Describe two or more instances of miscommunication in the
A Failure to Communicate
(Links to an external site.)
Describe two of the six basic principles of effective interpersonal communication, utilizing Bevan (Section 1.4)
Here are the principles of competent communication: taking responsibility for your behavior, trying to achieve shared meaning, acknowledging multiple views, respecting others and yourself, listening and evaluating the message before responding, and learning and practicing your communication skills.
For further elaboration of these principles, watch one or more of the videos in the â€œResourcesâ€ box in the top-right corner of this assignment prompt.
Explain how the characters in the video follow or do not follow the two principles identified, utilizing Bevan.
Explain one or more form(s) of noise from Bevan (Section 1.2) and how it caused the miscommunication in the video, utilizing Bevan.
These include physical, physiological, psychological, and semantic noise.
Discuss how this noise can be overcome, based on advice from Bevan.
Bevan Section 1.4
How This Book Will Help You Communicate More Competently
The field of interpersonal communication encompasses a large body of information. The pri
mary goals of this text are to increase your awareness of the principles of effective interper
sonal communication and to enable you to appropriately and effectively apply these princip
les in your everyday interactions. Remember that communication is a process, which mean
s that your goals might change over the course of an interaction or that a new goal might be
come more important. Interpersonal communication is a lifelong study that requires ongoi
ng practice for everyone. The notion of being both appropriate and effective in your interac
tions with others is called communication competence, and we will return to this term th
roughout the text to illustrate its utility in a variety of communication situations.
Competent sometimes has a connotation of â€œgood enoughâ€ or â€œpassable.â€ However, as it rela
tes to interpersonal communication, competence is what we think of when we envision the
qualities of a skilled communicator (Spitzberg, 2000; Spitzberg & Cupach, 2011). Communi
cation researchers Brian Spitzberg and William Cupach introduced the concept of communi
cation competence nearly 35 years ago, and their definition that includes the essential aspe
cts of communication competence is our focus here. Though Spitzberg and Cupach (2011) b
elieve that being interpersonally skilled is essential for developing interpersonal relationsh
ips, they also estimate that 7% to 25% of adults are not interpersonally competent. Yet, wit
h some guidance, such as what is offered in this text, communication competence is an imp
ortant interpersonal skill that many individuals can improve.
Effectiveness and appropriateness are both essential parts of communication competence
we need to be both effective and appropriate to be communicatively competent. However, t
hese two parts can conflict with one another, and learning to successfully balance them can
be a challenge. The following sections elaborate on both aspects that define communication
competence, describe three factors that can improve your communication competence, an
d introduce a test that you can complete to determine your current level of communication
The first aspect of being a competent communicator is being effective. Being an effective co
mmunicator means, quite simply, achieving your goals. Effectiveness refers to how well yo
u are able to get what you want from an interaction. This can be as simple as achieving shar
ed meaning with another person when the message you encode is decoded in a similar man
ner. Effectiveness can also involve specific goals, or intentions, that you bring to and take p
art in during an interaction. For example, you might make an appointment with your boss t
o ask for a raise, and, in this case, you would not classify the communication as effective si
mply because you and your boss both understand what the meeting is about. Instead, you
would feel that the interaction is effective only if your boss increases your salary.
Though being an effective communicator seems simple, it becomes more complicated when
you acknowledge that there are two communicators with separate but interdependent co
mmunication goals. In other words, is it possible for both individuals to be effective commu
nicators and to achieve multiple outcomes they both seek? The answer to this question dep
ends on a number of factors. Consider again the meeting you scheduled with your boss. If t
he communicatorsâ€™ goals conflictâ€”
you seek a raise but your bossâ€™s goal is to not agree to oneâ€”
then it is difficult to achieve mutual communication effectiveness. However, if you and your
boss compromise, each giving up something to reach an agreement that works for both of
you, then you and your boss will likely leave the interaction feeling as if you at least somew
hat accomplished your goals. However, if both communicators have similar goalsâ€”
you and your boss both want you to get a raiseâ€”
it is much easier for everyone to feel as if they are effective. Further, it is possible to still fee
l you are effective even if you do not achieve all of your initial goals. As we noted earlier in t
his chapter, communication is a process, so your goals are likely to shift during an interacti
on. Thus, if your boss responds to your request for a raise by telling you that the company i
s in trouble and that they are struggling just to keep you on as an employee, your goal will li
kely switch from seeking more money to making a strong case to keep your job.
