In this article we will discuss about Communication. After reading this article you will learn about: 1. Meaning of Communication 2. Components of Communication 3. Pattern 4. Categorization and Evaluation 5. Forms 6. Effect of Mass Media 7. Barriers.
- Meaning of Communication
- Components od Communication
- Pattern of Communication
- Categorization and Evaluation of Communication and their Source
- Forms of Communication
- Effect of Mass Media on Communication
- Barriers to Communication
1. Meaning of Communication:
It has been widely discussed how the system of communication greatly helps in the development, formation, growth and change of attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices. Group and individual behaviour also change significantly because of the effect of communication.
As we know, language is the chief source of communication. The ideas, experiences, feelings, sentiments and above all knowledge etc. are expressed and transmitted through language and speech. So it is said that language serves as an instrument of thought, and of communication, as a means of controlling the actions of others and as a cohesive force uniting the members of a particular community.
In democracy, communication is the main force influencing the opinion of the people. It helps in giving one’s opinion, in taking a decision and more so more often than not a right decision. Social organisation is not possible without communication. The influence of a group can only extent as far as the group has effective channels for communication.
Communication is the information that is passed from one person to another. In other words, it is transmission of information. For the transmission of information, certain component parts are necessary.
2. Components of Communication:
There are five component parts in an idealized communication system:
It is the place from where the communication starts or originates. In speech as a means of communication the source is the human being. When the communication is made through writing, the writer is the source.
It is used to transmit or broadcast information over radio or television signals.
In between the source and destination, there must be a channel through which the communication is to be transmitted. In speech the channel is the air. When the communication is made through writing, the paper is the channel or medium of communication.
When the medium of communication is audio or speech the ear of the person to whom the communication is made is the receiver. In writing, the receiver is the eye. Before the news reaches the destination the receiver receives it.
When the medium of communication is audio the person who hears it or whom the communication is meant is the destination. When communication is made through writing, the person for whom the message is meant and who reads it is the destination.
The above components are found in an idealized communication system whether it is audio or visual or audio-visual. As we know radio is an audio means of communication while TV is an audio visual means of communication and any message transmitted through writings or pictures is a visual means of communication.
The communication system originates with the source and ends with the destination.
3. Pattern of Communication:
The pattern of communication tends to be complex with the increase in the number of members in a group. In a group of only two persons the pattern of communication is of the simplest type. But when the number increases, it becomes difficult to understand the pattern of communication as it becomes more complicated like a net pattern.
The role of broadcasting net has been discussed at some quarters as a means of social organisation or organising the members of the group. Close analysis suggests that the broadcasting net does not organise the members of a group. It only permits them action and not interaction among the members. Unless there is interaction among group members, there cannot be social organisation.
This has led some to point out that it is not an important media of communication as it does not give enough opportunity for interaction. For instance, the telephone subscribers do not form a social group. They can, of course, allow interaction, but actually all lines are not used in the same frequency. A one way flow of communication from source to target does not help much in social interaction.
The intensity of communication pattern also depends upon traffic density. Some communication nets are extremely busy. Here, there is traffic density. If a particular channel is frequently used one may say that it has high traffic density.
If people prefer sending messages and informations to other members of the society through postal service than through telephones or verbal communications which are quite costly, since the postal channel is frequently used, we may say that it has too high traffic density.
Conversely, if a channel that exists, but is not used for the purpose of communication can be deleted from the communication net. A high traffic density suggests that a particular channel is important in the functioning of a group. By analysing traffic density, one can find the bottlenecks and blockings in group communication which ultimately decrease the morale and efficiency of the group.
The pattern of communication changes as the group communicates and interacts with each other. ‘A’ heard a particular information and kept it within himself. But as soon as he communicates them to ‘B’ the pattern of communication changes. A group continues to communicate until a uniform pattern is attained.
Once this uniform pattern is attained, there is no longer any need to communicate. Again when some new item of information is introduced, there is fresh interaction and the pattern of communication may be further complicated.
How can it be ascertained that a particular information has reached a member of the group? In small groups this can be known by the response of the person. But in large groups through some statistical method it can be ascertained to what extent members of a particular group are aware of a particular information and to what extent they are sure the information has reached some other group.
4. Categorization and Evaluation of Communication and their Source:
When a particular communication or information is received which is in consonance with the ego involvement of the person, it is readily accepted as it is categorized as closer to the person’s stand. But when it is not in consonance with his ego involvement, it is closer to his latitude of rejection and the tendency is greater to exaggerate the discrepancy.
Studies go to prove the fact that when a communication is within the latitude of acceptance, it is considered as correct, factual and unbiased. But when it is unacceptable or away from the latitude of acceptability it is considered as incorrect, biased and based on false facts.
In a study, Larimer (1966) showed that favourable evaluations on the issue of French, Canadian and Commonwealth unity were highest when the communication was within the latitude of acceptance and were significantly higher when the communication was within the latitude of noncommitment then when it fell within the rejected latitude.
