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transmission channel

Back-channel

In telecommunications

A back-channel (also reverse channel or return channel) is typically a low-speed, or less-than-optimal, transmission channel in the opposite direction to the main channel.

See: Return channel

In diplomacy

A back channel in the language of diplomacy is an unofficial channel of communication between states or other political entities, used to supplement official channels, often for the purposes of discussing highly sensitive policy issues. See also Track II diplomacy.

In linguistics

In linguistics, back-channeling is the practice of giving positive comments, such as "uh-huh" or "yes" to the other speaker, to encourage further talk or to confirm that one is listening. In Chinese and particularly Japanese, back-channeling is very common, to the extent that non-native speakers may perceive it to be excessive or distracting. In American Sign Language, back-channeling is a major part of communication.

In business

In business, back-channeling is an organizational practice that involves bypassing recognized or official communication processes, usually by sharing information anonymously up the reporting structure at least two levels, in order to create vulnerability at the level(s) skipped. It is a means by which lower-level members can manipulate perceived power differentials with a superior through a more senior accommodating manager in the organization.

In medicine

In medicine, back-channeling is much the same as in the business application which involves "inappropriate organizational practice" as it comprises the disparate exchange of data on a patient in utilizing their medical records. The Veterans Administration may do less back-channeling than other medical systems because they openly admit to "flagging" problem patients in their computer system, and they strive to give disclosure and apologies for medical mistakes. On the whole, any back-channeling efforts in medicine are usually done as the result of risk management practices.

In public speaking

In public speaking, back-channeling is the practice of electronically passing notes among some or all of the audience/students during the lecture. When sanctioned, this practice is particularly useful for speakers who are attempting to dynamically modify their presentations based on immediate feedback from the audience. When unsanctioned, this practice is often very distracting for the presenter. Meebo and Twitter are common back channeling devices, although any chat room style device works well.

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