+44 7743 307695
Feb 08, 2024



What Is Communication?

Here is another opportunity to earn points. This is not mandatory, you may find other point earning opportunities more enjoyable so feel free to do those instead.

In his essay titled: "The Nature of Communication," Stephen W. King (no, not that Stephen King) attempts to define communication. I have modified it a bit to focus on the key points, the complete version is in the book Small Group Communication, A reader Fifth Edition by Robert S. Cathcart and Larry A. Samovar.

Dr King writes:

Three weeks into a course entitled "Small Group Communication" an earnest student raised her hand and asked, "Now that we know what a `small group` is, Professor, what is `communication`?" Many students snickered, thinking the question tremendously naive and trivial.

However, I was apprehensive. Was this student going to force me to deal with the difficult but essential question of definition? I tried to get out of the tense moment by flippantly saying, "What is not communication?"

Undaunted, the student pressed her question, "You didn`t answer the question; you merely circumvented it."

Trapped! So I said, "Well, Stevens defined it as `the discriminatory response of an organism to a stimulus,` Miller and Steinberg asserted that communication `involves an intentional, transactional, symbolic process,` and Samovar and Mills concluded that communication `all methods of conveying any kind of thought or feeling between persons.`"

Gaining confidence the student looked at me and said,"Professor, that was simply a smorgasbord of definitions offering me a great deal of choice but not much clarification."

I prayed for the bell to ring indicating the end of the period. No bell, so I said, "O.K., Miller and Steinberg`s definition is the right one. Now, do you understand?"

"No," said the student, "that`s the point. You gave me a definition but I don`t understand why that definition captures the essence of `communication` while the others do not. I guess I want to understand `communication` not define it."

Of course, she was right. Thus, I begrudgingly began a dialogue aimed at understanding communication, its fundamental nature and conceptual boundaries. I invite you to join us on this expedition in search of understanding.

We can begin our expedition with a brief story:

1. Professor Samuel Withit left the library one morning and saw one of his students across the quad wave to him. He waved back

2. A few moments later Professor Withit walked by another of his students who gave a friendly "hello" smile.

3. Professor Withit did not see the student and continued to walk to his office without acknowledging the smile. The student, miffed by the rebuff, cut class for the rest of the week.

4. Upon entering the departmental offices, Professor Withit overheard one of his ex-students telling another student, "Professor Withit`s class is one of the toughest in this department."

5. Later, Professor Withit dictated a letter to his secretary and requested that the letter be mailed that day. Two days later the letter left the office.

The questions you need to answer for this assignment:

  • How many of these five incidents would you classify as examples of communication? All five? Two? None of them?
  • Explain your answer for each.

I will give you my explanation in my comments to this assignment.

Recent Post

Order this Assignment now

Total: GBP120

fables template