Latin "communicare"—to share
"Process of using messages to generate meaning"
Process: Activity, exchange (communication is a two-way street
Meaning: Shared understanding
Components of Communication
- People: Source/sender & Receiver/listener
- Message: Verbal/nonverbal content. Two types: One sent and one received.
- Channel/means: Means by which message moves (live, tv, radio, internet,
- Feedback: Receiver response (+/-)
- Code: Verbal and nonverbal symbols (language and nonverbal)
- Encoding: Put thought, idea into code (put thoughts into words)
- Decoding: Assign meaning to code (determine what person meant)
Internal (in person) vs. external (environment)
Communication situation: Mood, atmosphere, etc.
- Communication begins with self: Our own self-concept, expectations, and
communication skills play a role in how we communicate with others.
- Communication involves others: Everyone is different and so messages
must be adapted to particular people and audiences. Communication competence
has to do with being able to adapt. Also, think of communication as a
dialogue--the act of taking part in a conversation, discussion or
negotiation. It is not a one way street!
- One can not NOT communicate: Everything we do has communicative
dimensions. Even when we don't acknowledge someone, we are sending a message
that we don't wish to communicate with that person. Our clothing demeanor,
etc. provide data to others. Thus, others are always taking meaning from us
whether we mean them to or not. A lot of communication is thus unintentional
but still, anything that influences another, is considered communication
under this principle. `
- Content and relationship dimension: Content dimension refers to the
literal meaning of a message; the relationship dimension is what the message
comments on the relationship between parties. Example : Father says to son,
"Go clean your room." On the content dimension the message means to that the
father wants the son to simply clean his room. On the relationship
dimension, the message means that the father has the power to tell the son
what to do. Son then will then respond by either being submissive and
cleaning room or may challenge the definition of the relationship by
refusing to clean room.
- Communication is complicated: See full model with components to show
complex nature of communication. This is why the "experts" in our "Veteran's
and Rookies" exercise put the following, "Communication means that
information is passed from one place to another" as the worst definition.
The experts rated the following as the best definition:
Communication does not refer to verbal, explicit, and intentional
transmission of messages alone. . .The concept of communication would
include all those processes by which people influence one another. . .This
definition is based upon the premise that all actions and events have
communicative aspects, as soon as they are perceived by the human being; it
implies, furthermore, that such perception changes the information which an
individual possesses, and, therefore, influences him.
This definition highlights the role of verbal and nonverbal
communication and takes unintentional communication into account.
'intentionality' into account. See the principle of "One can not Not
communicate" for more information.
- Communication can not be reversed: You can not take back what you
say/communicate. An apology will not "erase" an insult for example.
- Communication can not be repeated: Even giving the same message over and
over, the meaning will be slightly different. Example: Giving the same
speech to different audiences will yield different results because of the
different people, different time, context, etc.
Goals of Communication Study
Effective communication: Involves learning specific communication skills
and knowing how and when to adapt those skills depending on the situation,
people involved, etc.
Ethics: The National Communication Association, NCA, provides "nine
commandments" as ethical guidelines for communication:
We advocate truthfulness, accuracy, honesty,
and reason as essential to the integrity of communication.
We endorse freedom of expression, diversity
of perspective, and tolerance of dissent to achieve the
informed and responsible decision making fundamental to a
We strive to understand and respect other
communicators before evaluating and responding to their
We promote access to communication resources
and opportunities as necessary to fulfill human potential
and contribute to the well-being of families, communities,
We promote communication climates of caring
and mutual understanding that respect the unique needs and
characteristics of individual communicators.
We condemn communication that degrades
individuals and humanity through distortion, intimidation,
coercion, and violence, and through the expression of
intolerance and hatred.
We are committed to the courageous expression
of personal convictions in pursuit of fairness and justice.
We advocate sharing information, opinions,
and feelings when facing significant choices while also
respecting privacy and confidentiality.
We accept responsibility for the short- and
long-term consequences for our own communication and expect
the same of others.
Thus, common elements are:
Freedom of expression
Condemnation of "hate" etc.
Communication contexts: A context is a set of circumstance or situation. Here
are various communication contexts:
Public—single source to # of receivers who provide feedback
- Interpersonal—2 people
- Small group—3 or more, interdependent
Mass—single source to # of unseen receivers