Human Communication

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Human Communication

Human communication is a complex but interesting area of study. Clearly define the term ���human communication’. Then, explain why communication can break down and why it succeeds. Consider the impact the electronic age has had on communication between people, and give your opinion on what it is like to communicate in a language that is not your mother tongue.

The assignment must be between 2000 and 1,500 words. For this assignment you must consider the following points:

• The assignment style requirements (double spacing, margins, title, headers/footers etc)

• The introduction- Have you got some background information?
Does the thesis statement clearly state the main idea for the whole essay? Is your preview an accurate guideline to the contents of the body paragraphs (with the subjects listed)?

• The body- does each paragraph have a topic sentence with a subject and controlling idea?
• Does the paragraph begin with an explanation/definition of the subject or controlling idea, and is this supported by quotations?
• Do you go onto include and focus on the importance of the controlling idea and give sufficient explanation and supporting detail?
Have you included sufficient facts, examples and quotations and are they referenced in APA
Have you included your own personal opinion and is it sufficiently backed up?
Is there unity and coherence within and between the paragraphs?
Does each paragraph finish with a concluding sentence that is an accurate reflection of the topic one?

• The conclusion- Does it have the concluding phrase? Does it summarise the main points? Have you given your final thoughts on the subject of your essay?

• Your grammar construction, punctuation, sentence structure

• A complete Reference section at the end of the assignment with correct APA style referencing. You may use online or paper resources for this assignment, but you should ensure that you use a mix of paper and on-line resources.

• You are reminded to be careful with your in-text referencing. You should review your notes on pages 47-56 of the Course Notes to note how to direct and indirect quote appropriately. You are reminded that assignments will be run through the plagiarism detection device Turnitin® and you should ensure that you cite in-text quotations carefully to denote where you have directly quoted or paraphrased and summarised material.

Detailed instructions on the first assignment topic:

Human communication is a complex but interesting area of study. Clearly define the term ���human communication’. Then, explain why communication can break down and why it succeeds. Consider the impact the electronic age has had on communication between people, and give your opinion on what it is like to communicate in a language that is not your mother tongue.

For this assignment, you should consider general and definition as part of the background in the introduction. It is the place where you can give the definition of ���human communication’.

This is a lengthy title, there are 3 main parts to it so you will have to consider doing separate thesis/previews for each part. The title also asks for personal opinion to be used, so you will have to think about your grammar and the changes you make from the 3rd to the 1st person when you are laying out your ideas.

Please note the order of the title. You have to explain first why communication can break down, followed by explaining how communication succeeds. You then have to consider the impact the electronic age has had on communication in general. These are general paragraphs and there should be no personal opinion included in them.

Finally, you have to consider how communicating in English makes you feel. Your opinion could be either positive or negative, and this is the paragraph where you will be bringing in personal opinion. So the first part of the assignment is general, and the second part is personal/general information mixed together.

As this assignment is between 2000-1,500 words, I would expect to see at least 4 body paragraphs.
When you discuss your personal opinion, it should include information and appropriate examples from your life. However, (and this is what is difficult), you must ensure that these paragraphs are well supported with either direct or indirect quotations and correctly APA referenced in the text.

You must clearly detail your opinions and although these are opinion paragraphs, you should make an effort to do research and find some relevant examples and quotations to back up what you are saying.
Ensure that your reference list only relates to the material that is cited in your assignment and that it is in the correct APA format.


Name of student:

Course name:

Class name:

Date assignment due:


Introduction. 3

Why communication can break down. 4

How communication succeeds. 6

Impact of the electronic age on communication. 8

How communicating in English makes me feel 10

References. 11


Human communication is interesting by complex areas of study. People communicate on a daily basis in order to deal with life’s everyday challenges and problems. On the other hand, human communication is also about expressing feelings, attitudes, and identity. A language is a key tool for human communication. Today, there are many channels through which communication can take place. The electronic age provides us with almost limitless platforms of meeting our communication needs. Whereas the medium through which human communication takes place may change, the principles that underlie efficiency in communication do not. This assignment will consider the four main points, which included why communication between people does work and does not work, the positive impact of electronic age on communication and my opinion on what its like to communicate full time in English. 