Klaus Vedfelt/Iconica/Getty Images
Social norms can help you determine what is appropriate in a specific communication inter
action. In American culture, for example, shaking hands with a new acquaintance is a custo
mary behavior in professional contexts.
Communication competence is also inherently defined by appropriateness, or the conside
ration of the rules, norms, and expectations of others in an interaction. For example, comm
unicators are appropriate when they learn and follow rulesâ€”
which are directions indicating the obligated, preferred, and prohibited behaviors in certai
n contexts and situationsâ€”
during an interaction (Shimanoff, 1980). These rules take into account the broader context
of the interaction, and the context of the interaction assists in determining which appropria
teness standards are to be met (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2011).
Some rules are established by a society or culture in the form of social norms. For example,
in U.S. culture, it is a customary social norm to shake hands when you first meet someone i
n a professional setting. Rules or norms can also be unique to a relationship; for instance, o
ne might follow the rules of monogamy when in an exclusive relationship with a romantic p
artner. Some rules can even be specific to an individual. For example, a professor might ask
students to refrain from using laptops or tablets during class. Such rules and expectations a
re often implicit, meaning that they are not directly and clearly stated, yet we are aware of t
hem. In fact, we are often most mindful and conscious of rules and expectations when they
As noted above, sometimes it is difficult to balance effectiveness and appropriateness durin
g an interaction, but both are necessary elements of communication competence. The abilit
y to be both effective and appropriate takes practice. You might get what you want if you ar
e effective but not appropriate, yet doing so will likely upset, hurt, or damage your relations
hip with the other person. Conversely, if you follow the rules and act the way you are expec
ted toâ€”if you are appropriate but not effectiveâ€”
you might not get what you want. However, communicators who make an effort to get alon
g and treat others with respect are more likely to achieve their goals.
Factors That Facilitate Communication Competence
How can we become competent communicators? According to Spitzberg and Cupachâ€™s (198
4) model of communication competence, which goes beyond their definition to help us i
ncrease our competence, there are three things that can assist us in being more competent:
(1) knowledge, (2) motivation, and (3) skill.
Knowledge is the necessary awareness of which behaviors or messages are effective or ap
propriate in a particular situation. This knowledge can be about content, such as the topic o
f the conversation or information about the other communicator. For example, you might h
ave knowledge about someoneâ€™s food or movie preferences. But knowledge can also be abo
ut procedure, such as how an interaction should or could proceed. For example, you might
know how to best solve a problem or predict someoneâ€™s reaction to a message. Both conten
t and procedural knowledge can improve communication competence.
The second factor that facilitates an individualâ€™s communication competence is motivation
, which Spitzberg and Cupach (2011) define as a force that energizes and guides us to appro
ach or avoid in a social situation. In other words, we have to actually want to be effective an
d appropriate in order to be competent. We may have the knowledge that we need to be
competent, but choose to not use it. Conflict is an example of an interpersonal situation wh
ere communicators often are not motivated to be competent. If you are engaged in a conflic
t with a close relational partner, you might get so upset and frustrated by the topic and the
messages exchanged that you intentionally decide to insult your partner, punch a hole in a
wall, or storm outâ€”all of which display limited communication competence.
Finally, skill is a factor that facilitates competence. Skill is the ability to demonstrate the be
haviors deemed most competent in a particular situation or context. Skill is dependent on k
nowledge and motivation; we must possess both before we can develop skill. However, eve
n if we are knowledgeable and motivated, there is no guarantee we will be skilled in an inte
raction. For example, you might know how to behave and be motivated to act accordingly i
n a specific situation, but perhaps you still perform poorly. This type of response can happe
n in a job interview, a public speaking situation, and even a first date.
