Why is it often so hard to get our ideas, thoughts, feelings, and meanings across to others? How often did we say, “But that’s not what I meant.” How often do we get our feelings hurt or hurt others through words whose meanings we may or may not have correctly interpreted? We have communicated since we have learned to speak. After all, in our professional and personal lives, we are required to express ourselves constantly. We are bombarded by communication all day long. Modern technology has made it easier to reach and be reached on a twenty-four hour basis. We may wish to shut off and just be left alone, but it is a fact of human nature and life that we can not live and be fulfilled without communicating with others. Research has shown that without the spoken word and interaction with others, we will not thrive.
Extensive research has shown us that communication or a lack thereof can affect our physical health. This chapter shows us the theoretical models of communication, but, more importantly, it shows how we learn who we are. You will find throughout the concepts taught in this course that our sense of identity comes from the way we interact with other people. Based on how others react to us, we decide who we are and develop a sense of self. Our social and emotional needs are met by forging a vital link with others through communication. Pleasure, affection, inclusion, escape, relaxation, and control are all social motives for communication to satisfy our needs and develop an accurate and comfortable sense of self.
Shaping our identities and satisfying our social needs through communication is also the most widely used approach to instrumental goals: getting others to behave in the ways that we want them to. These goals are used by us every day: when we buy something, give directions, or instruct others. But these goals become more relevant and important when you consider career goals. The skills of speaking and listening effectively are the keys to getting us what we want. Good communication on the job is just as important. They can mean the difference between success and failure on the job.
This chapter explains and demonstrates two models of communication—linear and transactional. Linear communication flows in one direction – sender to receiver. Transactional communication, especially the interpersonal variety, is two-way exchanges. Linear communication does not require immediate feedback (e.g., giving your children commands about chores); transactional communication requires an immediate response. Your chapter explains what is meant by environment in interpersonal communication. This is concept is important to you because many of our misunderstandings in communication can be traced to a lack of experience of understanding the other’s behavior. Physiological factors like body language and tone or pitches of voice also influences the responses in transactional communications. Psychological influences are the perceived self-perception of the communicators and bear weight on the sending and reception of communication messages in the transactional communication process.
To further add to our understanding of how communication works, we must realize that communication can found on two levels: content and relational. Content is what the person actually says. Relational communication can be both verbal and nonverbal. This is at times very difficult for a public telecommunicator because the elements of nonverbal communication, to be able to tell from body language what the person means, is absent. That’s why it is so important to be able to pick up on other clues, such as pitch of voice, intonations, content of messages, and cultural factors (such as accents).
The term metacommunication is used to explain the relationship between communicators; i.e., two communicators evaluate the concept of their relationship. Relationships can be divided into three dimensions: affinity, respect, and control. Any time that we talk about these dimensions, we use the term relational message.
As your own experience and your text point out, it is impossible not to communicate. All communication can be intentional or unintentional (e.g., rolling of eyes, frowning, etc.). As telecommunicators, you do not have a chance to observe this but must rely primarily on content (intentional) and relational messages, such as pitch of voice, loudness, tone of voice, and choice of language. It is important to keep in mind that, when people are under stress, they tend to speak with a higher pitch and at a faster rate. However, communications are probably be truer; that is, they can not rely as much on formulated psychological noise as other messages.
We all have many misconceptions about communication. We always tend to think that meaning is in words; however, meaning is in people. We are all shaped by our self-concepts, self-identity, culture, and gender. Also, more communication does not always make things better. Communication will never solve all problems. Also, remember that communication is not a natural ability but is a learned skill.
Finally, to be a competent communicator, you have to acquire the ability to get what you want from others on terms that are acceptable to all parties. Do not learn a set of rules and apply them without analysis. Competent communicators have a wide repertoire of behaviors, and they are able to choose the best behavior for any given situation. To be a skillful communicator you have to take the other person’s point of view and analyze the situation in a variety of ways.