Chapter 3 Communication (UGC NTA NET JRF Teaching and Research Aptitude Book)
Communication: Meaning, Types And Characteristics Of Communication
Communication plays a vital role right from our childhood.
It is not only a specifi c tool which is essential for our survival but also a basic right. This modern age of communication is characterized by speed, effi ciency and the ability to transcend physical or geographical limitations. The dictionary meaning of communication is ‘to exchange (thoughts) or convey (information or feelings) by oration, writing or other means to disseminate data.
Communication is more than just messaging or swapping information, where words are not the only tool to be prioritized but also our senses. In order to convey or communicate some information in our dayto- day interactions, the parameters, such as our facial expression, oral tone, body language, ability to listen with patience are the contributing factors in delivering a message.
Communication is the most integral part of human nature. Human beings have a compulsive urge to communicate with each other as more than 70% of their time is spent in communicating with others.
No meaningful understanding is possible without communication.
Of all the creatures, man has the ability and power to express in words. The evolution of mankind is basically the story of his/her progress in communication methods. There are many definitions of communication.
According to Oxford Dictionary, ‘Communication is transferring or conveying of meaning’.
According to Little, ‘Human communication is the process by which information is passed between people by means of previously agreed symbols, in order to produce a desired response’.
Communication is the form of interaction that takes place through symbols. The symbols may be gestural, pictural, plastic, verbal, or any other which operate as stimuli to behaviour which would not be evoked by the symbol itself in the special conditions of the persons who respond.
In communication process, the sender (encoder) encodes the message and then using a medium/ channel, sends it to the receiver (decoder) who decodes the message, and after processing the information, the receiver sends back appropriate feedback/reply using a medium/channel.
It is important to mention that effective communication always includes feedback.
Models Of Communication
There have been dozens of models of communication. Though no direct question has been asked from them, but sometimes references have been found in the form of questions. Aristotle Model of Communication includes three communication elements, such as the speaker, subject and audience. According to him, persuasion was a result of the influence that a speaker makes, he used ‘discovery of the available means of persuasion’ for defining the whole art of persuasive communication. Schramm (1964) talked about the role of ‘Field of Experience’ (type of orientation or attitudes) in his communication model. Figure 4.2 Schramm Communication Model Katz’s (1957) in his ‘Intermediary Model of Communication’ in ‘speaker, gatekeeper and audience’ talks about the role of ‘gatekeepers / intermediaries’, also called about censor groups.
Shannon and Weaver (1949) provided a visual mode of communication system in relation to electronic media popularly referred to as ‘Mathematical model of communication’.
It is helpful to examine communication and communication theory through one of the following viewpoints:
1. Mechanistic: The perfect transaction of a message from the sender to the receiver.
2. Psychological: The sending of a message to a receiver and emotions of the receiver upon interpreting the message.
3. Social constructionist (Symbolic interactionist): It sees the product of the interactants sharing and creating of meaning of message, while ‘transmission model’ sees communication as robotic and computer- like situation.
4. Systemic: The new messages created via ‘through-put’, or what happens as the message is being interpreted and reinterpreted as it travels through people.
5. Critical: A source of power and oppression of individuals and social groups. Inspection of a particular theory on this level will provide a framework on the nature of communication as seen within the confines of that theory.
Theory of Communication
Shannon and Weaver talked about the three levels of problems in the communication of information. The three levels are technical (signals), semantic (interpretation of meaning) and influential (effectiveness). Though the model attempts to explain the process of communication further, it is a linear, one-way communication model without any emphasis on feedback.
Shannon and Weaver talked about the following concepts as well.
1. Entropy: The information can be measured by entropy, i.e., one’s ‘degree of freedom of choice’ to select a message. The ratio of the actual to the maximum entropy is called relative entropy.
2. Redundancy: The amount of information that can be eliminated or added Communication in a noiseless channel, so that the message would still have meaning.
3. Channel capacity: The amount of information that can be transmitted per unit of time. Beyond optimum level of information would lead to errors. There are certain limitations of this model, it is usually applied more for interpersonal communication than group communication and mass communication.
Here, sender plays the primary role that sends messages and receiver plays the passive part. Feedback is taken as less important in comparison to the messages sent by the sender.
Leagan’s model (1961) focused upon communicator, message or content, channels of communication, treatment of message, audience and audience response/feedback.
Helical Model of Communication
Frank Dance proposed a communication model inspired by a helix in 1967, known as helical model of communication. A helix is a three-dimensional spring like curve in the shape of a cylinder or a cone. The model is linear as well as circular combined and disagrees the concept of linearity and circularity individually.
This is another way of dividing up the communication field. Craig proposes seven different traditions as listed below.
1. Rhetorical: The practical art of discourse.
2. Semiotic: The mediation by signs.
3. Phenomenological: The experience of dialogue with others.
4. Cybernetic: The main flow of information.
5. Socio-psychological: The interaction of individuals.
6. Socio-cultural: The production and reproduction of the social order.
7. Critical: As a process in which all assumptions can be challenged.
Berlo tried to explain communication as S-R Model or sender-receiver model, where sender stands for stimulus and receiver stands for response. This was later extended to S-M-C-R Model that stands for Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver.
It is the basic communication process. It is a linear model of communication, there is no two way communication. There is no concept of feedback. There is no noise as well and so no concept of barriers in communication.
Alex Fish has given three models of communication which have been listed below.
1. Transmission/Linear model: Communication is just one thing. There is no feedback.
2. Interactive model of communication:
Communication is sending and receiving.
Interactive model is also known as convergence model. Field of experience is a communication pattern alteration factor, like culture, social, psychology, situation and channels use.
3. Transactional model of communication:
Communication is integrated in our internal realities.
Brown and Yule (1983) use two terms to describe the major functions of language. The functions of language where the transfer of information is involved is called ‘Transactional’ and that function involved in expressing social relations and personal attitudes is called ‘Interactional’.
1. A: There’s no message for you (Transactional) B: Ok 2. A: How are you? (Interactional) B: Fine, thank you.
Mass Media Model
We have mass media in our syllabus. It has been discussed under communication types. Here we want to discuss a communication model called as the ‘Attention-gaining Model ” or “Attention Model”. It is essential communicative activity of mass media to attract and keep attention. Communication has three models – Transmission, Expression/Ritual and Attention-gaining.