Complete the communication competence scale provided in the following SelfTest feature. Communication competence is an important interpersonal skill, and it require
s awareness of our individual communication patterns. Try to be honest with yourself as yo
u complete the scale, or even ask a friend, family member, or romantic partner to complete
it on your behalf. Then evaluate your results and reflect on areas you could improve. The ne
xt sections discuss techniques for improving your intrapersonal communication and develo
ping your communication competence.
Interpersonal Communication Competence
To be a more competent (and therefore a more appropriate and effective) communicator,
be sure to keep the following principles in mind and work to demonstrate them in your eve
ryday interactions with other people:
1. Take responsibility for your communication behavior. Take ownership of the message
s that you encode by striving to be accurate and clear in your nonverbal and verbal c
ommunication with others. Also accept the consequences if you decode someone els
eâ€™s messages inaccurately by asking for clarification, apologizing, and engaging in act
ive listening practices.
2. Remember that communication involves shared meaning. Each person in an interacti
on is a communicatorâ€”
not just the sender or the receiver. As a communicator, each person has an equal res
ponsibility to work toward achieving this mutual understanding and interpretation.
3. Acknowledge that your view of a situation is only one of many views. Try to take the p
erspective of other people and consider how their point of view makes sense to the
m. Our natural human â€œbiasâ€ is to focus on ourselves and our own needs, and that ex
tends to how we communicate as well. We often think that how we have said somet
hing is the only way to express something or that someone has said something just t
o hurt us. Though it is difficult, step back and try to put yourself in the other personâ€™
s shoes. What are their goals? Where are they coming from? Why might they have th
at viewpoint? We will discuss how to acknowledge othersâ€™ perspectives throughout
4. Respect others as well as yourself. Having regard and appreciation for the values, feeli
ngs, and traditions of other people, groups, and cultures is showing respect. You sho
uld also respect your own beliefs, emotions, and traditions. Striving for a balance bet
ween these two is sometimes a challenge, but being respectful of yourself and others
in an interaction creates winwin outcomes in communication encounters. Specifically, this occurs when both par
ties get their needs met, not when one person â€œwinsâ€ an argument or controls a disc
ussion at the expense of the other personâ€™s feelings or interests.
5. Listen and evaluate the other personâ€™s statements before responding. Being able to list
enâ€”not just physiologically hearing what is being communicatedâ€”
is an essential principle, as doing so allows you to purposefully and consciously be a
ctively involved in the communication process. Then, choose your verbal and nonve
rbal messages carefully to both create shared meaning and be a competent commun
6. Learn and practice your communication skills. Communication skills are learned, dev
eloped, and honed through knowledge (awareness of the best message for a particul
ar situation), motivation (a desire to be a competent communicator), and the skill (h
aving the tools to be a competent communicator) that is earned through practice. Ea
ch chapter in this textâ€”and particularly the next chapterâ€”
provides suggestions that will help you practice new strategies to be a more compet
Link to A Failure to Communicate Video
Two Models of Communication
Communication as an academic discipline has both a long and a short history. Broadly, the s
tudy of communication is rooted in the traditions of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and ancient G
reek philosophy. Specifically, the art of persuasion, known as rhetoric, promoted citizen par
ticipation in democracy during this time. Rhetoric remains an important area in communic
ation today. In contrast, the modern study of communication, and the emergence of interpe
rsonal communication in particular, began in the 20th century. In the first four decades of t
hat century, speech and oratory aspects of communication were studied at American unive
rsities in different social science and humanities departments such as anthropology, Englis
h, political science, and sociology. However, from 1940 to the mid1960s, the study of communication started to evolve into a distinct discipline.