Heath & Bryant (2000) define human communication as a field of study that is dedicated to the understanding of how people communicate’. Heath & Bryant add that communication begins when a sender encodes a message. Then he passes it through some channel to an intended receiver who decodes. There are many aspects of human communication. These aspects include intrapersonal communication, body expression, interpersonal communication, group dynamics, organizational communication, and cross-cultural communication. Today, communication processes have remarkably improved thanks to the benefit of the electronic age. All the communication efforts that people make at human communication can succeed or fail; it all depends on many factors, some of which are contributed to by the participants, others which are contributed to by third parties or the environment.

Why communication can break down

Whenever communication breaks down, it means that there are some barriers that are interfering with the process of encoding and decoding messages. When some form of disturbance blocks any step in the communication process, the message gets destroyed. When the message gets destroyed or distorted, the communication breakdown is said to have taken place.

Whenever there is a misunderstanding about culture, human communication can break down. Perceptual and language differences can cause the breakdown of human communication (Ruesch, 2008). Perception entails the manner in which every individual interprets his environment or the world around him. Everyone wants to receive messages that are of significance to them. Messages that are perceived to go against their (cultural) values are rejected. The same event can be interpreted differently by two individuals, depending on its significance to each of them and the way they understand it. Whenever there are differences in the understanding of a message, communication breaks down.

            Linguistic differences can also contribute to the breakdown of communication. For instance, the same word can be interpreted as having a different meaning to different people. Additionally, words whose meaning the participants understand may even be used either connotatively or denotatively (Heath & Bryant, 2000). People also tend to attach new meanings to familiar to convey special messages based on unique experiences shared by the participants. In such contexts, one of the participants may fail to encode or decode the information in the right way, leading to a breakdown of communication. 

Moreover, misunderstandings about a language or accent can also cause a communication breakdown. People who are not conversant with the local accent may misunderstand it. Likewise, when people do not understand the vocabulary of a language well, they become inefficient communicators. Different varieties of a language may attach different meanings to the same lexical items. This may create problems for people who want to communicate using the different varieties of the language.


            At certain times, noise and distraction can cause a human communication breakdown. The source of noise or distraction may be the participants themselves or the environment. Physical distractions in a meeting may be in the form of uncomfortable sitting or standing, poor lighting or very loudspeakers. In a telephone conversation, poor voice quality, background noise, and inaudible voice, all constitute different forms of noise/distraction that interrupts the communication process.

            Other causes of communication breakdown include information overload, inattention, time pressures, and poor retention. Whenever someone is surrounded by a pool of crucial information, he has to devise a way of controlling the manner in which it flows (Kim, 2002). Proper control giving every bit of information the attention and emphasis that it deserves. Whenever such a form of control is not there, some information can easily be misinterpreted, forgotten or overlooked. When this happens, the resulting effectiveness becomes injurious to the communication process.

            Inattention is one of the most dramatic ways through which communication breaks down. The environment is always full of stimuli. All human beings need to do is pay attention to the intended impulse in order to decipher the right meaning. When people refuse to listen to a speaker during a meeting, no communication can take place. Additionally, when a manager is so engrossed in his paperwork that he does not listen to an employee, the employee may be very disappointed since his message cannot be decoded in such an environment.

Time pressures constitute a very significant cause of information breakdown. When people have so many things to achieve within a short time, they may not pay enough attention to every instance of communication. Some important bits of information may be decoded wrongly while others may go unnoticed. Yet others may be ignored and emphasis put on only those that are of short-term significance.

How communication succeeds

There are many things that people can do in order to facilitate success in is important for both the speaker and the listener to acquire some listening skills. The world is full of opportunities for people to improve their listening skills. For example, it is important for one to learn to listen attentively to people who talk in the TV or in a meeting. One should try as much as possible to pay attention to the theme of the TV or meeting speech. 

Human communication succeeds mainly because of the presence of mutual awareness. When both participants are aware of the context of communication, it is highly unlikely that the information will be misinterpreted. Mutual awareness may mean the understanding of all the events preceding and following after the communication. It may also entail knowledge of the impact of the message in the participants’ job performance, relationship, or success in life (Gudykunst& Nishida, 2001).

            Mutual awareness requires that all the participants understand the potential distractions that may break down the communication process. Meanwhile, understanding the threat of noise and distraction is not enough; both participants must express a willingness to avoid these distractions. Failure to show interest in eliminating distractions by either may be construed by the other party as a way of bringing about failure in the communication process.