Mass Media Model Sender’s
|Mass Media Model||Sender’s|
|Transmission||Transfer of meaning||Cognitive|
1. The Transmission model is mostly linked with institutional contexts such as education, religion and government. It is, however not relevant to most media activity.
2. The ritual model shares some elements with the transmission model, but emphasises more on external interpretation by observers than the stated purpose of receivers and senders.
3. The attention gaining model comes closest to the main media goal of attracting audiences. Audiences view media as escapist and diversionary. Thus it is in conflict with the above two models. Media culture and practice have a lot to do with the attention- holding goal. Attention is measurable in the time allotted and the intensity of involvement with the type of content. Attention-display forms and associations are associated with the service mode. The mass communication market is mainly concerned with attention more than anything else. This is what sells the medium to the advertisers.
Types Of Communication
We communicate with each other in various ways, where it totally depends upon the message and context in which it is being forwarded. The choice and style of channel also affects communication.
Classification on the Basis of Relationship Element
1. It is communication within an individual almost all the times, including talking to oneself, listening to oneself and relating one to oneself.
2. It includes individual reflection, meditation, contemplation and even praying to God.
3. We conceptualize and formulate our thoughts or ideas before we actually indulge in overt communication.
Muttering ‘Oh My God’, ‘Oh No’ (when in trouble), ‘Wow’ and ‘Thank God’ are few common examples of intrapersonal communication.
1. It is also termed as dyadic communication.
2. It is universal form of face-to-face routine communication between two people, both sending and receiving messages.
3. It may be formal or informal, verbal or non-verbal.
4. It takes place anywhere by means of words, sounds, facial expression, gestures and postures.
5. It is an effective communication situation because you can get immediate feedback.
6. Due to proximity between the sender and the receiver, interpersonal communication has emotional appeal too. It can also motivate, encourage and coordinate work more effectively than any other form of communication.
7. The efficacy of interpersonal communication depends very much on the mutual relationship between two partners in communication, their status, roles and skills.
8. It has greater scope for grapevine.
Interpersonal communication can be further subdivided into formal (meeting and conference) or informal (private discussion with family members or friends).
Group communication situations are quite common in day-to-day life. Our educational background, profession, economic status, religious affiliation, etc., distinguish us and make us belong to one or more groups at the same time. A group is a number of people that has a common goal, interact with one another to attain the goal, recognize one another’s existence, and see themselves as part of the group. An individual may belong to more than one group simultaneously. Since the large majority of us do not live alone, we consequently live in groups – all kinds of groups.
Groups may be of two types, namely primary and secondary.
According to C. H. Cooley, primary groups are composed of individuals with intimate, personal relations and who interact face to face, figuratively and not literally. It is the degree of intimacy or social distance rather than physical distance which determines the primary group. The family is considered a primary group. The other examples of primary group are play groups, kinship groups, labour groups, clan, etc.
Secondary groups are all those in which individuals have formal, impersonal and status relations. All other groups, which are not primary are considered secondary.
Groups may be statistical (demographic arrangements), societal (common consciousness), social (actual association) and associational groups (formal structure). Group communication is interpersonal communication.
Characteristics of group in relation to an individual on the basis of membership, dependence, acceptance, attraction, volition (voluntary basis), innate (by birth), pressure (confirm to certain standards), change and flexibility (no group is rigid and static) and leadership as well. The leader leads the group in two manners:
1. Task oriented roles: Initiation of discussion, giving and receiving information, elaboration and clarification, orientation and summarization, tests of consensus 2. Maintenance roles: Compromising, supporting and encouraging, gate-keeping, standard setting and testing.
Leadership can be democratic, authoritarian or Laissez-faire (creative and committed people). The degree of formality governing the ‘jurisdiction’ of the participants in group communication activity differs according to the context.
Group communication is influenced by several heterogeneous factors, like age, sex, education, economic, social, linguistic, religious, national, regional and racial differences. The careful balance of interaction in dyad no longer exists in group communication. According to Baker, the best size in terms of total interaction and greatest efficiency is somewhere between five and seven members.
Participation and sharing of information is central to the functioning of a group. A group can function on the basis of committees (small groups for a specific purpose) or conferences (large group and more formal).
Group communication is considered effective as it provides an opportunity for direct interaction among the members of the group and it helps in bringing about changes in attitudes and beliefs.
Mass communication and mass media are generally considered synonymous. At a different level, mass communication has three characteristics.
1. The audience is large and heterogeneous: Radio and television is assumed to have larger audience in comparison to newspaper.
2. The source is an institution or a group of people:
For example, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, is engaged in broadcasting television and radio programmes all over the country.
3. Some kind of mechanism is used to reproduce information (a) It is also termed as ‘mediated communication’.
(b) It is a special kind of communication with mass audiences and hence, the name mass communication.
(c) Channels for mass communication are termed as mass media.
(d) It uses mechanical devices that multiply messages and convey information to a large number of people simultaneously.
(e) Examples of mass media include radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and films (both electronic and print media). Thus, we see that every medium of mass communication works in its own unique way and carries the message to reach wide in faraway places. Each medium has its advantages and limitations in the areas of operation, influence and impact, be it TV, radio or print.
Harold Lasswell has considered three functions in context of mass media in any society:
1. Surveillance of the environment media: As an ‘informer’, ears, eyes and voice of the audience and for shaping our thoughts, attitudes and actions.
For instance, the advertisements make known to us the new products.
2. Correlation: Developing public opinion, thus helping to create consensus in a society on key issues.
3. Admission of social inheritance: Today’s media have assumed the functions of transmitting social inheritance, which was done by parents, teachers and other elders. The media today provide main frames of reference to society. Urbanization, relative anonymity, social uprootings and the transition from traditional social organizations like joint family, clan have increased the role of media as transmitters of knowledge and values. Mass media have today become essential to carry out certain functions of socialization and transmission of social heritage.
Almost everyone gets his or her information about the world, national and local affairs from the mass media. This fact gives both print and broadcast journalism important functions that include influencing public opinion, determining the political agenda, providing a link between the government and the people, acting as a government watchdog and affecting socialization.
