What is Communication?

Communication is a word you've probably heard since you were young, but I'll bet you can't define it.  Some people think communication is talking, conversation, making a speech or persuading someone of something.  Others think it's manners, etiquette or social graces. Merriam Webster defines communication as "an act or instance of transmitting," "information transmitted or conveyed," "a verbal or written message," "exchange of information," "personal rapport," or their most comprehensive definition, "a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior." Wikipedia has one of the most complete definitions of communication I have ever seen: "Communication is the activity of conveying information. Communication has been derived from the Latin word "communis", meaning to share. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver has understood the message of the sender." I know I was subtle by putting it in bold, purple letters, but didja catch that last part?  I'd go one step further.  Effective communication is complete when the receiver has understood the message of the sender, the way in which the sender had intended! True communication, effective communication requires that the listener understands the sender's message in the spirit it was intended or the message is skewed, misunderstood and the relationship between the sender and receiver has changed or is damaged in some way. Everyone talks, but not everyone truly communicates.  Everyone gets a message across, but not everyone has the ability to relate his message so effectively that his listener understands his message as it was intended.   Anyone can lecture, but not everyone can truly teach, enlighten.  Manners will only get you so far in a relationship.  A speech will not endear you to your neighbor.  A presentation will not help you resolve a conflict with your brother.  Social graces will not persuade a nation to elect the right candidate.  Etiquette cannot help you share your faith.  And the communication skills required for each of these activities are different. Everyone learns to talk.  Very few learn to communicate effectively.  It isn't because it's a set of skills only important for lawyers and politicians.  It's because society fully understands when communication is done badly, but does not understand that the reason behind the conflicts, divorce, lost job opportunities, and failed businesses is most often an inability to effectively express the vision. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com If you liked this post, please subscribe to our RSS feed and share the link…


  • Janet Harllee

    Love it JoJo! It’s a lot about mis-communication. You are so right the person needs to understand the message before it’s actually communicated. Great post!

  • JoJo

    Quite true, Carla. In my study, Say What You Mean: Avoiding, Reducing and Resolving Conflicts, I share the things both speakers AND listeners need to do to foster more effective communication.

  • Carla

    So true! You see a lot of things going around the net and especially on FB that say something like. . . “It’s only my job to tell you something, not to make you understand it,” but that’s not really true. To truly communicate, you have to make someone understand what you intended to say. Words have a lot of power and there are many ways to say the same thing. If you say something and it’s not understood in the spirit it was intended, it DOES cause problems as you so eloquently point out. In a perfect world, you would have a good communicator and an effective listener. Doesn’t always work out that way.

  • JoJo

    A very nice offer, but I don’t usually have guests post.

  • style for women

    I would love to write a guest post on your site. Can you send me guidelines to waytoff [at] waytoff dot com. thank you.

Leave a comment