DeVito (2012) claims that the Principles of Communication have numerous practical implications for our communication effectiveness. Studies suggest we are estimated to communicate and interact for up to 75% of everyday. However, all this time communicating doesn’t necessarily mean we are always communicating effectively, seen through events such as divorce, broken family relationships and friendships and dissatisfied employees and employers (Tubbs, S., 2010). Tubbs (2010, pg. 25) states “most generally communication is effective when the stimulus as it was initiated and intended by the sender, or source, corresponds closely to the stimulus as it is perceived and responded to by the receiver.” DeVito (2012) acknowledges seven principles of communication; of which I will apply three to a situation of miscommunication between my employer and I, and in doing so demonstrate how an understanding of these communication principles could have enhanced our communication effectiveness.
The situation to be examined is: Working as a part time employee, I emailed in sick. My boss appeared understanding and replied, “Don’t worry, feel better soon. We’ll have some work for you on Friday, so if you are up to it, come in then.” I replied, “Ok, sounds good.” I was still sick on Friday, didn’t go to work, and didn’t email to say I wouldn’t be in as I had assumed from the earlier email, my boss would know I was still sick if I didn’t turn up. He emailed me around lunchtime, annoyed at me for not letting him know I wouldn’t be in, as he had assumed from my “Ok, sounds good” response that I was saying I should be fine on Friday and so was expecting me. We both had assumed different meanings from our communication and that had created uncertainty between us leading to miscommunication. According to C.R Berger and J. J. Bradac (1982, cited in Beebee, Beebee & Redmond, 2008, pg. 18) “one of the purposes of communication, according to communication theorists, is to reduce our uncertainty.” Understanding just three of the principles, communication is a package of signals, communication is transactional, and communication is ambiguous, could have helped to reduce uncertainty, avoiding miscommunication.
Communication is a package of signals. Both verbal and non-verbal communication happen in groups, and the decoding of the ‘group’ of signals enable the receiver to generate meaning from the sender (Barnett & O’Rouke, 2011). DeVito (2012) suggests that for the most effective communication, verbal and non-verbal communication should be used together as they strengthen the message of the sender. Interactional theory, described by Barnett and O’Rouke (2011), looks at how the communication has happened. The process of this theory involves a sender, a message and a receiver. The sender “encodes” a message and uses a distribution channel (talking, phone, email) to send the message to the receiver who “decodes” it. It is only successful or effective, if the receiver understands the message as the sender intended. It is obvious that, with reference to my situation, a major misunderstanding occurred. By using email we were missing a ‘chunk’ or ‘part of the group’ of signals (being non-verbal communication e.g. tone, facial expressions). We needed to be more specific with our verbal communication to compensate for the missing group of signals. For example, my employer could have said “I have work on Friday, so if you are well, let me know and we can organize a time for you to come in”, or I could have said “Ok, sounds good. I will let you know by Thursday night whether I will be in on Friday.” In doing so, we both would have had a clear understanding of what was required of us, meaning that the messages were interpreted by the receiver as the sender planned.
Communication is transactional. Watzlawick 1977, 1978; Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackson, 1967, (cited in DeVito, 2012) defined this principle as having four parts; communication is always...
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