Communication is a slippery concept

Communication is a slippery concept

Communication was taking place among the Trinity even before the Creator said, “Let there be light. ” And within a week of saying that, he had made a being who, having been created in His likeness, likewise communicated. The “Community of Persons” had created a being unlike any He had previously made. And as we gain a better understanding of communication, something in which both Creator and created participate, we will likely find ourselves better able to relate with God and with others.

Hundreds of explicit and implicit definitions of communication have been published in the communication and related literatures for use by scholars and practitioners trying to describe, predict, and understand communicative phenomena. These definitions vary around the common language definitions, with variations depending on individual scholarly interests and general scholarly trends.

In this paper nonetheless, we shall critically and clearly discuss the truthfulness of Sillars (1988) definition of communication as giving, receiving or exchange of information, options or ideas by writing speech or visual means or any combination of the three so that the material communicated is completely understood by everyone concerned and Asha (2005) definition of communication that, “it’s a two way process in which there is exchange and progression of ideas towards a mutually acceptable goal” with the help of three other scholars in as far as the definition of communication is concerned.

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The paper begins by giving other definitions to communication before the main discussion and later on drafts a conclusion. Communication is a slippery concept, and while we may casually use the word with some frequency, it is difficult to arrive at a precise definition that is agreeable to most of those who consider themselves communication scholars. Communication is so deeply rooted in human behaviors and the structures of society that it is difficult to think of social or behavioral events that are absent communication.

Given a set of requirements for a definition of communication, we can define communication as information that enters a process and eventually leaves its inverse process (Weekley, 1967: 338). For example, information is transmitted by speaking and received after processing by its inverse, hearing. This definition can be used to precisely describe and explain communication phenomena in an inclusive and exact manner. The nature of processes and their development is considered. Communication processes may support other processes, including non-communicative, evolutionarily adaptive processes supporting survival and reproduction.

Communication is expected to develop in self organizing systems, given certain assumptions. Receiving processes may be understood as information filters and their performance described, predicted, and understood. These precise definitions of communication and information can serve as the basis for a science of librarianship. “Communication,” which is etymologically related to both “communion” and “community,” comes from the Latin communicare, which means “to make common” or “to share. DeVito (1986: 61) expanded on this, writing that communication is “the process or act of transmitting a message from a sender to a receiver, through a channel and with the interference of noise”. Some would elaborate on this definition, saying that the message transmission is intentional and conveys meaning in order to bring about change. Putnam (2006: 43) defined Communication as a process by which we assign and convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding. This process requires a vast repertoire of skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating.

Use of these processes is developmental and transfers to all areas of life: home, school, community, work, and beyond. It is through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. The act of what is communication draws on a number of inter and intrapersonal skills like observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, dealing out and assimilating. The ultimate goal of communicating is to categorize the sender’s intent, understanding the message’s context and act upon it. Such skills now popularly known as communication skills are critical for any individual to grow.

These skills are necessary for forming healthy relationships and achieving success in work places. “Human communication occurs on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and public levels. Intrapersonal communication is communicating with yourself. It encompasses such activities as thought processing, personal decision making, listening, and determining self-concept. Interpersonal communication refers to communication that takes place between two or more persons who establish a communicative relationship.

Forms of interpersonal communication include face-to-face or mediated conversations, interviews, and small-group discussions. Public communication is characterized by a speaker’s sending a message to an audience. It may be direct, such as a face-to-face message delivered by a speaker to an audience, or indirect, such as a message relayed over radio or television” (Berko et al. 2007: 23) DeVito (1986: 239) said, “Communication is referred to as a process to emphasize that it is always changing, always in motion”.

A process, therefore, is a series of actions (purposive, some would argue), something that may be better thought of as a continuum, rather than a point. Anderson (1987: 24), while acknowledging that the concept of process is still poorly defined in research protocols, wrote, “The notion of process involves, at least, some time dimension which means that the characteristics, causes, and consequences of some communication act are subject to change over the life of the act” (ibid. ). A key element in communication, then, is this concept of “change. ”

Sillars (1988: 13) stresses that, communication requires a sender, a message, and a recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. Senders and receivers are of course vital in communication in both Sillars (1988) and Asha (2005) definitions, in face-to-face communication the roles of the sender and receiver are not distinct as both parties communicate with ach other, even if in very subtle ways such as through eye-contact (or lack of) and general body language. There are many other subtle ways that we communicate (perhaps even unintentionally) with others, for example the tone of our voice can give clues to our mood or emotional state, whilst hand signals or gestures can add to a spoken message. A message is a “signal or combination of signals that serves as a stimulus for a receiver” (DeVito, 1986: 201). This message may be either a sign or a symbol.

A sign, on one hand, is a natural, universally understood phenomenon such as thunder (which follows the occurrence of lightning) and smoke (which suggests that a fire is also present). A symbol, on the other hand, exists by human convention. The object commonly called a stop “sign” because it has been created by people to convey a message and because it is not natural and universally understood is an example of a symbol. A channel is the “vehicle or medium through which signals are sent” (Sillars 1988).

