Characteristics of Communication

Communication is the way through which we give and pass meaning in an attempt to generate common understanding. Communication requires a variety of skills both interpersonal and intrapersonal so as to enable people to listen, observe, speak, ask questions, analyze, and evaluate information. A sender, a message, and projected receiver of the information make up communication process (Kress, 1988).

The receiver should be alert on what is to be communicated in time and place even not present or conscious of the sender’s intentions to communicate. This means communication can occur over long distances. Communication can be considered successful, when the intended message by the sender will be encoded and understood by the receiver. Feedback is essential for efficient communication process. Communication skills are crucial in all parts of life including work, home, school and community at large. For outstanding teamwork and collaborations, affective communication is indispensable.

Human communication takes various forms, which include non-verbal and verbal communication. This includes facial expressions, sign language, body language, eye contact, as well as, media through sounds, pictures, writing and graphics. People with disabilities also include display of text, tactile communication, large print and Braille among others. Deliberate and unintentional manipulation of gestures and words, so as to get the information we want, is referred to as manipulative communication. This is by corrupting, discounting, offending and assuming the cherished normal way of communication, for example, sarcasm, irony, criticism and swearing.

There are different levels of communication: interpersonal communication (communication between two people), intrapersonal communication (communication within one person), between small groups of up to 25 people, large groups of more than 25 people, organizations in business and administrative functions and in public, where the information is intended for a large audience and across many cultures such as in international forums.

The four main characteristics s of communication are the sender or the source, the message, the receiver and feedback. The paper will focus broadly on two theories; Adaptive Structural Theory and Communication Accommodation Theory.

Adaptive Structural Theory (AST)

Adaptive Structural Theory is founded on Structuration Theory by Antony Giddens. Structuration Theory deals with how social systems produce and reproduce as members use resources and rules in their interactions.  Desantics and Poole who called it Adaptive Structural Theory (AST) studied the use of structuration in communication, especially in information technology (Kress, 1988).

AST looks at the role of information technologies in the way organizations undergo changes over time. AST looks at the kinds of structures that come up due to the advancement of technology. It also looks at the emerging structures due to the actions of humans as individuals and technologies interact.

The theory observes the growth of groupings and organizations and estimates them as systems with communication networking and relationships links, which can be observed. There is a mutual relationship between systems and the structures where both seem to be in an ending production and reproduction cycle, which is called a structuration process. This process is mostly stable, although it changes substantially with time.

Looking at organizations and groups from a structuration point of view helps in comprehending the balance in influences that determines spirited forces that show a group exceptional characteristic. It also helps to clarify the evolutionary ways of organizations and groups. The structuration perspective helps in recommending possibilities through which members can have more freedom to influence upon others..

AST is used in the analysis of the extent of different inventions like radio, printed press, TV, telegraphs and telephones to indicate how the named innovations structures have been embraced in society. It also shows the effects of such innovations on them and demonstrates how social configurations of such societies influence and transform the innovations novel goal. The use of AST helps observe the implementation and effects of latest media technologies in society.

Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT)

The theory was formulated by Howard Giles, it proposes to change communication process, such as the vocal pattern and gestures when people are interacting with each other.  This theory helps to look at the reasons as to why people are keen or show reduced interest in social variations between those who are communicating. This is possible through both verbal and non-verbal communication.

CAT looks at the connection between context, language and identity. It focuses on interpersonal factors as well as the intergroup factors that help to provide better  accommodation. The effects of power in  micro and macro-context issues of communications are also observed  using CAT (Hynes, 2010).

The two main processes of accommodation as by CAT are convergence and divergence. Convergence processes are ways through which individuals get used to each other’s communication actions and behaviors so as to minimize such social disparities. Divergence process occurs in situations where people emphasize when speaking and the non-verbal discrepancies between themselves and with those they are communicating to.

One assumption of CAT is that people portray their backgrounds and fields of expertise through their interactions when speaking and through behaviors, showing that disparities between speaking and behaving occur in every conversation (Horton, 1995).

Another assumption is that individuals’ perception and evaluation of what happens during a conversation affects accommodation, and this is how individuals’ interpretation and judgment are made in a conversation. This is because social status and class level come up when people are communicating. Because of this, people of a given group will get involved in conversations with people of the same group, because they will accommodate them.

The final assumption is that accommodation depends on the norms of society and suitability of the situation.

In the work place and companies, effective communication is a crucial factor for top quality management.  The way in which individuals talk to each other in the work place as well as their perception is a crucial determinant of how successful the business will be. Reduced productivity, low quality, lack of trust amongst workers attributed to poor communication in industries and business.

The communication procedure is the key towards excellent communication. Sharing of the same meaning between two or more people can only be realized, if individuals adhere to the process so as to be of creative and productive enough in any area o f specialization. Understanding is closely tied to efficient communication (Horton, 1995).

The main parts of the process are encoding, medium of transmitting the message, decoding and feedback. The sender, who starts the communication process, is held accountable with making sure that the message reaches the intended target in the right form. The attitude, experience, skills, knowledge, culture, and perception of the sender affect the message.

Encoding involves transforming information to a message into symbols representing the idea and concept intended. The symbols include words  or gestures which contain information  the receiver should understand.  The best way to boost encoding is by encoding the information from the perceiver’s perspective (Hynes, 2010).

When staring to send a message, a sender uses a channel, which is a means to pass a message. The channel can be oral, written or visual. Using the wrong channel inhibits communication. Decoding then follows, which the receiver does and later feedback to complete the process and confirm the message has been received or not.

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