Mass media makes impact in the following forms:
1. Creating public opinion.
2. Setting up of political agenda: The term political agenda is broader in scope than the term public opinion.
3. Mass media sets link between the government and people.
4. Mass media works as government watchdog.
5. Mass media has become an agency of socialization as well.
Mass Media and society
Communication can also be categorized on the basis of involvement of parties, such as intrapersonal (reading a newspaper, meditation, introspection), interpersonal (conversation with a colleague) and apersonal (use of mass media, publicity, advertisement).
Communication Types on the Basis of Channels
On the basis of channels, communication is of two types and they are listed below.
1. Verbal communication 2. Non-verbal communication Verbal Communication
Verbal means the use of words in communication process and in design and formulation of messages. In verbal communication, message is transmitted verbally, i.e., by making use of words, such as oral and written.
In verbal communication, remember the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple).
In order to deliver the right message, the communicator must be empathetic. Verbal communication is further divided into the following types.
1. Oral communication 2. Written communication
In oral communication, spoken words are used.
It includes face-to-face conversations, speech, telephonic conversation, video, radio, television and voice over the internet. In oral communication, the communication is influenced by the following factors.
1. Pitch and volume: Pitch is the degree of highness or lowness of a tone and it depends upon the frequency of sound waves. It is the key element in the teaching–learning process. Teacher’s voice and knowing the correct language is the main input in speech. One should be loud enough to be heard.
When speaking, one should remember to change the pitch in your voice as a monotone voice may become boring. Excitement is indicated by a high pitch and anger by a low pitch.
Volume depends upon the proximity and number of people and is measured in decibels.
2. Rate: It is the speed at which words are delivered.
One should maintain regularity when speaking because a regular or rhythmic voice makes you sound more confident. Irregular speech may show a sign of uncertainty. If a teacher talks at a slow pace, then the students may become frustrated because the information is not being given quickly enough.
3. Clarity in speaking and articulation: Proper pronunciation and delivery of words contribute towards the effectiveness of the message. It also depends upon clarity of thought of the communicator.
Pitch, volume, rate and clarity are termed as components of paralanguage. The advantages of oral communication are as follows:
1. It is spontaneous and natural.
2. It is, therefore, easy for others to understand.
3. Choice of words generally suits the listeners.
4. It is supported by non-verbal communication.
5. The communicator or the person who communicates is always physically available.
6. It can develop a close relationship between the speaker and the listener.
Limitations of oral communication are as follows:
1. Words spoken disappear into thin air and therefore, words are temporary.
2. Words are not permanent unlike written communication.
3. What is heard is often forgotten.
4. Non-verbal communication that supports oral communication may not be understood by people from other cultures.
In written communication, written signs and symbols, both in printed or handwritten form can be used.
Pictures, graphs, etc., are used to compliment the written text. The communicator’s writing skills, style and knowledge of grammar affect the quality of message.
In written communication, message can be transmitted through email, letter, report, memo, etc. This is the most commonly used communication in a business organization. The organization needs to communicate with different stakeholders, both in internal and external environments to meet its objectives. Thus, written communication can further have two dimensions, such as internal and external. The internal written communication is in the form of memos, reports, bulletins, job descriptions, employee manuals and emails specifically for internal communication, i.e., within the organization.
Emails, internet, websites (URLs), letters, proposals, telegrams, faxes, postcards, contracts, advertisements, brochures and news releases are used for external communication.
Even the oral communication is used for both internal as well external communication.
Advantages of written communication are as follows:
1. Messages can be edited and revised many times before being sent, so it minimizes the chances of error.
2. Written communication provides an automatic record for every message sent and can be saved for later study or references.
3. A written message enables the receiver to fully understand it and send appropriate feedback. It brings in the element of impersonality and more objectivity.
Limitations of written communication are as follows:
1. Written communication may not provide prompt and spontaneous feedback.
2. Written communication may take more time.
3. Usually communication is a mix of both oral and written formats. Types of Verbal Communication
|Small Group Conversation||Letters/Memos|
|Large Group Lectures||Circulars|
|Small Group Conversation||Letters/Memos|
|Large Group Lectures||Circulars|
It is the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. There is a famous quote, ‘actions speak louder than words’. Here, action stands for our body movements. Non-verbal communication is all about the body language of the speaker and does not make use of words. Communication, other than oral and written, such as body gesture, eye contact, body language, posture, tone of voice or facial expressions is called non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication helps the receiver in better interpretation of the message.
Non-verbal communication has the following three elements:
1. Appearance: It includes both the speaker and the surrounding. Clothing, hairstyle, neatness of the speaker, etc., are taken into account. Surrounding is ambience of the place where communication takes place. It includes a room, lighting, decorations, furnishings, etc.
2. Body language: It includes facial expressions, gestures and postures.
3. Sounds: It includes voice tone, volume and speech rate.
Classification Based on Purpose and Style
Based on style and purpose, there are two main categories of communication and they both have their own characteristics.
In formal communication, certain rules, regulations, conventions and protocols are followed while formulating and communicating message. It follows an organizational structure. It can be upwards or downwards across hierarchy or authority lines.
In formal communication, the use of right language and correct pronunciation is required.
For example, in case an Assistant Professor has to communicate with College Principal, it is usually through the Head of Department (HoD).
Informal communication channels exist along with formal communication channels in any organization.
It mainly addresses the social needs of the employees.
It is interpersonal and mainly face-to-face and with use of body gestures. It happens among friends and family.
In informal communication, there are no formal rules and regulations for communication.
A lot of distortion or filtering may take place in informal communication and it is termed as grapevine.
Kinesics is a major form of non-verbal communication.
It is defined as ‘the study of non-linguistic body movements, such as facial expressions and gestures’. Kinesics is the interpretation of body language, such as facial expressions and gestures or, more formally, non-verbal behaviour related to body movement, either any part of the body or the body as a whole.
According to Mehrabian, ‘Words account for 7%, Tone of voice accounts for 38%, and our Body Language accounts for 55% of communication’. This has become the 7/38/55 rule. They are abbreviated as the 3 V’s, i.e., Verbal, Vocal and Visual. Thus, in practice, it is always a mix of verbal as well as non-verbal communication.
Concept of Kinesics
Classification on the Basis of Direction
1. This is basically formal communication.
2. This can be upwards (bottom up) and downwards (top bottom).
Lateral or Horizontal Communication
1. Communication with people at same level in hierarchy that are peers and colleagues is termed as lateral communication.