It was also in the 1960s that the field of interpersonal communication â€œcame into its own as
an identifiable academic disciplineâ€ (Bryant & PribanicSmith, 2010, p. 26). The early focus was on persuasion, influence, and group communicatio
n, but there was also a growing interest during the 1970s in how cognition was related to i
nterpersonal interaction. The study of interpersonal communication continued to advance
between the 1970s and 1980s, with substantial growth in university courses and the found
ing of professional associations and journals (Bryant & PribanicSmith, 2010). The field of interpersonal communication continues to grow and evolve with
the everchanging nature of social interactions thanks to the popularity of social media and technolo
gical conduits that facilitate interpersonal communication, such as texting and video chatti
Since the 1940s, when the study of communication split from other academic disciplines, co
mmunication scholars proposed their own theories and models to explain communication i
nteractions. Theories are claims and beliefs researchers develop and then test in controlle
d studies or in realworld situations. When communication scholars create and test theories, they provide infor
mation about the communication process that is based on research and evidence. Such prac
tices also help advance communication as an academic discipline. Researchers also create
models to illustrate communication concepts and theories. Models are simple representati
ons, in an ideal form, of a process or an object. Although models provide a simplified view o
f something that is typically more complex, they are useful because they clarify the nature o
f a phenomenon or a process. A model also highlights the elements a scholar believes are pa
rticularly important and allows us to examine how an element is related to other parts of th
e model. Theories and models are important tools to illustrate the researcherâ€™s systematic t
hinking about a topic.
The following interactive scenario demonstrates elements of communication with follow up disc
ussion and questions.
With new research findings in interpersonal communication, researchers expanded upon t
he disciplineâ€™s preliminary models and theories. To illustrate the evolution of these commu
nication models, we will discuss two types of communication models: (1) the linear model
and (2) the transaction model. Letâ€™s examine these models and discuss how they differ.
The Linear Model of Communication
In 1948, Bell Telephone Company engineer and mathematician Claude Shannon was assign
ed the task of determining the most efficient way to transmit electrical signals from one loc
ation to another. As a result, Shannon developed one of the most influential early linear mo
dels of communication. He called his model the mathematical theory of communication, and
it was originally published in The Bell System Technical Journal. Shannon later worked with
mathematician Warren Weaver to create a description of this communication model that w
as accessible to the general public, which is known today as the Shannonâ€“
Weaver model of communication (see Figure 1.1). A number of linear models were develop
ed at this time, but the Shannonâ€“Weaver model is the most significant.
Figure 1.1: The Shannonâ€“Weaver model of communication
The linear model of communication, developed by Claude Shannon and Warren Wea
ver, was originally created to represent mechanical communication and was the first
model to visually depict the communication process.
Source: Shannon, C. E. (1948, July, October). A mathematical theory of communication. The Bell System Technical Journal, Vol
. 27, pp. 379â€“423. Courtesy of Nokia Corporation and AT&T Archives Â© 1948 Nokia. All Rights Reserved.
Shannon postulated that all communication could be broken down into three components:
an information source, a channel or path, and a destination (Weaver & Shannon, 1963). In t
his model, the information source is the sender, who has a message to transmit. This mess
age is transformed into a signal that travels along a channel (the medium or the means thr
ough which a message is transmitted) before reaching its destination. The transmitter and
receiver shown in the Shannonâ€“
Weaver model were devices such as telephone handsets that sent and received the informa
tion signal. The Shannonâ€“
Weaver model focused on the mechanism of transmitting electrical signals, not on the cont
ent of the message. Because it focused on the mechanical and technical issues involved in m
essage transmission, the model did not explain the complexities of human communication.
Nevertheless, Shannon made two important contributions to the field of communication.
First, Shannon defined and quantified the sometimesimprecise notion of information, which is defined as stimuli from individualsâ€™ surrounding
s that contribute to their beliefs and knowledge (Brashers, Goldsmith, & Hsieh, 2002). He b
elieved that telephone signals, radio waves, photographs, film, and other media could all be
considered information, and this information could be encoded in binary digits, or bits, whi
ch would enable relay circuits to perform complex mathematical operations and to transmi
t this digital information without error. Almost 50 years elapsed before Shannonâ€™s informat
ion concept had practical application, but today this concept forms the operational basis us
ed for computers and other electronic devices, making items such as mobile devices, DVDs,
and broadband communication possible. In fact, Shannon is now referred to as the father of
information technology and is credited with singlehandedly creating todayâ€™s digital revolution (Waldrop, 2001).