Data of study by Hovland, Harvey and Sherif (1957) on the prohibition issue of Oklahoma and Biab (1967) on Arab unity issue in Lebanon show that favourable reactions to moderate communication increased as the distance between the person’s own stand and the position advocated in communication decreased.
In this connection, Sherif and Sherif hold that communications somewhat different from the person’s own position on an issue are most likely to change the person when they are not only evaluated as pleasing and fair, but are also within the range of positions that he assimilates towards himself.
The above view finds support in the study of Atkins (1967). He found the greatest change towards communications when the communication falls within the latitude of acceptance.
According to Sherif and Sherif at least four factors affect the range of assimilation:
(1) Degree of the persons’ involvement in his own position.
(2) Degree and kind of ego involvement with the source of communication.
(3) Degree of structure in the stimulus situation.
(4) The relative discrepancy of an object (e.g., communication) from the individual’s own position. It is also seen that a person or member of the society rarely responds to the content of communication. His evaluation of the source may be more important than the object or the Message (Asch-1940, Lewin-1967, Osgood et al., 1957).
If the frame of reference of the receiver is extensive and more or less complete, new informations contrary to the frame of reference and ego will produce very few change in behaviour. One can, therefore, reasonably conclude that there is a point beyond the person’s own position where he will be no more influenced by communication.
One way flow model of communication is inadequate to change behaviour and opinion.
5. Forms of Communication:
The forms of communication may be divided into:
(a) Verbal communication.
(b) Nonverbal communication.
(a) Verbal Communication:
Communication through writing or speaking refers to verbal communication. Thus verbal communication always requires the use of language. People start speaking before they learn to write. So verbal or oral communication normally starts with speaking. In written communication, books, news papers, letters, reports, records, applications and instruction play major part.
In case of oral communication there is always personal or face to face or voice to voice contract between the sender and the receiver of the communication. In direct face to face contact and discussion, both the sender and receiver of the communication have enough opportunity to exchange ideas, ask questions and seek clarifications.
An oral communication can be changed to suit the trend of the discussion and level of understanding of the receivers. Compared to written communication oral communication can be transmitted quickly and can be made more easy and simple.
Decisions can be taken quickly in oral communication. But one disadvantage of oral communication is that it cannot reach very far beyond one’s capacity of hearing unless loud speakers, walki-talkies and telephones are used.
(b) Nonverbal Communication:
Any communication without the use of speech and language refers to converbal communication. Gestures, smiles, cries, signs and signals, all traffic signs, red and green signals denoting “stop” and “proceed” respectively, expression of attitudes and emotions through facial expression, change in body position, head movements expressing Yes or No refer to nonverbal communication.
Nonverbal communication by the large is used to communicate the various feelings, emotions, likes and dislikes preferences and rejections of a person.
In the beginning usually and mostly the mother and infant communicate through nonverbal means like smile, expression of happiness, anger and resentment in the face etc. When the baby returns a smile to the smile of his mother, he is communicating nonverbally.
Nonverbal communication is very often used when one does not know the language of another person, when one’s language skill has not developed and also in emotional situations. Non verbal communication is also seen in various dance forms.
Lower organism like ants, bees use nonverbal form of communication through the movement of their body along with certain sounds. From the lower organism when one ascends to the higher ones, sound is used as an important means of non verbal communication.
Birds, apes, elephants, monkeys, tigers and lions, various domestic animals like cows, dogs and cats etc. use sound to communicate their feelings, needs and ideas.
Nonverbal communication is always used by animals and those human beings who are deaf and dumb. However, normal human beings use it as a gesture to express emotional states and when they don’t want to speak because of environmental constraints.
Children also use nonverbal language when their language development is not complete. Dance is an excellent example of non verbal communication. The nonverbal communication plays a vital role in man’s interpersonal behaviour.
Actually nonverbal communication starts first from which verbal communication grows. Even when one knows language, he uses at times nonverbal communication. It is used by young and old babies and lower organisms. Both verbal and nonverbal communications are made through sound and vision. The written words use visual communications while the spoken words involve auditory communication.
A written communication has some advantages over the oral communication. It is more permanent can be distributed to several individuals. It provides authority and responsibility to the communication. But it is slow and time consuming compared to oral communication. Written communication is a one way process and there is no change between the sender and receiver to communicate directly.
As an individual grows from infancy to adulthood, he more relies on verbal communication. Automatically the use of nonverbal communication decreases. Nonverbal communication can also be used with verbal communication.
6. Effect of Mass Media on Communication:
Mass communications prove extremely powerful in determining public opinion in forming or changing beliefs.
As observed by Wright (1959) mass communications are public, rapid and transient. Since they are not directed to any particular individual or group but to the common mass, to anyone who hears or sees it, they are public.
The information that is telecast or broadcast from the TV or radio respectively spreads very rapidly to all parts of the country or even outside the country. That is why, people view the TV to get latest information. But the mass communication messages are transient or short lived. They are forgotten quickly and easily.
The purpose of mass communication is to strengthen the already existing attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes and prejudices or to change them and form new ones.
While strengthening is easier than change, unless the frame of reference and ego needs tally with the communication received, it is difficult though not impossible to accept it. Experience shows that people avoid such informations which threaten or go against their frame of references they already have.
If you are strongly in favour of a political party or political leader having a strong support from the ego and frame of reference, any communication against your belief will not be easily tolerated. Sometimes people do not like to hear any such anti communication and switch off the TV or radio.
If it is a meeting, they either strongly object or ignore or leave the meeting place. In such cases, the communication received through the mass media becomes very temporary or transitory. Studies indicate that people tend to retain those facts which tally with their previous beliefs and attitudes.
Large amount of applied research studies have been undertaken on the effectiveness of mass media or communications. Particularly, their effect on marketing, advertising and political behaviour has been studied.
Sherif and Sherif hold that results indicate little evidence of attitude change and absolutely no change in behaviour like buying goods and giving votes. Some results further shows that mass media campaign even showed reverse impact because of the persuasion effect. If people are pressurized and persuaded through repeated propaganda, it may have a negative effect.
A Study of the 1940 presidential elections, “The people’s choice” indicated that very few votes changed their original party of choice during the campaign and that those who did, referred to their family friends and other interpersonalities more frequently than to newspapers and radio.
Information campaigns combining the power of the mass media with information yielded such meagre effects that a still popular article was entitled “some reasons why information campaigns fail.”
Of course, this result might have occurred due to several uncontrolled variables. In view of the huge amount spent by various governments on information campaigns through mass media, one can say that it is not worthwhile.
However, regarding fads and fashions, mass media have a profound influence. The advertisements shown on TV relating to consumer goods strongly influence the attitude of people. That is why, it is found now-a-days that about 30% to 40% of the time in serials is spent on advertisements. Unless there is benefit the industrialists and businessmen would not have spent so much of money on advertisements.
A large number of investigations conducted by Hovland and Weiss (1951) showed that by varying the source of communication the attitude of people regarding communication itself can be changed. They further showed that an identical communication evoked different reactions depending on the source of the communication rather than the content of the communication.
If the source of communication commands prestige then the content of the communication will be accepted otherwise it will be rejected.
That is why, we accept the broadcast in radio or telecast on TV or news printed in reputed papers and do not accept what is published in third grade or fourth grade small newspapers who survive due to gossip columns and which do not command our respect. Hovland et al. (1953) have found that when the propaganda materials go against social norms, they tend to the rejected.
Further if the content of communication is against the group norms, the communicator instead of being accepted will be considered as bias, as a mere propaganda for selfish interest. Thus, a communication to be accepted or to succeed or to have effect should not oppose the group or social norms and existing frame of reference. It should, on the other hand, appear to strengthen and reinforce the existing group norm.
7. Barriers to Communication:
Because of some obstacles and gaps in communication misunderstanding and break downs occur in the communication net work.
The barriers of communication can be:
(i) Physical Barrier:
Lack of loud speaker or public address system may stand as a physical barrier when one has to communicate to large number of members in a public meeting. During election time absence of public address system becomes a barrier between the leader and the public.
Similarly for addressing a small meeting of executives in the Conference Hall of an organisation the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) requires loud voice if there is no mike there. Even in a class room for communicating with the students, the teacher requires, loud voice. If what the teacher say is not heard by the students, the teaching has no meaning and the communication becomes meaningless.
To-day due to the development in communication system there are satellite and electronic communication systems which have helped to overcome the physical barriers of communication.
(ii) Psychological Barriers:
The incapacity to communicate through proper language the realities and experiences of life is considered as the psychological barrier of communication. All people are not capable of properly expressing their experiences and views orally or in writing. This may be due to inherent difficulties or due to early childhood training.
Some people are so introvert that they speak very less or because they are not taught to communicate during early years, so they answer questions in Yes or No or answer after repeated stimulations. Such people are given the scope to talk less or they did not get the scope to interact with others.
Because of certain psychological shocks also some people are very less communicative. They are a disgusting sort of people so far as social communication is concerned. Being uncommunicative they become utter failures in social situations, in class room teaching, in group discussions and seminars.
Even though they know the correct answers they are very reluctant to give a reply. They give very short answers mostly in ‘Yes’ no or “May be”.
Personal experiences also stand on the way of communication. Even though two individuals speak the same language, and while travelling in a train they are copassengers, but fail communicate with each other because of some unpleasant past experience of one of them or both.
Different languages also stand as barrier in communication process. Two copassengers travelling in a train may not be able to communicate with each other properly as one does not know the language of another.
Emotional characters and mental limitations of human beings also act as psychological barrers to communication. Communication may be blocked due to unfavourable attitudes, biases and prejudices of the persons who are to communicate.
When ‘a person tries to evaluate a message from his own stand point than the stand point of the sender, communication is blocked. Strangers and unknown persons, persons from different linguistic and cultural back ground communicate less because of these barriers.
In order to overcome the barriers and problems in communication one has to be trained from the early childhood to inter act not only with parents and family members but also with peers, neighbour hood and class mates. He should be encouraged to speak and read without hesitation when occasion demands. Judicious development of emotional and social life helps a great deal in overcoming the barriers of communication.