Site MapHelpFeedbackUnderstanding the Process of Communication
Understanding the Process of Communication

Chapter Summary

This summary is organized around the questions found at the beginning of the chapter. See if you can answer them before reading the summary paragraphs.

1. How is communication defined?

Communication is the process of creating and sharing meaning through the use of symbols. It is an ongoing activity of producing meaning through messages primarily intended to be shared with others.

2. How has the study of communication evolved?

The study of communication can be traced back at least to ancient Greece with the study of rhetoric. More recently, scholars have adopted social scientific approaches to communication, leading to a diverse field that focuses on the initiation and interpretation of messages in a variety of contexts.

3. What are the basic elements of the communication process?

The basic elements of the communication process are initiators and interpreters, messages, noise, channels, feedback, context, and culture. Communication relies on symbols used by initiators and interpreters who create messages by encoding and decoding ideas, feelings, and thoughts into symbols. Noise is anything that interferes with the creation of shared meaning. Channel refers to the medium that carries a message. Feedback is the reaction to a message; it consists of verbal and nonverbal reactions to a message. Context is the environment surrounding the interaction and includes physical setting, communicative settings, culture, and rules. Culture is everything that makes up our way of life, including shared values, knowledge, behaviors, and symbolic expression. Co-cultures exist within the prevailing beliefs of the dominant culture.

4. What is the difference between verbal and nonverbal communication?

Verbal communication is expressed through the use of formal languages. Nonverbal communication uses hand gestures, facial expressions, touch, voice inflection, and other extralinguistic symbols.

5. What are the dynamic dimensions of the communication process?

The communication process is transactional, irreversible, inevitable, and multidimensional. Transaction means that communicators initiate and interpret messages simultaneously. Communication is irreversible because it moves forward and creates a history between communicators. Inevitable means that communicators are continuously initiating and interpreting messages, including some that are unintentional. Finally, communication is multidimensional because there is a content and relationship aspect to all messages.

6. Why are civility, diversity, and ethics important for communicators?

The civil communicator cares about and participates in the world at large in ways that balance individual rights with the welfare of others. Attention to diversity aids the communicator's ability to account for differences and include others in the communication process. Both civility and diversity are important principles for contemporary communicators. Ethical guidelines that help communicators practice civility and diversity include appropriateness, perspective taking, and self-monitoring.

Communication in a Changing WoOnline Learning Center

Home > Chapter 1