Communication

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CHAPTER

ONE

Introduction to Human
Communication
What will you learn?
When you have read and thought about this chapter, you will be able to: 1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

State reasons why the study of communication is essential.
Define communication.
Name the components of communication.
Explain some principles of communication.
Explain the ways in which intrapersonal, interpersonal, public, and mass communication differ from each other.
6. Define communication competence.
7. Name some of the tenets of the National Communication Association Credo on Ethics.

I

n this chapter you will be introduced to communication,

including some of the fundamental concepts and terms you will need to know for the remainder of this text. You will learn why it is important to study communication and how communication is defined. This chapter will show you how communication begins with you and extends to other people, and it will identify the components of communication. Finally, you will learn about the characteristics of the various communication contexts.

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4

Part One Fundamentals of Communication Studies

“T

alk and change the world.” This is the slogan of a group of female U.S. senators who have been meeting for over a decade. The group is composed of both Democrats and Republicans. It
has had some notable success in helping U.S. women achieve economic, social, and political equality. For instance, the women in the group have supported providing retirement funds for homemakers and medical trials include more women.

After the 2006 elections, the group expanded to 16 women, the largest number of women in the Senate in the history of the country. Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America took note of this historic moment by interviewing the group soon after the elections. Several of the senators stressed the importance of communication in advancing various causes, whether it be enhancing national security or creating economic opportunity. Today’s political culture more often than not involves vicious party battles. In contrast, Senator Olympia Snow of Maine described the group of female senators as “a zone of civility where members disagree without being disagreeable.” Several senators noted they are “agents of change,” serving as a model for “a new chapter in American politics.” They claimed to be “fresh voices” in bringing diverse people together to find common ground. As the interview progressed, the group of 16 Democrats and Republicans pledged to build consensus to solve the many problems facing the country. (For more information about this interview, go to goodmorningamerica.com.)

This story is meaningful on several levels. For one thing, it shows the potential for change based on an approach in which both parties work together. For another, it indicates that women are gradually cracking the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Perhaps most important, however, it shows the many roles that communication plays in the group’s efforts. Through communication of their vision, these women persuaded voters to elect them. Through communication, they were able to find common ground, cutting across deeply divided party lines. Through communication, they staked out an agenda to advance the causes, not just of other women, but of the entire country. Both their individual and collective stories teach us one thing: Communication is the foundation on which personal and social success is built. In this chapter you will learn about communication on a deeper level, including the terms, processes, and contexts of communication.

Communication Is Essential

Studying communication is essential for you. Communication is central to your life. Effective communication can help you solve...
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