style of conflict resolution is called "withdrawal."

The third communication style involves fighting for personal interest at the expense of the relationship. This decision would prompt the conflict partner to take the aggressive style to deal with the conflict. A case in point is the lawsuits over rights to Barry Bond's record-setting 73rd homerun baseball (Armstrong, 2003). Spectator P originally caught the baseball with a glove but then lost it in the melee of fans. His friend, spectator H eventually claimed the prized souvenir. They ended up going to court, with Spectator P arguing that he was the first one who was able to get the ball, and that before the game they had agreed to share the prize regardless of whichever of the two caught the ball. The monetary reward was so lucrative that the friendship became as cheap to them as the dust on the baseball. (The ball was apparently monetarily valuable because, ordered by the judge, the souvenir baseball later sold for $450,000 at auction.) In this case, personal interest (yin) prevails over relationship (yang). This style is named "aggression."

Fourth, if one has moderate concern for both personal interest and relationship, she will adopt a compromise style: Both conflict partners step back somewhat enough to satisfy each other, although both also have to give up some personal gain. A typical example is that the two persons living at a distance stop insisting to meet in their own cities, and, instead, they agree to meet somewhere in the middle. Each loses something enough to somewhat satisfy the others' ego, face, or compensation of loss (e.g., gas, time, and travel). Adopting this style of conflict management style, called compromise, means both lose somewhat in personal interest and relationship. The cordial chi would suffer a little.

The fifth style is finding problem-solving methods, such as a third alternative, to preserve both self-interest and relationship with the conflict partner. This approach is called the collaboration style. One of the many creative way of resolving the conflict is "expanding the pie," by increasing resources to satisfy both conflict parties. An example would be a story of two leaders in a community fighting for a grant for their local own project. Taking the advice of an intermediary, they stopped attacking each other and bury the hatchet. They then collaborated on a proposal to win a funding which is large enough to complete both of their original projects. Both personal interest (yang) and relationship (yin) are preserved. The chi would be the most cordial.

Yin-Yang interplay in organizational contexts and media impact

Organizations and organizational communication are contradiction-ridden. In Chung's (2008) dichotomy, yin-yang in organizational communication can be classified into two categories from the organizational viewpoint: structural yin-yang and functional yin-yang. Structural yin-yang opposites are exemplified by formal vs. informal groups or networks, constraint vs. creativity, organization vs. environment, line vs. staff, superior vs. subordinate, etc. Functional yin-yang includes cognitive conflicts vs. task conflicts, personal goals vs. relationship concerns in conflict, stability vs. change. In addition, Seeto (2005) points out that differences and contradictions are most prominent in six managerial elements: goal vs. value premises, environmental awareness vs. information, decision-making vs. action, flow of value vs. creation, capability vs. knowledge, and visible vs. invisible resources.

To illustrate the yin-yang interplay in organizational communication, an episode in California politics can be helpful. In 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office sent a letter to members of California's state assembly, explaining why the governor was vetoing a bill dealing with financing for the Port of San Francisco. Read straightly, the governor's letter bemoaned "the fact that major issues are overlooked" while many unnecessary bills came to him for consideration," and concluded that he believed it was unnecessary to sign that measure at that time. However, vertically reading the far-left-hand letters in each of the memorandum's eight lines, one can detect an f-bomb: "I f-you." (Matier & Ross, 2009, p. A-1)

Although the governor's press secretary called the incidence a "weird coincidence" according to the report in San Francisco Chronicle, anyone who believed that to be unintentional deserves a few footnotes: First, the coded letter--if that was what it was--was responding to a bill initiated by assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who had just made news not long before by calling the governor a "liar" and shouting from the audience to "kiss my gay ass." Second, the governor's press secretary said that the governor had sent out letters in the past with linguistic lineups such as "soap" and "poet," which he said were also unintended (Matier & Ross, 2009). Although ostensibly the secretary seemed to be trying to explain away the "coincidence," the press secretary's employing the governor's track record in the meta-communication about the suspected "four-letter bomb" appeared to be reinforcing a possibly real message: The four-letter word was an intentional coding.