2. This may combine both formal and informal communications. This is the most effective communication, as it is generally not stalled by a chain of command methods. This can help in building teams in an organization.
3. The amount of horizontal communication depends upon the interdependence of different departments.
1. Diagonal communication is effective as hierarchical bindings are removed and there is a free flow of information, cutting across positions or status.
2. It facilitates in building relationships and bonding between the superior and the subordinate.
Communication network shows all communication patterns or relationships that may exist in the organization.
1. Chain network: It follows a formal chain of command, as is the case with a typical bureaucratic organization. Here, members communicate with each other in a pre-planned sequence.
2. Wheel network: It is also known as ‘STAR’ network.
Here, information flows from one central member of the group to the rest of the members.
Other group members may not have to communicate with each other to perform well and all communication is channelized through the supervisor. For examples, one-to-one interactions of Heads of Departments (HoDs) with the college Principal, but little or no interaction of HoDs among themselves. It is not very effective in teams.
3. Circle network: Here, members communicate informally with adjoining members generally on the basis of shared experiences, beliefs, areas of expertise, background, or office location. It may have a formal leader as well, but interaction is still lateral. It works in an autonomous team.
4. All-channel network: An all-channel network is found in teams. Both the intensity and frequency of interaction is high among members.
Information flows in all directions. There is no formal leader and communication may be started by any member.
Culture is the way of life of a people. It is also defined as human part of environment. It is a non-biological aspect of life. Culture is mostly learnt with communication only. To accept yourself as a cultural being means embracing a cultural identity composed of ethnicity, culture, gender, age, life stage, beliefs, values and assumptions. A cultural identity is learned, varies in its strength and varies in its content as well.
When two or more people with different cultural backgrounds interact and communicate with each other or one another, intercultural communication is said to have taken place. The main five reasons to study intercultural communication includes the following factors.
1. Better understanding your own identity.
2. Enhancing your personal and social interactions.
3. Helping solve cultural misunderstandings, miscommunication and mistrusts.
4. Valuing the ways it enriches the quality of our civilization.
5. Becoming effective citizens of our national communities.
Intercultural communication influences the communication model first by its effect on the values, traditions, social and political relationships, and worldview of senders and receivers. Secondly, by its effect on verbal and non-verbal messages and thirdly, by the influences it has on the historical setting, relational setting and a person’s position within a speech community.
Power distance relates to social inequality. Individualism versus collectivism relates to the degree of integration and orientation of individuals. Femininity versus masculinity pertains to the division of roles between women and men. Uncertainty avoidance describes the degree of tolerance for the unknown. Long- term orientation relates to trade-offs between long-term and short-term gratification of needs. Finally, high versus low context refers to the amount of information already contained in the person or context versus the amount in the coded, explicit and transmitted part of the message. The four barriers to intercultural communication include ethnocentrism, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. To deal with barriers, non-dominant group members use one or more of three main strategies to get what they want from dominant group members, such as assimilation, accommodation or separation. The five ways to improve intercultural communication are as follows.
1. Pay attention to your own words and actions.
2. Control your assumptions.
3. Engage in transpection—the process of empathizing across cultures.
4. Gain knowledge.
5. Gain experience. The internet offers a vehicle for searching common values, understandings and approaches to managing a world of different cultures.
Characteristics Of Communication
The nature of communication can be explained using the following characteristics:
1. Communication is continuous: Communication is not a static act, but it is a dynamic process of action and interaction towards a desired goal. Sharing or exchanging information is a continuous process.
2. Communication is all-pervasive: Lower levels provide information to the middle level. It is further processed to the top level in the desired format that helps in decision-making. Top level issues instructions to the middle and lower levels. This happens in an educational organization as well.
3. Effective communication is a two-way process:
Communication is deemed to be effective when there is some kind of feedback mechanism. This basic aspect has been taken into account in Cole and Chan Model as well as given in other Models.
4. Communication is always with a context and a relationship aspect: Both in terms of (i) what you say and (ii) how you say the matter. Same message can be communicated authoritatively or politely.
For example, while asking for a glass of water, one can say: (a) Please bring me a glass of water (b) Give me a glass of water (c) Can I have a glass of water? (d) Could you please give me a glass of water? Each message will have a different effect on the person you are talking to.
5. Communication exchanges are based on symmetry and complementary: Symmetry refers to similarity and complimentary refers to the differences in characteristics. For example, two students who are very good in Mathematics will have a good communication relationship. This will be termed as symmetry. On the other hand, suppose there are two students, one is good in Mathematics but poor in English and the other is good in English but poor in Mathematics. They may have good complementary communication relationship with each other because they can compensate each other’s weakness.
6. Common language: This helps developing better understanding between the sender and the receiver of a message and thus, making communication more effective.
7. Meeting of minds is necessary: The receiver must comprehend the intended meaning of the message that the sender wants him/her to understand.
8. The message must have substance: The gist of the message holds importance only until the receiver shows interest in the subject matter. For example, any discussion about cricket will be well received by a cricket fanatic.
9. Communication can also be conducted through gestures: Communication should not necessarily be verbal or written. Nodding of heads, rolling of eyes, movement of lips, etc., are some of the gestures used to convey certain basic ideas.
10. Communication is of different types: It can be formal or informal, verbal or non-verbal. The different types have been discussed in detail in the ensuing discussion.
11. Communication always has a context:
Communication always takes place within a context.
According to Bateson, ‘Without context, words and actions do not carry any meaning at all’.
At times, this context may not be obvious and at times, it may stand out boldly. The context of communication has four dimensions and they are as follows.
(a) Physical context: It refers to the place where communication is taking place, such as in public, conference room, classroom, etc. It refers to the ambience of the place as well.
(b) Social context: Social context is mainly about (i) role and status relationship between the sender and the receiver of messages and (ii) norms and culture of the society. For example, the social context of friends attending a party will be different from the people attending a meeting in an organization or a doctor attending a patient.
One way in which meanings are communicated and interpreted in conversation is through the use of what have been called adjacency pairs.
Adjacency pairs are utterances produced by two successive speakers such that the second utterance is identified as related to the first as an expected follow-up. The two form a pair, the first utterance constituting a first pair part and the next utterance constituting a second pair part.