Second, the Shannonâ€“
Weaver model introduced the idea of noise into the communication process. Shannon defin
ed noise as anything that interferes with, corrupts, or changes the communication signal as
it travels through a channel. In essence, noise is anything in the background that impacts o
r affects how we interpret a communication message. Again, Shannon primarily focused on
technical noise in the signal transmission, such as static on a telephone line. But he recogniz
ed that communicators could experience semantic noise, which occurs when messages are
understood or interpreted differently or when interference arises because of the language
used by one or more of the communication participants. We will return to the concept of no
ise in the next section.
In the Shannonâ€“
Weaver model, the sender of the message is the primary and only active participant in the c
ommunication process. The sender is responsible for clearly and accurately communicating
to the receiver, who passively accepts whatever message the sender transmits. If the comm
unicated message fails to produce shared meaning or desired results due to noise, then res
earchers simply examine how the sender formed the message or develop methods for impr
oving message transmission. If we use the linear model to analyze Kim and Patâ€™s conversati
on about what to have for dinner, we might assume Kim is responsible for clear communica
tion and she is at fault when Pat does not know that she is available to have dinner with hi
m. We might suggest that Kimâ€™s question, â€œWhat are we doing for dinner tonight?â€, should b
e more explicit or clearer, such as, â€œIâ€™m available for dinner with you tonight after allâ€”
do you want to do something?â€
In the 1950s and early 1960s, researchers adapted the Shannonâ€“
Weaver model and applied its concepts to the process of human communication. Several sc
holars during this time made contributions to our knowledge of interpersonal communicati
on. One model in particular still affects our understanding of interpersonal communication
today: the transaction model.
The Transaction Model of Communication
As communication became established as a distinct discipline, researchers recognized that
communication was not inherently linear and that both senders and receivers were influen
tial, active participants in the communication process. As a result, researchers developed th
e interaction model of communication. The interaction model depicted the sender and the re
ceiver, as the linear model of communication does, but also emphasized both participantsâ€™ s
equential turns when they exchanged messages.
As the study of communication progressed, researchers recognized it was not necessary to
receive a message before sending a message. Communicators send and receive messages at
the same time and had mutual influence during the interaction. For example, while one per
son is speaking, the second person could smile or frown and thus send a nonverbal messag
e. The two participants in the interaction are both simultaneously a sender and a receiver o
f messages. Instead of comparing communication to shooting an arrow, as in the linear mod
el, or hitting a tennis ball back and forth, as in the interaction model, communication can be
more accurately described as a dance. Researchers acknowledged that participants would
rely on each otherâ€™s cues and that their combined movements influenced the direction of th
eir interaction. This interplay between the communicators is a transaction, and these later
models of communication are known as transaction models.
A transaction model of interpersonal communication identifies four major components of
the communication process:
â€¢ Both parties are active participants who simultaneously serve as senders and receiv
â€¢ Information flows in both directions.
â€¢ There are both verbal and nonverbal messages.
â€¢ Communication takes place to meet the needs of both people.
The sender and receiver are mutually responsible for the creation of meaning. The two part
ies must negotiate to achieve as much shared meaning as possible. Elements of the transact
ion modelâ€”feedback, context, and noise, among othersâ€”
are detailed here. Each of these can influence shared meaning between the parties.
Sender and Receiver
Though senders and receivers are addressed as separate elements of communication, each
party in an interaction should be considered both a sender and a receiver, or, simply, a com
municator. The sender is the source of the communication. That initiation can be as simple
as eye contact or as formal as a mailed wedding invitation. Most communication researcher
s agree that senders can initiate an interaction either intentionally or unintentionally. For e
xample, if you call â€œhello!â€ across the street to your neighbor, but a cable repairman nearby
thinks you are calling to him instead and says hello as well, you have unintentionally begun
an interaction with the repairman.
