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Chapter 1

Why We Communicate:
1. Communication meets physical needs
a. Why solitary confinement is such a harsh punishment
b. Fredrick II wanted to discover what language humans would speak naturally 50 infants
nurses told not to speak or hold them only to feed and bathe all 50 infants died
i. Communication is important for infant and child development.
ii. We need touch to survive absolute need
c. Research shows that people without strong social ties are likely to suffer from heart
disease, high blood pressure, and die prematurely.
i. People who have a stronger (not larger) social network develop less colds
d. Segrin and Passalacqua even found that loneliness is related to sleep disturbances and
e. As technology has increased we have started paying for things to be touched in order meet
our physical needs.
i. Ex: manicures, pedicures, and massages, etc.
f. Stigma: A characteristic that discredits a person, causing him or her to be seen as
abnormal or undesirable.
i. No the attribute that stigmatizes a person, but the way that attribute is viewed by
others in that persons society.
1. Ex: HIV/AIDS is widely stigmatized because of its association with gay men
and intravenous drug users; however, most HIV positive people do not fall
into either category
2. Communication meets relational needs
a. We need relationships, and communication is a large part of how we build and keep those
i. One person cannot meet all of your relational needs.
b. Immigrants often find it difficult to communicate with others because they struggle to learn
the cultural values, and language of their new environments feel lonely or ignored in the
c. Research has shown that having a rich (not necessarily large) social life is one of the most
powerful predictors of a persons overall happiness
i. Mere interaction isnt enough though: meaningful conversations leads to happiness
while small talk is associated with reduced well-being
d. Glenn and Weaver: the most important predictor of happiness in life is marital happiness
more important than income, job status, education, and leisure time
i. Cause-and-effect relationship between marriage and happiness isnt clearly defined
3. Communication fills identity needs
a. The ways we communicate with others and the ways others communicate with us play a
major role in shaping how we see ourselves.
4. Communication meets spiritual needs
a. Spirituality includes the principles valued in life, and it also encompasses peoples morals,
or their notions of right and wrong.
b. Spirituality involves peoples beliefs about the meaning of life, a religious faith and
5. Communication serves instrumental needs
a. Instrumental needs = everyday needs
i. Ex: ordering a drink, scheduling a haircut, getting a job, directions, etc.
b. Importance:
i. We have many instrumental needs.
ii. Many instrumental needs have to be met before other needs become relevant.

The Nature of Communication:
1. Three Models (formal description of a process) of Human Communications
a. Communication as Action
i. Communication is a one-way process
ii. Action model starts with a source who comes up with a thought or an idea
encode (put idea in the form of language or a gesture) creates a message which
consists of verbal and/or non-verbal elements to which people give meaning you
send a message through a communication channel (type of pathway) receiver
decode or interpret message
1. Ex: Did you get my message? you are implying that communication is a one-
way process. (Voicemail)
2. Ex: Prepared speeches
3. During communication process there is likely to be noise: anything that
interferes with a receivers ability to interpret a message accurately
a. Physical: background conversation or static
b. Psychological: other concerns you are dealing with
c. Physiological: fatigue or hunger

b. Communication as Interaction
i. Includes same elements as the action model, however it differs in two different
1. Recognizes communication as a two-way process
2. Adds feedback (verbal and nonverbal responses to a message) and
context (environment that you are in).
a. Physical Context: where you are physically interacting with people
b. Psychological Context: factors that influence your state of mind
i. Ex: how formal a situation is
ii. Drawback: Doesnt represent how complex communication can be people
often send and receive information simultaneously rather than simply
communication back and forth one message at a time.

c. Communication as Transaction
i. Communication is a multi-way process.
ii. Doesnt distinguish between roles of source and receiver. Nor does it represent
communication as a series of messages going back and forth.
iii. Maintains that both people in a conversation are sources and receivers and that
conversation flow in both directions at the same time.
iv. Context is broader: can also be affected by our culture experience, gender, and social
class, and even by the history of our relationship with the person to whom were