Adjacency pair is described as the basic structural unit in conversation, consider the following examples of adjacency pairs.
(a) Greeting-Greeting A: Hi B: Hi (b) Compliment-Acceptance A: That’s a nice cap.
Adjacency Pairs (c) Psychological context: It refers to the environment characterized by formality or informality, friendliness or unfriendliness.
(d) Temporal context: It refers to the time factor in communication, such as at what time of the day communication is taking place. In morning, we usually talk about religious and spiritual aspects of life and during day time, it is usually about professional aspects, and so on.
Functions Of Communication
During recent times, communication by mass media and through social media is the underlying force for changes taking place in society. People communicate to learn what they need and want to cope with their physical and social reality. Successful people are usually effective communicators. The different objectives of communication are discussed as follows:
1. Information to keep oneself updated and for decision-making 2. Education and instruction 3. Smooth functioning of groups 4. Motivation and morale 5. Control 6. Cultural promotion 7. Integration 8. Communication skills are of four types, such as listening, speaking, writing and reading.
Listening is termed as a good skill and hence, it is said that one has to learn ‘how to listen so that others will talk’. Listening is a whole range of other aspects of communication.
Macro Functions of Communication
As per changing exam pattern, in question statements, there is increasing use of technical words. Thus, we need to discuss some functions. The macro functions of communication are listed below.
1. Emotive function: To communicate the inner state of mind and emotions. For example, Oh My God! Oh no! 2. Directive function: This function seeks to affect the behaviour of others. For example, Fetch me a glass of water, please.
3. Phatic function: This is to open the channel of communication or checking that it is working. For example, Hello, is it Ram? or can you hear me, Mrs Girdhar? This function establishes, acknowledges or reinforces social relations 4. Poetic function: This refers to the aesthetic function of language and focuses on ‘the message for its own sake’. Thus, it is basically the essence of the message. For example, euphony (pleasantness of sounds in speech and pronunciation) is an application of this function. This poetic function of language can be used when one says ‘Asoka the Great’, instead of ‘the great Asoka’, which essentially has the same meaning.
5. Referential function: Referential function refers to any message that is constructed to convey information.
6. Metalinguistic function: This function focuses attention on the code of language itself. When language is used to speak about language, for example in a grammar or a dictionary, the metalingual function has been employed. Metalinguistic activity may be unconscious. For example, ‘The use of both will or shall is correct in modern usage.’ 7. Contextual function: It facilitates the creation of a particular kind of context. It sets the tone. For example, Right! Let’s start the meeting now.
8. Heuristic function: Here, we use language to gain knowledge, learn and explore the environment.
A child uses language to learn. This may be in the form of questions and answers or the kind of running commentary that frequently accompanies children’s play.
In addition, there can be some more functions.
1. Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, the ‘dictionary definition’. For example, if you look up the word snake in a dictionary, you will discover that one of its denotative meanings is ‘any of numerous scaly, legless, sometimes venomous reptiles, having a long, tapering, cylindrical body and found in most tropical and temperate regions’.
2. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. The connotative meanings of a word exist together with the denotative meanings. The connotations for the word snake could include evil or danger.
3. A simile is a comparison between two dissimilar objects using a word like as or like to connect them. For example, if you say, ‘my boyfriend is like a watermelon in the summer’, you are creating a simile that compares your boyfriend with a watermelon.
If on the other hand you are angry at him and say, ‘he’s like a typhoon in the house’, then you are comparing your boyfriend with a typhoon.
4. A metaphor is similar to a simile, except that a metaphor compares two dissimilar objects without using a word like as or like. If you write, ‘my boyfriend is an angel’ or ‘my motorcycle is a bomb on wheels’, you are creating metaphors.
Classroom Communication Process – Cole And Chan Model
Classroom teaching still dominates the scene of formal education system where face-to-face instructions are given to students. The primary objective of classroom teaching is to achieve instructional objectives in the cognitive domain, namely those concerned with developing knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation abilities.
Communication is an integral part of any teaching– learning process and its effectiveness is one of the factors that determine the degree to which the intended learning outcomes are achieved. The process of classroom communication is affected by multiple factors pertaining to teachers, students, message, instructional methods and media, and learning environment.
However, very few of us understand the nature of communication and make deliberate attempts to improve its effectiveness. Communication skills are acquired through training and it can be improved with practice and it requires conscious knowledge and strategic judgement. Evidences indicate that by improving communication skills, individuals can have more effective and satisfying communication experiences.
All communication is based upon symbols. It is a process that involves organizing, selecting and transmitting symbols in an appropriate manner to ensure that the receiver perceives in his/her thought process, the intended meaning of the communicator.
According to Cole and Chan, a typical process of classroom communication (and communication in general as well) includes the following five distinct stages.
1. Formulation of message 2. Message encoding 3. Message transmission 4. Message decoding and interpretation 5. Feedback and evaluation.
Formulation of Message
The success of communication, therefore, depends on what we say and how we say it.
1. All communication starts with an idea or a message that is to be transmitted to the target audience (individual) with a motive to get a positive response. Communicator (sender or encoder) is the one who initiates the communication process.
2. A message is a set of verbal or non-verbal cues sent by a source. Messages can be spoken or written. They cannot have a meaning apart from the person involved in the sending and receiving process.
3. An effective communication depends on the communication skill, knowledge level and attitude of the communicator and how he/she desires to affect his/her receiver. Ability to think, organize thoughts quickly and express himself/herself effectively are some of the attributes of a good communicator.
4. Teachers concerned, they conceptualize ideas to be conveyed to students by arranging them in coherent and meaningful sequence. In most of the instances, they will draw on content from curricula. Teachers interpret those ideas and determine the appropriate organization of the content.
1. The internal shaping, sorting and sifting of ideas for clarification and organization is called message formulation. Its purpose is to create a clear and meaningful message.
2. Encoding involves converting an idea into a form that can be transmitted to receivers.
3. The communicator not only translates his/her purpose (ideas, thoughts, or information) into a message but also decides on the medium to communicate his/her planned message.
4. The communicator must choose the media (speech, writing, signalling, or gestures) that the receiver can comprehend well. For instance, an illiterate receiver may fail to understand a written message but can understand it well if told orally.
5. Teachers encode their ideas in different ways according to the demands of various curricula. It is the teacher’s responsibility to use appropriate symbolic forms for each subject and to teach students to use these forms.
