What is Communication?
Introduction You have been communicating all your life; you might wonder why you need to study communication? One answer is that formal study can improve skill. Some people have a natural talent for singing or cricket. Yet they could be even more effective if they took voice lessons or studied theories of offensive or defensive play. Likewise, even if you communicate well now, learning more can make you more effective. Theories and principles of communication also help us make sense of what happens in our everyday lives, and they help us to have influence. You are born with the capacity to communicate. You are capable of making utterances and gestures that enable us to send messages to other people. Being able to communicate well is, however, a skill. You spend more time communicating than doing anything else. We talk, listen, think, share confidences with inmates, ask and answer questions, participate on teams, attend public presentations, exchange information with coworkers, watch television programmes and so forth. From birth to death communication is central to our personal, professional, and civic lives. In that sense, communication is the foundation of an effective democratic and multicultural society.

Defining Communication
A definition is a useful and logical place to start our exploration of communication. Definitions clarify concepts by indicating their boundaries. They focus attention on what is important about whatever it is we are defining. Unfortunately, no single definition of communication does this to everyone’s satisfaction. Communicating well or poorly can spell the difference between success and failure in human relationships of almost every kind. Most of us already have deeply established communication habits that serve us well or poorly and may be difficult to change. But whatever skill we may possess, we can always improve. Communication is the act of transmitting verbal and non-verbal information and understanding between seller and buyer. The process by which information and feelings are shared by people through an exchange of verbal and non-verbal messages

Features of Communication
'The definition of communication has three important facets. We'll discuss each of them. Process - Communication is a process, which means that it is ongoing and always-in motion. It's hard to tell when communication starts and stops because what happened before we talk with someone may influence our interaction, and what occurs in a particular encounter may affect the

future. That communication is a process means it is always in motion, moving forward and changing continuously. We cannot freeze communication at anyone moment.

Systemic - Communication takes place within systems. A
system consists of interrelated parts that affect one another. In family communication, for instance, each family member is part of the system. In addition, the physical environment and the time of day are elements of the system that affect interaction. People interact differently in a living room than they do on a beach, and we may be more alert at certain times of day than others. The history of a system also affects communication. If a family has a history of listening sensitively and working out problems constructively, when someone says, "There's something we need to talk about," the others are unlikely to become defensive. On the other hand, if the family has a record of nasty conflicts and internal strife, the same comment might arouse strong defensiveness. Communication is also affected by the larger systems within which it takes place. For example, different cultures have distinct understandings of appropriate verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Many Asian cultures place a high value on saving face, so Asians try not to cause personal embarrassment to others by disagreeing overtly. It would be inappropriate to perceive people from Asian cultures as passive simply because they don't assert themselves in the same ways that many Westerners do. Arab cultures consider it normal to be nearer to one another when talking

than most Westerners find comfortable. And in Bulgaria, head nods mean no rather than yes (Munter, 1993). Thus, to interpret communication we have to consider the systems in which it takes place.

Symbolic - Communication is symbolic. It relies symbols,
which are abstract, arbitrary, and ambiguous epresentations of other things. We might symbolize love by giving a ring, saying "I love you," or closely embracing the other person. A new title and a larger office can symbolize a promotion. Remember that human communication involves interaction with and through symbols.

The need for Communication
A human being’s need for communication is as strong and as basic as the need to eat, sleep and love. It is both an individual and a social need. It is both a natural demand and a requirement of social existence to use communication resources in order to engage in the sharing of experiences, through symbol-mediated interaction. The severest punishment for a child is to be isolated, to be left alone, not to be spoken to. Grown ups too and especially the aged need company, need to communicate. Society punishes criminals by locking them up in solitary cells, thus starving them of basic need, and indeed the fundamental right to communicate. Communication involves active interactions with environments- physical, biological and social.