The concept of yin-yang interplay can serve as a larger framework to help two concepts or theories in organizational communication explain this flare-up: First, the classification of social-emotional vs. task messages; second, the theory of balance of constraints and creativity. They are further explicated as follows:

Social-emotional vs. task messages

There are theories or concepts in interpersonal communication that can illustrate the yin-yang typology (e.g., relational messages vs. content messages; and task vs. social orientation). By the same token, in organizational communication there is the categorization of social-emotional messages vs. task messages. In the "four-letter bomb" case, the yin-yang interplay can be view this way: The communication for enacting a bill (by Assemblyman Ammiano) and vetoing a bill (by Governor Schwarzenegger) are organizational communication (the more overt, formal, and harder aspect, thus to be labeled yang, according the conventional yin-yang designation rule). But emotion (the more latent, informal, and softer aspect, thus to be considered yin) often erupts in the task communication process due to personality clashes, resources fights, gruff language, or offensive manners. The urge to vent emotion as a play to strike a yin-yang balance (with task) is common and natural. In this case of the California drama, the governor's staff was venting their feelings of humiliation (due to the insult by the assemblyman) through the fun game but kept the "humor" within themselves as an inside joke (yin). To Governor's staff, the fun game through the inside joke can strike a balance with their work (yang), reaching a harmony.

After the game was reported to the public, however, the "fun game" became an insult (yang) and a political confrontation at work, which would lose fun. The insult exchange became political task vs. political task (yang-yang), losing the yin-yang interplay, thus losing harmony opportunity from the chi perspective (see Table 2).

In addition, since there is lack of emotion involved in the task communication, there may be need for social-motional communication to strike a yin-yang balance. That may be an alternative explanation for the motive of the "fun game." As political scientist O'Connor pointed out when commenting the four-letter bomb case, ". maybe the staff was having a good time" (Matier & Ross, 2009, p. A-1). In this case, Assemblyman Ammiano had already vented his emotion by insult, Governor Schwarzenegger or, at least, his staff members might have taken this opportunity to reciprocate. However, after the mass media reported the insult match, the messages which both sides sent became a yang-yang confrontation (insult to insult), rather than a yin-yang (the suppressed insult revenge to insult), therefore, harmony could not be reached.

Creativity vs. constraint

The second yin-yang interplay in organizational communication concerns is known as Structuration Theory. According to the theory of structuration, human behavior is an unresolvable tension between creativity and constraint (Wentworth, 1980). Eisenberg, Goodall, and Trethewey (2010) employ the theory to define organizational communication as the balance of creativity and constraint. They suggest that "communication is the moment-to-moment working out of the tension between individual creativity and organizational constraint" (p. 32). In the case regarding the apparently coded veto message from Governor Schwarzenegger, the governor's office might have had to suppress their urge to strike back (or do so for their boss, the governor, to seek affinity). But as a governor's staff member and administrator, the writer of the document did not have the luxury or was not in the position to publicly revenge himself. To balance out such a constraint (the relatively inactive, thus yin, according to the conventional yin-yang typology), they might have resorted to the "creativity (the relatively active, thus yang"). As Eisenberg etc. (2010, p. 32-37) point out, creativity can serve "as a strategic response to organizational constraints," and constraints serve as "construction of reality that limit the individual's choice of strategic response." Governor Schwarzenegger's staff thus created the coding game to cope with the social or political constraints. The yin-yang interplay thus helped avoid more intense conflicts and damages--if not creating harmony.

Discussion and Conclusion

The world is a symphony of opposites. The communication world is even more so. To make the music harmonious in communication, the symphony needs theories grounded in the opposites, including contrasts and dialectics. This study renders a more insightful observation into the working of interplays. However, with metatheoretical yin-yang perspective in this study of selected interpersonal and organizational communication contexts, we can see a relatively more panoramic view of communication and its theories. The analysis in this study indicates some unique features of communication grounded in the contrast. They are summarized as follows:

First, myriad communication carries yin and embraces yang. As demonstrated in the discussion of yin-yang of the components of communication (i.e., communicator, message, channel, feedback, etc.) yinyang opposites constitute various hierarchies at various levels (i.e., intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational, and societal); and various aspects of communication (e.g., conflict, relational control, organizational message--task and socio-emotional functions). Numerous yin-yang dualities or dialectics provide the cornerstone of communication systems. Yinyang contrast, therefore, is a useful macroscopic typology viewing complicate elements or phenomena.

Second, the "yin exists in yang and yang exists in yin" principle makes communication necessary and critical. Take conflict management for example. There are ample "concern for relationship" factors (yin) within the "concern for personal interest" factors (yang), and

vice versa. Otherwise, the compromise approach, for example, might not work. That is, when either "yin in yang" or "yang in yin" does not exist, there are no incentives to pursue relationships or personal interest for which the other side is concerned. As such, identifying yin-yang factors should be a way, if not the way, to resolve conflicts.

Third, this metatheoretical exploration surfaces a framework or paradigm that helps us get a bird's eye view of communication theories, rather than presenting another fragmented theory.

This study limits itself in the context of interpersonal and organizational communication. With other contexts explored, more generic principles will be derived.