Recall that the receiver is the recipient of the message the sender transmits. As noted previ
ously, early communication models considered the receiver a passive participant in the co
mmunication process, but researchers today believe the receiver is actively engaged in the
communication process. Communication participants are simultaneously senders and recei
Before communication can occur, the sender must first encode the idea she wants to comm
unicate or put the idea into some form or code the other person can understand. Therefore,
encoding involves the creation of meaning. Language is a type of verbal communication co
de. Nonverbal communications, such as gestures, eye contact, and touch, are codes as well. I
f the other person does not understand the message, she will not be able to decode or inter
pret the message in the way the sender intends. This is called miscommunication, and it is li
kely that there is a barrier present that is causing this miscommunication to occur. For exa
mple, placing the thumb and forefinger together to form a circle is a nonverbal code that ca
n mean â€œOKâ€ in the United States. However, the same gesture is considered offensive in Bra
zil and Germany (Hayden, 2007).
In the communication process, the message is the content of the communication itselfâ€”
the idea the sender wishes to communicate to the receiver. Messages are
perceived via one or more of our five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell);
planned, unintentional, or somewhere in between; and
communicated via both verbal and nonverbal codes.
Messages are only understood if the idea is encoded by the sender and decoded by the recei
ver in a similar manner and if shared meaning is achieved.
According to interpersonal communication scholars, messages also contain both content an
d relational dimensions (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967). The content dimension of
the message is the information the sender wants to communicate to the receiver. The relati
onal dimension of the message is the relationship between the two communicators. The n
ature of the relationship can include factors such as who has more or less power, how muc
h communicators like or dislike each other, and the feelings one or both communicators ex
perience during the interaction. Typically, the content dimension is transmitted through ve
rbal communication, and the relational dimension is more subtly expressed via nonverbal c
We can use both verbal codes and nonverbal codes, such as hand gestures, to communicate
When compared with the content dimension of a message, the relational dimension is often
less clear or ambiguous and may require verbal verification. For example, if your boss says,
â€œIâ€™d like to see you in my office,â€ the content of the message is clear and simple. However, t
he relational dimension may cause you to feel concern. Maybe you analyze your bossâ€™s tone
of voice or facial expressions. Perhaps you mentally review your recent work and interacti
ons with your boss to predict if the meeting will be a positive or a negative experience. As y
ou can see from this example, verbal and nonverbal messages and the content and relationa
l dimensions of messages all affect message encoding and decoding.
Multiple channels can be used to transmit messages in an interaction. For example, when t
wo people talk face-toface, they use the auditory channel when they speak and listen, the visual channel when the
y observe each otherâ€™s gestures and facial expressions, and the tactile channel when there i
s physical contact. In addition, the channel could be mediated in some way, which, as noted
earlier, means that a form of information technology is intervening between the sender and
the receiver in the communication process. When communication occurs via a mediated ch
annel, other channel options are often limited. For example, mediated channels would easil
y support the visual and auditory channels described above, but make tactile (touch) and ol
factory (scent) channels impossible to use.
As mentioned previously, for communication to be effective, the message must have the sa
me or similar meaningâ€”a shared understandingâ€”
for both communicators. We cannot be sure if the message sent is the same as the message
received until we assess the feedback, another element of the communication process. Fee
dback is any information a communicator gets from others in response to a message. Feed
back can be verbal or nonverbal and often includes elements of both. For example, if you tel
l a child his lunch is ready, he might race into the house (nonverbal) and shout â€œhoorayâ€ (ve
both elements are forms of feedback. Feedback is an important component in the communi
cation process because it is the method we use to gauge the success of the communication.
Feedback also provides the opportunity to alter our messages and to try to communicate ag
ain if the previous message is not understood or if shared understanding is not achieved.