d. Assessing the Models
i. Action Model: text message, leaving a note for someone
ii. Interaction Model: submitting a report and then receiving comments on it
iii. Transaction Model: most conversations
2. Six Characteristics of Communication
a. Communication Relies on Multiple Channels
i. Channel-rich contexts: involve many different communication channels at
1. Ex: face to face conversations involve paying attention to your partners
words, expressions, gestures, tone of voice, and touch
ii. Channel-lean contexts: smaller number of communication channels
1. Ex: text message relies almost entirely on text
b. Communication Passes Through Perceptual Filters
i. We all filter incoming communication through our perceptions, experiences,
biases, and beliefs
1. Ex: listening to a senator speak on television the way you process and
make sense of the speech probably depends o whether you belong to the
same political party
c. People Give Communication Its Meaning
i. A word is a symbol, or a representation of an idea, but the word itself isnt the
meaning. The meaning of words comes from the people and groups who use
d. Communication Has Literal Meaning and Relational Implications
i. Content Dimension: consists of the literal information being communicated
about the subject of the message
1. Ex: Were out of detergent again. Means that you have no detergent left.
ii. Relational Dimension: we often infer meanings about our relationships from
the tone and manner in which statements are made.
1. Ex: Were out of detergent again. Might mean that I am irritated that you
never replace household items when they are empty even though it is never
iii. Metacommunication: communication about communication; one way in which
people distinguish between content and relational dimensions
1. Communicating about how or the way we communicate.
e. Communication Sends a Message, Whether Intentional or Unintentional
i. Much of what we communicate to others is deliberate
ii. It has been debated whether or not unintentional messages should qualify as
f. Communication is Governed By Rules
i. Explicit Rules: someone has clearly articulated them
1. Ex: Dont talk with your mouth full.
ii. Implicit Rules: rules that almost everyone in a certain social group knows and
follows, even though no one has formally articulated and expressed them.
1. Ex: riding in an elevator Dont get on if its already full.
3. Dispelling Some Communication Myths
a. Myth #1: Every is an Expert in Communication
b. Myth #2: Communication Will Solve Any Problem
c. Myth #3: Communication Can Break Down
i. It may be easy to blame a breakdown in communication for problems we face in
personal relationships. What is really happening in these situations is that we are
no longer communicating effectively.
d. Myth #4: Communication is Inherently Good
i. Ex: Cells phones make it tougher to concentrate on the people around you. Cell
phones have also been linked to stress in families.
ii. Communication can also be used to intimidate or deceive people.
e. Myth #5: More Communication is Always Better
i. When people have genuine disagreements, more talk doesnt always help. In some
cases, increasing communication can just lead to frustration and anger.
1. The effectiveness of our communication rather than the amount of
communication is often what matters.

How We Communicate Interpersonally:
1. Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication
a. Interpersonal Communication Occurs Between Two People
i. Intrapersonal Communication: only one person is involved
1. Ex: when you talk to yourself
2. Often affects how we relate to others
ii. Mass Communication: communication that is being transmitted to large numbers of
iii. Small Group Communication: communication that occurs in small groups of three or
more people, as in a family, on a committee, or in a support group
iv. Most research on interpersonal communication focuses on interaction within a
dyad, a pair of people.
b. Interpersonal Communication Occurs Within a Relationship
i. People who communicate interpersonally share some sort of relationship
relationship does not imply an intimate bond
ii. In general, we communicate with each person on the basis of the expectations we
have for that relationship
iii. Much of our day-to-day communication is impersonal, meaning that it focuses on a
task rather than on a relationship helps you accomplish a task but odes not
necessarily help you build or maintain a relationship with others
1. Ex: ordering a coffee, calling a tech support line
c. Interpersonal Communication Evolves Within Relationships
i. Ex: in the early stages of the romantic relationship, individuals may spend hours at a
time talking and disclosing facts about their life. As they get to know each other
their communication might become more instrumental focusing on tasks such as
where they are going to spend the holidays.
d. Interpersonal Communication Negotiates and Defines Relationships
i. Every relationship has its own identity
1. Ex: you can group friendships into types: close, causal, work, and school
2. Why Interpersonal Communication Matters
a. Interpersonal Communication is Pervasive
i. Nearly everyone engages in some form of interpersonal communication almost
b. Interpersonal Communication Can Improve Our Relationships
i. Lack of effective communication is the number one reason why relationships end.
c. Interpersonal Communication Can Improve Our Health
i. Married people live longer, healthier, and more satisfying lives than individuals who
are single, divorced, or widowed.
ii. Interpersonal communication doesnt have to be face to face to benefit us.

Building Your Communication Competence:
1. What Communicating Competently Involves
a. Communicating Effectively
i. Effectiveness describes how well your communication achieves its goals.
ii. No single communication strategy will be effective in all situations.
b. Communicating Appropriately
i. Expectations for appropriate communication can vary according to certain social
situations and cultures.
2. Characteristics of Competent Communicators
a. Self-Awareness
i. Self-monitoring: good communicators are aware of their own behavior and its
effects on others.
1. People who are high self-monitors pay close attention to the way they look,
sound, and act in social situations high self-monitors often have high
levels of social and emotional intelligence
2. Self-monitoring enables people to see how their behavior fits or doesnt fit in
a given social setting.
b. Adaptability
i. Competent communicators are able to assess what is going to be appropriate and
effective in a given context and then modify their behaviors accordingly.
c. Empathy
i. Empathy: the ability to be other-oriented and understand other peoples thoughts
and feelings.
1. People who dont practice empathy tend to assume everyone thinks and feels
the same way they do.
2. Empathy is a challenge for individuals with disorders such as autism or
Aspergers syndrome these conditions impair a persons ability to
interpret other peoples nonverbal behaviors
d. Cognitive Complexity
i. Cognitive Complexity: the ability to consider a variety of explanations and to
understand a given situation in multiple ways.
1. Keeps you from jumping to the wrong conclusion and responding
e. Ethics
i. Ethics: guides us in judging whether something is morally right or wrong.
1. Compliance-gaining strategies: trying to change the way another person
thinks or behaves.
2. Competent communicators are ware that peoples ideas about ethics vary.
However, they are also aware of their own ethical beliefs, and they
communicate in ways that are consistent with those beliefs.