This channel may convey the message visually or aurally, for example. It can be the space between two people talking, an online discussion board, or a television set, and soon. And Noise is defined to be “anything that distorts the message intended by the source, anything that interferes with the receiver’s receiving the message as the source intended the message to be received” by both Sillars (1988) and Asha (2005). DeVito (1986: 207) went on to identify three types of noise: physical noise, psychological noise, and semantic noise.

The first type of noise interferes with the physical transmission of the signal or message: he gave the examples of cars screeching, air conditioners humming, a speaker’s lisp, and sunglasses. Psychological noise, on the other hand, may include biases and prejudices, in both the sender and receiver that lead to distortions in receiving and processing information: closed mindedness, for example. In semantic noise, according to Asha (2005), “the interference is due to the receiver failing to grasp the meanings intended by the sender. He listed jargon, technical, or complex terms as being examples of semantic noise. Most of those who study communication would identify one’s upbringing as the sole source of psychological noise. There are cases, however, when the source of interference is spiritual. The “evil one” is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as interfering with people’s reception and understanding of the Gospel. For example, Jesus said, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart” (Matthew 13:19, NIV).

God is able to protect His chosen, however, by placing a “hedge” around them, which protects them from Satanic interference (Job 1:10). Jesus further countered this satanic noise by opening His followers’ minds so that they were able to accurately perceive and interpret the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). According to Mambert (1971: 4), a person communicates with another “to change what he thinks or does not think, feels or does not feel, knows or does not know”. He went on to say, “Communication itself is that change”.

Change, then, refers to the influence one has on another’s knowledge or behavior. Scripture indicates that the purpose of communication was not solely to bring about a change in the behavior or knowledge of the one who receives the message. There were times when God, who never changes, spoke with Himself: “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26, NIV) and “The man has now become like one of us…. he must not be allowed to… ” for example. It appears, then, that communication existed before the creation and subsequent fall of Mankind.

For this definition of human communication, however, it is sufficient to say that the purpose of communication is to influence the knowledge or behavior of the receiver. According to Putnam (2006: 43) Communication is defined as “The transference and understanding of meaning”. Communications is required for survival, co-operation, power and social needs. Communication involves downward, upward and lateral . Communication in an organization has the function of controlling the members, motivating, providing information and providing emotional expression for the members of an organization (ibid. ).

It includes verbal and non-verbal just like Sillars (1988) and Asha (2005) definitions of communication. It can be further specified that communication is required for social purposes, personal intentions, economic requirements and artistic expression (Putnam, 2006: 55) as it encompasses sharing information between two or more individuals, the act of conveying information. Because communication has so many components, failing to effectively communicate in the workplace is commonplace. Noted however is that, many scholars have defined Communication as the exchange of messages between two or more people.

Every one communicates in many different ways and for many different reasons. Communication can be expressive or receptive. Children who are deaf-blind may never learn to talk. However, they can express themselves to you. They can receive the messages you send them. Through communication, children can make changes in their world. They can ex press their wants and needs. They can make choices. And through communication, you can teach your child to play, to learn about the world, to interact with you, to do daily tasks, and to work.

There are many different ways for a communication sequence to be intentionally disrupted, such as propaganda techniques, misinformation, and even disinformation. The question of what is communication should be addressed depending on the intended recipients and medium used to deliver the messages. Conclusion A good understanding of communication, a dynamic process in which organisms strive to convey meaning to one another (and to oneself, one can argue), is fundamental in gaining understanding of events, objects, and other people.

The definition and model presented here lay a sound foundation which may facilitate understanding of the process of communication. And finally we might say that communication consists of transmitting information from one person to another. In fact, many scholars of communication take this as a working definition, and use Lasswell’s maxim (“who says what to whom to what effect”) as a means of circumscribing the field of communication. Others suggest that there is a ritual process of communication that cannot be artificially abstracted from a particular historical and social context.

As a relatively young field of inquiry, it is probably premature to expect a conceptualization of communication that is shared among all or most of those who work in the area. Furthermore, communication theory itself is, in many ways, an attempt to describe and explain precisely what communication is. References Anderson, J. A. (1987). Communication research: Issues and methods. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. Berko, R. et al. (2007), Communicating: A Social and Career Focus. Houghton, Colson, C. (1989). Against the night. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications.

DeVito, J. A. (1986). The communication handbook: A dictionary. New York: Harper & Row. Habermas, J. (1984). The theory of communicative action, vol. 1. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Mambert, W. A. (1971). The elements of effective communication. Washington, DC: Acropolis. Putnam, L. (2006). Definitions and approaches to conflict and communication. In Oetzel and Ting-Toomey. Sillars, S. (1988). Success in Communication. Hodder Murray and John Murray publishers Weekley, E. (1967). An etymological dictionary of modern English (Vol. 1). New York: Dover Publications.