Every day we are presented with countless messages and sensory experiences, from signs a
nd advertisements to interactions with strangers. These messages or sensations inevitably
influence how both individuals interpret the interaction, and are thus classified as noise. Re
call that noise was first discussed in relation to Shannon and Weaverâ€™s linear model of com
munication, though Shannonâ€™s primary view of noise was technological in nature. Communi
cation scholars have since determined there are four specific types of noise that, though oft
en unrelated to the message and usually occurring in the background, can impact how that
message is interpreted.
Physical noise includes distractions that originate from the environment and externa
l stimuli rather than from the communicatorsâ€”
such as a ringing or vibrating phone, traffic outside your window, other students tal
king during class, or even spam email. Physical noise is thus an external form of noise.
Psychological noise occurs when one or both communicatorsâ€™ cognitions or mental st
ates interfere with how messages are interpreted. Biases, prejudices, stereotypes, an
d even extreme emotions such as rage are examples of psychological noise. Psycholo
gical noise is thus an internal form of noise and is most likely to occur when a comm
unicator has extreme views or even a viewpoint on the opposite end of the spectrum
. Our own anxieties, worries, and selfdoubts can be forms of psychological noise as well.
â€¢ Physiological noise occurs when one or both communicators have an impairment tha
t influences communication interpretation. Examples of physiological impairment in
clude visual or speech impairments, difficulty with or loss of hearing, memory loss, a
nd mental health issues that interfere with oneâ€™s ability to encode or decode messag
es. Biases such as racial and gender prejudices and extreme emotional experiences i
n the heat of an argument can also be examples of physiological noise.
â€¢ Semantic noise occurs when one or both communicators assign different meanings t
o a message. One example of semantic noise involves communicators who speak diff
for example, one individual only speaks English, and the other only understands Spa
nish. Other examples can include different interpretations of a nonverbal signal, suc
h as the aforementioned â€œOKâ€ hand gesture in the U.S. versus Brazil and Germany. U
se of complex terms or jargon can also create semantic noise. Even speech that is too
vague or ambiguous can lead to semantic noise due to misinterpretation.
Any or all of these forms of noise can be present in an interaction. Obviously, the more nois
e that there is during an interaction, the more difficulty the communicators will have focusi
ng on the messages that they are exchanging and on creating shared meaning. In some case
s, asking for clarification, learning unfamiliar jargon, attempting to understand potential cul
tural differences prior to visiting a new place, turning off smartphone notifications, or simp
ly using noisecanceling headphones can assist in managing noise. Though we cannot fully eliminate noise
from our interactions, knowing that noise can affect our communication can help us anticip
ate and deal with it.
The transaction model acknowledges that communication does not take place in a vacuum;
rather, a simple shift in where or when an interaction takes place can significantly alter it. A
s defined earlier in the chapter, context is the circumstance in which an interaction occurs,
and it surrounds and infuses the interaction and affects the communicatorsâ€™ messages. A nu
mber of contextual aspectsâ€”
including time, place, environment, the psychological dimension of each communicator, an
d cultureâ€”can play an integral role in shaping or changing the messages being shared.
Together, these elements combine to illustrate the process of communication as depicted b
y the transaction model of communication. For example, Kim and Pat are both senders and
receivers in their interaction. Their messages are the things they say both verbally and non
verbally to each other, and they used both mediated (email, text messages, and calls) and face-toface channels to communicate these messages. When Kim said to Pat, â€œFine, whatever,â€ she
is providing him with feedback that indicates she is not being considerate of or taking serio
usly the message Pat has sent. There could be multiple types of noise present, including phy
sical noise in the form of distractions at work and while on the road and even psychological
noise as both Kim and Pat became more angry and frustrated. Finally, the context could inv
olve the time of dayâ€”that it was close to dinnertimeâ€”
and how each felt about the other and the relationship they share. The transaction model th
us is useful because it not only describes each of these elements but helps us identify the ro
le of each element in a given interaction
Bevan, J. L. (2020). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication (3rd
ed.). Retrieved from https://content.uagc.edu/
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