1. It is a critical stage in the communication process and it answers how a message is delivered. The sender selects an appropriate channel or mode of presentation.
2. A ‘channel’ is the vehicle or means through which a message or stimulus is carried from the communicator to the receiver. There are various options available as channels, like written, spoken, verbal, non-verbal, mass media, etc.
For example, a teacher may use a film or physical demonstration to convey the same idea. Teachers are usually able to use more than one channel in ways that allow for an integrated presentation.
Message Decoding and Interpretation
1. Decoding is interpretation of the message by the receiver. Actually, the receiver looks for meaning in the message that is common to both the receiver and the communicator. The process of decoding by the receiver is not passive, but active one. Language does not have meaning, it has the potential for meaning and it is the decoder who is actively engaged in making meaning on the basis of his/her background knowledge and the context of communication.
2. If the receiver possesses the background information and is familiar with the form of language used, then it becomes easier for him/her to decode and comprehend the message.
3. If the receiver does not have the ability to listen, read and think, he/she will not be able to receive and decode the messages in the manner the communicator wants him/her to.
4. For effective communication, the receiver is the most important link in the communication process.
Feedback and Evaluation
1. Feedback is the response or acknowledgement of the receiver to the communicator’s message. The exchange is possible only if the receiver responds.
2. It involves the receiver reacting to the transmitted messages and conveying the response to the sender.
3. Most effective communicators encourage feedback and adjust the content and presentation of their messages as per the feedback received.
4. Teachers need to be aware of the subtle and direct ways of students for conveying reactions to the messages received. Skilled teachers can also control feedback so as to avoid unnecessary interference in the ongoing communication process.
5. Even by fluttering eyelids, raising an eyebrow, making facial expressions, organizing a point and asking for explanation. Thus, the message is shaped and reshaped by the communicator, and the receiver until the meaning becomes clear. In this way, both the participants in communication interact and constantly exchange roles. In faceto- face communication, the receiver responds naturally, directly and immediately. This provides the communicator an opportunity to improve and make his/her communication effective.
6. Therefore, feedback provides an opportunity to evaluate what is right or wrong about a particular communication. It helps to regulate the conversation among two or more individuals and also stimulates and reinforces an idea that is desired to be communicated.
7. An interactive model of communication (Cole and Chan) has a specific application for classroom teaching and learning. In most classroom interactions, there are constant role changes and many times the communication process is reversed.
Noise is an interruption that can creep in at any point of time in the communication process and make it ineffective.
Environment is one major cause that interferes with message reception like noises from the roadside, constant chattering of individuals, blaring loudspeaker, faulty transmission, etc. Noise can also occur in other forms, like poor handwriting, heavy accent or soft speech, communication in a poorly lit room, etc. In fact, these are barriers to effective communication. For smooth and effective communication, it is necessary to eliminate or reduce noise as far as possible.
Noise can be mainly divided into the following categories:
1. Physiological noise: It is the distraction caused by hunger, fatigue, headache, medication, etc.
2. Physical noise: It is the most direct form of interference in our physical environment, for example, traffic horns and poor lighting.
3. Psychological noise: It refers to the qualities in us that affect how we communicate and interpret others. For instance, if a manager is preoccupied with a very intense problem, then he/she may be inattentive in the meeting. Similarly, prejudice and defensive feelings can also interfere with communication.
4. Semantic noise: It occurs when words themselves are not mutually understood. Authors sometimes create semantic noise by using jargon or avoidable technical language. Tiffin and Rajasingham discuss education as a communication system that also shares the characteristics of an open system:
1. Negative-entropy: Open systems resist the trend towards disorder and more towards increased organization. For this purpose, they depend on feedback system and the environmental supra system.
2. Feedback: Feedback enables the system to take corrective steps to adjust its malfunctioning, if there is any.
3. Steady state: It is a condition of dynamic equilibrium.
Here, the system maintains its structure as stable, despite fluctuation in environmental conditions.
4. Differentiation: Open systems adapt to the changing environment. They also move in the direction of higher level of organization or growth.
5. Equifinality: It is the ability of open systems to reach a given state or condition by several different paths.
6. Teleology: It is a characteristic of open system that indicates the purposefulness of the system and works according to its objectives.
7. Hierarchy: Open systems are hierarchical, i.e., they are both independent framework consisting of a number of integral lower level sub-systems and each one is a dependent member of the higher level system.
Principles Of Effective Classroom Communication
Effectiveness of classroom communication depends on five major factors, namely teacher, student, message, instructional methods and media, and learning environment. The principles of effective classroom communication have been discussed under the following four headings.
1. Principles for teacher.
2. Principles for message design.
3. Principles for selection of instructional methods and media.
4. Principles for creating conducive learning environment.
Principles for Teachers
A teacher should have the following qualities.
1. Develop a realistic self-concept and a perception about surrounding: This requires analysis of one’s strengths and weaknesses, acceptance of the reality and efforts to realize one’s potential.
2. Develop proficiency in the subject matter:
Desire to acquire knowledge is a must for the teacher. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow
Learn as if you were to live forever’.
A teacher should make every effort to remain updated in his/her subject area by independent reading, participation in short-term courses, attending classes of proficient teachers/experts, discussing subject-related issues and problems with other colleagues or seniors, etc. This helps in boosting the confidence of the teacher.
3. Understand the learners: A teacher should try to collect as much information about the learners’ characteristics as he/she can. Information needs to be collected about the previous knowledge, learning styles, cognitive styles, motivation and interests. A teacher should accept the fact that no two individuals are alike and thus cannot be treated in the same manner.
4. Develop effective communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal): Communication skills can be acquired through training and practice.
A teacher can record his/her own audio and analyse the same for identifying the strengths and weaknesses in the spoken language. He/she should remain open to feedback from colleagues, superiors and students.
5. Knowledge about pedagogy and andragogy:
This enables the teacher to plan, organize, deliver and evaluate instructions based upon the sound principles of teaching, learning and thereby, promote learning among students.
6. Adopt flexible approach: This helps in modifying instructions as per the needs of the students.
7. Being objective and unbiased: A teacher should treat students as equal and not give any preferences to students on the basis of sex, caste or creed.