Argile, M. & Dean, J. (1965). Eye contact, distance, affiliation. Sociometry, 28, 289-304.

Armstrong, C. (2003, July 10). Extra Innings for Baseball Litigation. Article posted on May 10, 2011, freedomline/current/guest commentary/baseball litigation.htm.

Baxter, L. (1988). A dialectical perspective on communication strategies in relational development. In S. Duck, (Ed.) Handbook of personal relationships. New York: John Wiley.

Baxter, L. (1990). Dialectical contradictions in relationship development. Journal of social and personal relationships, 7, 69-88.

Baxter, L. & Simon, E. (1993). Relationship maintenance strategies and dialectical contradictions in personal relationships. Journal of social and personal relationships, 10, 225-242.

Baxter, L. & Montgomery, B. (1996). Relating: Dialogues and dialectics, New York: Guilford.

Baxster, L. & Montgopmery, B. (2000). Rethinking communication in personal relationships form a dialectical perspective. In K. Dindia & S. Duck (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 31-53). New York: John Wiley.

Burgoon, J. & Hale, J. (1984). The fundamental topoi of relational communication, Communication Monographs, 51: 193-214.

Chung, J. (2011). Chi-based strategies for public relations in globalizing world. In N. Bardhan & K. Weaver (Eds.) Public Relations in Global Cultural Contexts: Multiparadigmatic Perspectives. 226-247. New York: Routledge.

Chung, J. (2008). The Chi/Qi/Ki of Organizational Communication: The process of generating energy flow with dialectics. China Media Research, 4 (3), 92-100.

Chung, J. & Ho, M. (2009). Public relations, I-ching, and chi (qi/ki) theory: A new model from an old philosophy. China media Research, 5 (3), 94-101.

Drury, I., Williams, D., & Greenhill, S. (2011, May 3). Obama watched Bin Laden die on live video as shoot-out beamed to White House: Osama-bin-Laden-dead-Photo-Obama-watching-Al-Qaeda- leader-die-live-TV.html#ixzz1PMroBuBf

Eisenberg, E., Goodall Jr., H., & Trethewey, A. (2010). Organizational communication: Balancing creativity and constraint (6th ed.) Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. nd

Fisher, B. A. (1984). Small group decision making. 2nd ed. New York, McGraw Hill

Griffin, E. (2006). A first look at communication theory. (6th ed.) New York: McGraw Hill.

Knapp, M. & A. Vangelisti (1996). Interpersonal communication and Human relationships (3rd). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Matier, P. & Ross, A. (2009, October 28). Did Schwarzenegger drop 4-letter bomb in veto? San Francisco Chronicle, A-1.

Milar, F. & Rogers, E. (1976). A relational approach to interpersonal communication. In Miller, G. (ed.) Explorations in Interpersonal Communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Patterson, M. (1976). An arousal model of interpersonal intimacy. Psychological Review, 83, 235-245.

Seeto, D. (2005). Guan li xieh de xin shi jie [The new world of management]. Taipei: Cosmopolitan Culture.

Watzlawick, P., Beavin J., & Jackson, D. (1967). Pragmatics of human communication, New York: Norton.

Wentworth, W. (1980). Context and understanding. New York: Elsevier.


Wilmot, W. & Hocker, J. (2006). Interpersonal conflict (7th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.

(1) Their book, Relating: Dialectics and dialectics, adopts the double-fish diagram as the cover picture.

Jensen Chung

San Francisco State University

Correspondence to:

Jensen Chung, Professor

Department of Communication Studies

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue

Table 1. Chi in nonverbal cues

Person A /             Increase       Decrease
Person B               intimacy       intimacy
                         (yang)         (yin)

Arousal attribution     negative      Positive
(inner thinking)         (yin)         (yang)

Response              Compensation   Reciprocity
(outer action)           (yin)         (yang)

Table 2 Influence of mass communication on yin-yang
interplay in the "coded letter" case

Interplay    Organizational   Interplaying   Resulting chi
Mass comm.   comm.            components     from interplay
impact       contents

Before       play (yin) to    yin-yang       harmonious
mass media   work (yang)                     (yin) chi in
report                                       governor's

After        insult (yang)    yang-yang      hostile (yang) chi
mass media   to                              between legislature
report       insult (yang)                   and administration
COPYRIGHT 2011 Edmondson Intercultural Enterprises
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Chung, Jensen
Publication:China Media Research
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Oct 1, 2011
Previous Article:Hierarchy (Dengji)--a pyramid of interconnected relationships.
Next Article:Divination/fortune telling (Zhan Bu/Xianming): Chinese cultural praxis and worldview.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters