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Exhibit 1.

1 Discussion Prompt #1 for Senior Seminar in Communication Theory

Rob Converse
Professor Berkos


Chapter 1 in, Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life, provided a general
introduction to communication theory. In doing so, it gave insight into what communication
actually is, some of the established definitions for communication and the distinctions between
them, the different contexts in which communication occurs, the nature of communication
competence, the difference between concepts, models and theories, the three different types of
theories and finally, the five criteria for evaluating theory, which help to determine a theorys
Throughout my journey as a Communication Major, I have always found the intricacies
and nuances behind communication interactions to be far more in depth than I had originally
perceived. Communication is such a widely varying and interchanging experience, it makes
sense why there are so many different theories about what communication actually is and what is
considered communication. Amongst all of these theories on communication, it had been
determined that three distinctions exist. They vary by level of observation, intentionality and
normative judgment. The first distinction, being level of observation, uses definitions of
communication that are concerned with what actually counts as communication. Some theories
indicate that a response must be elicited through a communication attempt and that
communication is achieved through the use of verbal symbols. These theories are broad in
observation and differentiate in what counts as communication. The second distinction between
theories in defining communication is the stance it takes on the intentionality of the
communication. Some theories and definitions indicate that in order for communication to take
place, the exchange of messages has to be on purpose. Such definitions imply source orientation,
while others imply a receiver orientation. Source orientated theories imply that the source of the

Exhibit 1.1 Discussion Prompt #1 for Senior Seminar in Communication Theory

message has to intentionally send the message whereas receiver oriented theories suggest simply
that, you cannot not communicate, meaning that anything you say or do is communicative
regardless of whether or not you wanted to send a message. The final distinction is that they vary
by normative judgment, the level of which the message was sent successfully or accurately.
Some theories, which are non-evaluative, suggest that even if people misunderstand a message,
communication still occurred. Others which are evaluative hold that shared meaning and
understanding in a communication experience is important in indicating whether or not
communication occurred.
In looking at all these distinctions between communication theories, it shows just how
interchangeable and different each communication interaction can be. Since I tend to be a very
systematic person, it is very thought provoking how unsystematic communication actually is. In
everyday communication interactions an individual is faced with different experiences each time.
Even if you go into an interaction with a predetermined plan for how it should play out, many
times, that plan is not followed. The process of communication leads to people having to think
on their feet and react to the many communicative symbols and cues that are going on all around
them. Even when people are not intending on verbally communicating to others, they have to be
conscious of their own actions and behaviors because they are sending nonverbal messages to
everyone around them. For example, a sick, coughing person and a quiet, hard working person in
a library. While the loud coughing, sick individual is most likely trying to keep to themselves,
they are sending a message to the people around them that might be bothersome. By contrast,
even the quiet, hard-working individual in the library is sending a message to others around
them. By working hard and being quiet they are nonverbally saying to others that they are busy
and would prefer not to be bothered. Due to the constantly varying nature of communication it is

Exhibit 1.1 Discussion Prompt #1 for Senior Seminar in Communication Theory

apparent as to why there are so many different theories regarding the definition of
Additionally, communication is different from any other area of study. When studying to
become an accountant, an engineer, to have a financial career, a career in business, etc., you learn
specific things that are needed for that field of profession after college. The reason
communication is so much different from other areas of study is because it is something that is
used in our everyday lives, as well as in any profession. Communication competence, regarding
effectiveness and appropriateness in communication, is something that can have a major impact
on your ability to succeed in a given profession. No matter what professional field you wish to
enter, communication will be present, and competent communication can be used to achieve
success in the profession.
Discussion Questions:
1. Looking at the different contexts for communication, which context do you believe is the
most constantly fluctuating by nature, and why?
2. In order to be a competent communicator the textbook indicates you should achieve a
balance between effectiveness and appropriateness. How can an individual make sure
they are setting and achieving their goals in a communication interaction, and how can
they do so by fulfilling social expectations?
3. After taking many communication courses as a major in the discipline, which
communication theory or theories have you noticed work in a particularly interesting way
to you?