Principles for Message Design
The message should have the following characteristics:
1. Clear and specified objectives: Objectives should satisfy the criterion of being SMART.
(a) Specific (b) Measurable (c) Achievable (d) Realistic (e) Time framed 2. Relevant to the objectives: Contents should be relevant to cover all the objectives.
3. Properly sequenced: This is covered in Unit I under the maxims and principles of teaching. it should be seen that the content is organized based on the following parameters.
(a) Simple to complex (b) Easy to difficult (c) Concrete to abstract (d) Known to unknown (e) Observation to reasoning 4. Use language comprehendible to the learners:
The language of the message should be simple and comprehensible to the learners. Technical jargon should be avoided.
5. Use appropriate symbols: Symbols used in the message should be technically correct and standardized.
6. Include relevant exercises: The exercises selected should be of varying difficulty level and should involve the learners meaningfully.
7. Make generous use of examples and non-examples:
Examples from daily life and world of work should be used to facilitate understanding of the applicability of content in different settings and thus, it ensures greater transferability of the learnt materials.
Principles for Selection of Instructional Methods and Media
1. Select relevant and appropriate methods and media: The methods and media should be relevant to the objectives, content and context, and should be appropriate to the level of learners.
Instructional methods and teaching methods have been discussed in Unit I.
2. Use variety of methods and media: In order to cater to the individual differences among learners and to avoid monotony, a variety of methods and media should be used by the teacher.
3. Use good quality media: The quality of media in terms of its visibility, legibility, finish, colours and printing should be judged before its use.
4. Integrate media in teaching–learning: Media should not be used in isolation. For example, if a video film is being used at the end of a lesson to reinforce what has been taught in the class, then it should either be followed by a discussion or some quick assessment of students’ understanding.
Principles for Creating Conducive Learning Environment
1. Classes should not be overcrowded: It really becomes difficult for the teacher to manage a big class and pay attention to each learner, which is the main reason that student–teacher ratio is prescribed by various regulatory bodies.
2. Ensure proper seating arrangement in the class:
Minimum essential distance should be maintained between the teacher and the students, and among students. Each student should be able to interact with the teacher and other students. Furniture should be comfortable and in proper condition. In addition, there should be proper lighting and ventilation arrangement in the class.
3. Build rapport with the students: A teacher should know each and every student in the class by name and be friendly with the students. He/she should try to give due respect to the individuality of students. He/she should have a positive attitude towards the students.
4. Encourage cooperation and healthy competition among students: This can be achieved by assigning group activities and pairing bright students with average or poor students.
5. Feedback mechanism: It should work both ways.
6. Encourage experimentation: A teacher should encourage experimentation with new ideas and techniques by the students. Creativity should be encouraged rather than curbed. Problems having more than one solution need to be posed in the class.
7. Provide reinforcement: A teacher should reinforce the desired communication behaviour of learners through praise, appreciation, rewards, social recognition, etc.
8. Provide non-threatening environment: There should not be fear of punishment. Prior information regarding schedule of activities, tests, assignments, etc., should be provided to learners in order to avoid any unnecessary anxiety on the part of the learners.
Paraphrasing is a skill that is absolutely necessary for good listening. It means stating in your own words, your understanding of what has just been said. It gives the speaker the opportunity to find out what message he/she is getting across to you.
He/she can then make any corrections needed. To begin paraphrasing, you might start by saying, ‘What I hear you saying is ….’ or ‘It sounds like ….’ or ‘Let me see if I’m understanding you ….’ Advantages of Paraphrasing
1. It helps the students know that they are understood by the instructor.
2. It prevents misunderstandings from occurring.
3. It helps to avoid impulsive or angry reactions.
4. It will prevent you from getting distracted easily.
5. It helps to remember what was said frequently.
Some Important Terms
1. Synchronous media: Media that takes place in real time, such as live television or radio and that requires the audience to be present when the media is being broadcasted or performed is called synchronous media.
2. Asynchronous media: Media that does not require the audience to assemble at a given time in order to use it is called asynchronous media. Examples of asynchronous media are printed materials or recorded audio or video.
3. Time shift: The recording of an audio or video event, usually by the audience, to be watched later at a time other than when it was originally broadcasted is called time shift. Setting a VCR to record a favourite program is an example of time-shifting.
4. Surveillance: Primarily the function of mass communication is to provide information about the processes, issues, events and other developments in the society.
5. Convergence: It is the combination of computing, telecommunications and media in a digital environment. Convergence and the changes that it is bringing are fundamentally changing many aspects of mass media and communication.
Ten Commandments Of Communication
Though we have studied them earlier, in order to make communication effective let us observe some important aspects which make the communication effective:
1. Clarify ideas before communicating.
2. Examine the true purpose of communication.
3. Take the entire environment, physical and human, into consideration.
4. When valuable, take advice from others while planning communication.
5. Be careful of the overtones and the basic content of the message.
6. Use crisp language and be clear.
7. Follow-up on communication.
8. Communicate with the future as well as the present in mind.
9. Be a good listener.
10. Exhibit congruency.
Effective communication can face multiple barriers.
These barriers develop when an organization evolves. They can be attributed to the following conditions: The 7 Cs provide a checklist for making sure that communication in the form of teaching, instructions, meetings, emails, conference calls, reports and presentation is well constructed and clear so that the audience gets the message.
According to the 7 Cs, communication needs to be:
1. Clear 2. Concise 3. Concrete 4. Correct 5. Coherent 6. Complete 7. Courteous
1. Size of organization.
2. Physical distance between employees.
3. Specialization of jobs and activities.
4. Organizational culture—it impacts freedom and trust.
5. Organizational rules and regulations.
6. Power structure in the organization.
7. Complexity in organizational structure.
8. Inadequate facilities and opportunities.
9. Lack of cooperation between senior and subordinate.
The geographic distance between the sender and receiver(s) can be taken as the most pertinent example of physical barrier in communication.
Communication is generally easier over shorter distances as more communication channels are available and less or no technology is required. The ideal communication is face-to-face.
Although modern technology often helps to reduce the impact of physical barriers, the advantages and disadvantages of each communication channel should be understood so that an appropriate channel can be used to overcome the physical barriers. There are four kinds of physical barriers and they are explained as follows.
1. Competing stimulus: There can be some other conversation going on in the surrounding area, traffic noise in the background and so on.
