Communications Theories Paper
March 14, 2011
The Universal Communication Law states that “All living entities, beings, and creatures communicate.” Communication is the process in which individuals utilize symbols to interpret and determine meaning in their environment. Communication includes both face-to-face and mediated communication. It takes place through movement, sounds, reactions, languages, etc. “Communication theory helps us to understand other people and their communities, the media, and our associations with families friends, roommates, co-workers, and companions (West & Turner, 2004). Theory is “an abstract system of concepts and their relationships that help us to understand a phenomenon (West, 2004). Three communication theories are Symbolic Interaction Theory, Social Penetration Theory, and Uncertainty Reduction Theory.
Symbolic Interaction focuses on the relationships between symbols and interactions (West, 2004). The Symbolic Interaction Theory gives a reference to how people act and behave with symbolic meanings they find within given situations. The interactions with these symbols, in turn forms relationships around individuals. The overall goal of any interactions with one another is to create shared meanings toward objects, feelings, and each other. Some of the key points in the Symbolic Interaction Theory are as follows: individuals act toward each other based on the meaning and relationship those others have for them; meaning is created through the interactions individuals have in sharing personal interpretations of symbols; meanings are modified through a process of creating meaning and discussing it with others; self-concepts are developed through interactions with others; cultural and social processes influence individuals.
Before myself, Erin didn’t have many best friends. When I told Erin that she was my best friend, we interpreted it differently. To me, it meant that I loved her like family, I could turn to her for anything at anytime, and that I shared everything with her. Erin took the term more lightly and thought it meant that we would just hang out often share some things with each other. Through a few arguments and long discussions, we came a similar meaning of what best friends meant. The communication here was effective in that we eventually came to have a similar meaning of a word. It could have been more effective if it was discussed at the beginning what each of us thought it meant. In the future, I will pay attention to how others act towards words and ask questions about their interpretations.
When I was in junior high, the phrase “do you want to go out with me?” meant “do you want to be my girlfriend.” Because of our age and the fact that we didn’t drive, it was the junior high “universal meaning” of this phrase. However, when I reached high school, this changed. I had to learn to decipher when “let’s go out” meant hanging out outside of school as friends or dating. My interactions with people were key in developing these meanings. This communication was effective because I was able to obtain a similar meaning of what this phrase meant to others by utilizing symbols. This communication could have been more effective by using language to communicate what the phrase meant.
When discussing an issue with a close friend of mine, we came to realize that we didn’t share similar beliefs about what marriage meant. She explained to me that because she came from a home where her parents fought and eventually divorced, she saw marriage as nothing more that a piece of paper. I explained to her that I saw marriage as a symbol to show your partner that you will always care and love them, no matter what. I shared with her the symbols that led me to that interpretation of marriage and she began to understand. The communication was effective in that we was able to accurately describe our meanings of marriage. It could have been more effective if we were able to visually...
References: West, R. & Turner, H. (2004). Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application (2nd ed.). New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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