“Two monologues do not make a dialogue” – Jeff Daly
The goal of this brief paper is to provide a definition of human communication. Human communication is a complex term. Therefore, we will attempt to analyze it (i.e. take it apart and look at each of its parts separately, namely “human” and “communication”). Then, we will synthesize our findings to arrive at a meaningful yet concise definition of human communication.
Merriam-Webster provides the following definitions of the word “human” (Merriam-Webster, 2016): “(1) Of, relating to, or characteristic of humans; (2) consisting of humans; (3) having human form or attributes; (4) susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature;
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “communication” is defined as the following (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2016): “(1) The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior; (2) interpersonal rapport; the art and technique of using words effectively to impart information or ideas; (3) the field of study concerned with the transmission of information by various means, such as print or broadcasting; (4) any of various professions involved with the transmission of information, such as advertising, broadcasting, or journalism; (5) a system, such as mail, telephone, or television, for sending and receiving messages; (6) a network of routes for sending messages and transporting troops and supplies.
Employing these definitions as a point of departure, it can be observed that human communication involves a process. This process is related to humans And it involves an exchange. Therefore, this process can only occur between more than one person.
Now, let’s contemplate the object of the exchange in this process. The object in this exchange is the message. The transfer of a message involves persuasion. According to Aristotle, “the prime goal of communication is persuasion” (Slideshare.com, 2014). Consequently, one could establish that all human communication involves persuasion in one way or another, even when we simply convey information, as all information conveyed has an embedded objective.
Human communication is also a paradox. Human communication can occur in numerous formats and across various media. One can shout, whisper, wave with a hand, text a message, write an e-mail, or send a letter. However, absence of human communication can also be representative of human communication. Just think of last time you texted a girl you met at a last night’s party, and didn’t hear back from. Surely, you got the message.
It can also be derived that human communication is susceptible to cultural, emotional and intellectual sympathies and frailties of human nature. The process of human communication is not a precise science, it is an art. The message can be disguised, confusing, misleading or an outright lie. The process of human communication can involve verbal or non-verbal attributes, or both at the same time. Sometimes, verbal and non-verbal attributes could be sending different messages. That is called receiving mixed signals. Therefore, it is important to stress that human communication, while it is a process, it is not a linear one. It is rather intermittent, and complex phenomenon.
It is also important to note that human communication is an evolving, ever changing and dynamic process (Berlo, 1960). Invention of Internet and changed the way we communicate in the XXI century. Language, an essential component of human communication, is also in continuous change. Consider the language employed during Shakespeare time – “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?”. We don’t talk like that today. Today, we commonly use new words like googling, fam, facebookversary, and lol.
To synthesize, human communication is a dynamic, complex, and ever evolving process engaged by humans in order to exchange information within a particular context that integrates human variables (namely culture, emotion, and intellect) with the primary purpose of persuasion via one or many sets of methods and media (namely verbal, non-verbal, text, print, ads, art etc.).
Berlo, D. (1960). The Process of Communication.
Merriam-Webster. (2016, August 30). Definition of Human.
Slideshare.com. (2014, November 19). David Berlo’s Model of Communication.
The American Heritage Dictionary. (2016, August 30). Communication Defined.