The basic human need for communication can perhaps be traced to the process of mankind’s evolution from lower species. Animals for instance, have to be in sensory communication with their physical and biological surroundings to find food, protect themselves and reproduce their species. A loss of sensation- the inability to hear a predator, for instance- can mean loss of life. Similarly, to be lost from primitive social communicationfrom the pack, from the herd or the tribe- is to be condemned to death. Those who have been isolated for a period of time from human company are known to have experienced nightmarish hallucinations. Indeed, social isolation can also be hazardous to the heart as much as to the mind. It is estimated that single men without close friends run two or three times the risk of developing heart disease as their more sociable counterparts. However, lack of communication can be as disorienting an experience as too much of it. Indeed, the apparent effects of sensory deprivation and sensory overload are frequently similar: anxiety, apathy, impaired judgement, strange visions and something akin to schizophrenia. The information explosion brought about by satellite television, the Internet and other technologies is an instance of this sensory overload. • Personal Life

• Professional Life • Civic life


Personal Life George Herbert Mead (1934) said that humans are talked into humanity. He meant that we gain personal identity by communicating with others. In our earliest years our parents told us who we were: "You're smart," "You're so strong," "You're such a funny one." Wefirst see ourselves through the eyes of others, so their messages form important foundations of our self-concepts. Later we interact with teachers, friends, romantic partners, and coworkers who communicate their views of us. Thus, how we see ourselves reflects the views of us that others communicate. The profound connection between communication and identity is dramatically evident in children who are deprived of human contact. Case studies of children who were isolated from others show that they have no concept of themselves as humans, and their mental and psychological development is severely hindered by lack of language. Communication also directly influences our physical well-being. Research consistently shows that communicating with others promotes health, whereas social isolation is linked to stress, disease, and early death (Crowley, 1995). People who lack close friends have greater levels of anxiety and depression than people who are close to others (Hojat, 1982; Jones & Moore, 1989). Heart disease is also more common among people who lack strong interpersonal relationships (Ruberman, 1992). Personal Relationships Communication is a key foundation of personal relationships.


We build connections with others revealing our private identities, asking questions, listening to the answers, working out problems, remembering shared history, and planning a future. A primary distinction between relationships that endure and those that collapse is effective communication. People who learn how to discuss their thoughts and feelings, adapt to each other, and manage conflict constructively tend to sustain intimacy over time. Communication is important for more than solving roblems or making disclosures. For most of us, everyday talk and nonverbal interaction are the essence of relationships. Although dramatic moments affect relationships, it is unremarkable, everyday interaction that sustains the daily rhythms of our intimate connections.

Professional Life
Communication skills are critical for success in professional life. The importance of communication is obvious in professions such as teaching, law, sales, and counseling, where talking and listening are central to effectiveness. Many attorneys, counselors, and businesspeople major in communication before pursuing specialized training. Even highly technical jobs such as computer programming, accounting, and film editing require communication skills. Specialists have to be able to listen carefully to the needs of their clients and customers. They also need to be skilled in explaining technical ideas to people who lack their expertise. Developing ommunication skills is important no matter what your career goals are.

Civic life
Communication skills are also important for the health of our society. From painting on the walls of caves to telling stories in village squares to interacting on the Internet, people have found ways to communicate with each other to build a common social world. To be effective, citizens in a democracy must be able to express ideas and evaluate the ethical and logical strength of claims other people advance. To make informed judgments, voters need to listen critically to candidates' arguments and responses to questions. We also need to listen critically to speakers who make proposals about goals for the institutions at which we work, as well as those on which we depend for services. Communication skills are especially important for effective, healthy interaction in a socially divers world. In pluralistic cultures such as ours, we need to understand and work with people who differ from us. Healthy civic and social engagements depend on our ability to listen thoughtfully to range of perspectives and to adapt our communication to diverse people and contexts. Communication is important for personal, relationship, professional, and civic and cultural well-being. Because communication is a cornerstone of human life, your decision to study it will serve you well


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful