Thursday, September 27, 2007

Human Communication

According to Beebe, Beebe and Ivy, “. . . human communication is the process of making sense out of the world and sharing that sense with others by creating meaning through the use of verbal and nonverbal messages.” This is one of many definitions for human communication. Consider that we almost always have problems with definitions. Take Christianity for example: many in the United States point to the Bible as the core document in their beliefs, but somehow they have come up with different definitions for their religions. We have to assume that if anyone were attempting to build the best possible definition it would be the founders of these denominations.

In discussions we do exactly the same thing. We can establish a basic definition from which our contributions to any discussion are drawn. Put another way, we decide what we think and then discuss from that position. In daily life application, probably all of us have had this experience. Mom asks us to clean our rooms. You set out to clean the room and in five minutes are finished. Mom comes by the room and says, “When are you going to clean your room?” Clearly there are different definitions of “clean” in those two minds.

Unfortunately, since we are all different and have had different experiences, we will always find that the starting point or definition in our mind is different from the starting point in the mind of others. For that reason, the definition above will be the one that should be used in discussions with classmates during the quarter. The definition is one of many possible definitions and should not be considered the best or only.

One last thought, words, like everything else, have to be defined by experience, real or vicarious. Each of us have had different experiences and that means that the words in our head don’t mean the same thing to everyone. They don’t even mean the same things to us over the years.

Communication is tough. To be successful each of us must spend a great deal of energy and time examining the communication process.

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