2. Environmental stress: High temperature, poor ventilation and so on.
3. Subjective stress: Sleeplessness, ill health, effects of drugs, mood variations and so on.
4. Receiver’s unfamiliarity with medium: The use of medium with which the recipient is unfamiliar is also a communication barrier.
1. Frame of reference: Each person has a frame of reference, a kind of a window to view the world, people, events and situations. A frame of reference is shaped by our cultural environment (norms, values, and beliefs), childhood experiences and heredity. All these factors are usually implicit. No two people will have same frame of reference. Our frames of reference modify with passage of time as our needs and experience also change. Here, it is important to mention the concept of reference groups whom we espouse as our own and try to follow in our routine behaviour.
2. Self-image: Self-image or self-concept is closely related to frame of reference. People establish their point of view and interpret messages in accordance with their self-concepts. They respond favourably those messages that reinforce their self-concept and reject those messages that are perceived to be threatening self image.
3. Stereotyping: It perhaps emerges from ego, it becomes a barrier to communication when people act as if they already know the message that is coming from the sender or worse, as if no message is necessary because everybody already known.
But senders and listeners should continuously look for and address thinking, conclusions and actions based on stereotypes.
4. Field of experience: This barrier occurs when the field of experience is not common to both the sender and the receiver. If a teacher is teaching Einstein’s equation to commerce students, he/she will not get any response but if it is taught to science students, his/her communication is likely to be more effective.
5. Cognitive dissonance: Cognitive means thinking and dissonance means conflict. Thus, it means conflict in thinking. Although a smoker accepts the truthfulness of drug de-addiction in advertisement messages by the Department of Social Welfare, he is not able to react favourably.
6. Defensiveness and fear: This is closely related to the desire to maintain status quo and a person always justifies his/her viewpoint or idea.
Along with the feelings of nervousness, anxiety and tension, fear is the most restricting of all effects, resulting in narrow thinking, which selects and distorts communication. However, a little fear and anxiety can be turned into a source of energy and enhance confidence as it motivates to perform better.
7. Selective perception: It is also characterized as ‘I-know-it syndrome’. If somebody says, ‘It is a waste of time’, is also exhibiting selective perception when one does not apply full mind on communication situation.
8. Filtering: A sender’s manipulation of information can be seen as more favourable by the receiver.
Linguistic and Cultural Barriers
Language, both verbal or non-verbal, makes use of words. Words are mere symbols. Symbols can be comprehended differently by participants in communication. The communication message might not use vocabulary that is understood by the receiver.
For example, excessive use of technical, financial, medical or psychological terms and jargon.
Most of the native languages are culture specific.
When languages are distinct, communication is carried out through translation, which increases the probability of misunderstandings.
Although languages are meant to improve understanding, different cultural contexts and languages can also prove to be a barrier to communication across different cultures.
1. Semantic barriers: Semantic barriers occur when there is disagreement about the words being used, which is based on individuals being from different cultures. Thus, disallowing the parties involved to determine a common meaning of the words used. This frequently occurs when the parties involved speak different languages.
2. High-context and low-context cultures: Highcontext culture is the culture that relies heavily on non-verbal and subtle situational cues to communicate.
A lot of things are left unsaid, but it is already understood by the members that constitute the group. Asiatic societies such as India, Saudi Arabia and Japan are prominent examples of high-context culture.
Low-context culture relies heavily on words to convey meanings in a communication. A few words can communicate a complex message very effectively to an in-group (in-group is one’s own culture) but less effectively outside that group. In a lower context culture, the communicator needs to be much more explicit. Western societies are usually low-context societies.
3. Cross-cultural communication: Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that analyse how people from varying cultural contexts communicate in similar ways and also in different ways among themselves. How do they endeavour to communicate across cultures?
Mechanical barriers can exist in both interpersonal or mass communication. There can be difficulty in reception or some elements of the message may not reach the destination or both. It can be in the form of absence of communication facilities.
Channel noise is a technical term used for such mechanical barriers that includes any disturbance in physical transmission of a message. Some examples of mechanical barriers are disturbances in radio transmissions, blurriness on TV screens, spreading of ink on a newspaper, inaudibility in telephone devices, a barely readable point size or any kind of improper functioning of a device. They can also be associated with cultural or social issues, language, customs, beliefs, motives or simply illiteracy. The various communication barriers at workplaces are as follows:
1. Language: The same message can be interpreted differently by different people. Several factors affect how an individual attributes meaning to particular words.
2. Perpetual biases: It prevents us to look at reality in a truthful manner. The most common perceptual biases are stereotyping, projection and selffulfilling prophecies.
Stereotyping comes into play when we assume that a person belonging to a certain group will display specific characteristics. However, the person may not actually exhibit those characteristics. This is specifically true in case of traditional societies.
3. Impersonal relationships: Our perception is also based on the past experiences with the communicator. The same communication from the highest authority may be perceived differently than that from a subordinate or a colleague.
4. Cultural differences: Effective communication requires deciphering the basic motives, values, assumptions and aspirations that operate across different cultures.
Overcoming Barriers of Communication
To make communication more effective, Supervisors/ Managers must try to attempt to remove the barriers.
1. Regulate the flow of information.
2. Feedback: Acknowledgment of message.
3. Human resources should use simple language.
4. Level of knowledge: It is always advantageous to speak in the subordinate’s language (level of knowledge, his educational qualification and fluency of language of the receiver). It is best to communicate in the mother tongue of subordinate.
5. Listen carefully: Hearing is passive, whereas listening is an active and intellectual process. While listening, on e should stop talking, should be patient, hold his temper, ask questions, remove distractions, should immensely concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
6. Control emotions: Emotion can be in any form, like anger, disgust and upset. Emotions severely cloud and distort the meaning. The best thing is to defer or postpone further communication until calmness and coolness is established.
7. Watch for non-verbal cues or body language:
In case of oral communication, the sender should observe the actions of receiver and find whether they go along with the understanding. A supervisor should watch the non-verbal cues or body language carefully.
An individual’s particular psychological characteristics are basically termed as Conceptual Filters. They can also put a limit on the encoding process ofan individual.
Communication skills, knowledge of the topic, and personality factors such as attitudes, values interests, and motivational needs are some of the traits or mental conditions that combine to limit, screen or filter what is encoded. They also add to the quality of message.