            Additionally, sensory modalities should be properly understood. While all senses play a crucial role, the most salient modalities or completing our understanding of human communication include visual, kinesthetic and auditory. Some people are better at using one modality instead of many. In this case, such people may be better at picking auditory rather than visual cues. Yet others are multi-modal, in that they exhibit strength in more many modalities. In other words, all human being do not have a uniform level of ability to encode and decode information. This understanding is part of what it means for participants to have a shared awareness.

            Reception of stimuli such as sound, heat, light, or cold triggers the communication. However, the stimuli have to be coded in order to be of significance to the communication process. Coding refers to a one-to-one correspondence between a certain part of the physical stimuli and some aspects of the human nervous system. For purposes of elaborating on human communication in a nontechnical way, only the evidence of encoding is worth discussing. The evidence of encoding is the one that determines whether one perceives illusions or a phenomenon that really exists.

            In order to overcome illusions, one should take time to understand the message objectively. However, there are many factors to be considered during the interpretation process of this message. For instance, the importance that is attached to the message determines the amount of time that a manager assigns it. In situations where there is information overload, the best way out is to create a continuum of priorities, where the messages are ordered according to relevance, timeliness, and complexity. The ability to in organizing such messages in the best manner is what differentiates the best managers from the rest.

            In order to communicate effectively, people must also learn to approach the human communication process from an artistic point of view. The sender of the message should know how best to attract the attention of the receiver. He must also know how to manage all those distractions that cannot be completely eliminated. In other words, the level of mutual awareness should be artistically improved as much as possible.

Impact of the electronic age on communication

            The electronic age has provided man with many ways of sharing information. Information technology developments make it possible for the information to be shared in many forms: audio, visual, audio-visual, symbolic and animated form. Additionally, the dimension of speed and convenience is also significant; people can exchange large amounts of information through real-time virtual systems that are highly efficient. However, the availability of information per se does not make human beings better communicators; it merely creates opportunities for communication across all horizons.

            According to Kwana (2007), the electronic age has changed the way in which people communicate. This is evident in the way many people have become reliant on email, mobile phones, instant messaging other technology-dependent forms of communication. Technology has brought about new platforms through which human beings can communicate. For instance, a CEO of a Japan-based construction company can communicate ‘face-to-face’ with his employees even when he is on a business trip to the United States, using video conferencing technology. This is one of the ways in which today’s technology improves communication across geographical boundaries (Hiltz, 2006). Internet technology makes people feel as if they are in a global village.

Although the electronic age comes with many prospects for efficiency in communication, it also brings new challenges, barriers, and complexities. People who use the Internet to communicate have a very short attention span. They may, therefore, miss some important cues communicated through chat messages, emails or animations. In order to maintain the fast pace of information reception, processing, and transmission, Internet cues tend to be transient and fast-changing. Words are shortened, letters are chosen to represent words in chat messages, and verbal cues are transformed into written signs.

Moreover, many new techniques of communication continue to be generated in order to keep pace with the speed of online communication. The problem with this type of communication is that it is very easy to pay a lot of time to unnecessary communication. Today, many people spend many hours sorting mails, chatting with friends, watching videos sent by friends and sharing last weekend’s experiences with old friends. The sheer convenience that is given to communication in the electronic age turns out to be a source of new challenges.

How communicating in English makes me feel

Whenever I am communicating with people with whom I share a dialect, social background, status, experiences, and aspirations, I always find it easy to encode the message. I also find it difficult to overcome various barriers to communication. This is largely because they tend to understand the environment in which I am and the efforts that I am making in order to make the communication process a successful one.

Sometimes my English dialect may be perceived negatively by people who speak other dialects of the language. They may claim that my dialect lacks status, and this disappoints me especially if I was in the middle of explaining something important. According to Haugen (1966), many ambiguities exist with regard to the definition of the terms ‘language’ and ‘dialect’. Haugen adds that the relationship between the two may be either linguistic or social. Since language is the most fundamental tool of human communication, it becomes difficult to divorce any communication process from a certain social context. For me, the social context in which I speak English provides an environment that largely determines the way in which my messages are decoded.

In conclusion, it is important for the concept of human communication to be properly understood in order for people to become good communicators. Every individual encodes and decodes messages according to his unique circumstances as defined by his environment. Both the sender and receiver of human messages should understand each other’s circumstances in order to create mutual awareness. In today’s electronic age, people need to understand how to differentiate between necessary and unnecessary communication. This will lead to the efficient use of technology in building communication networks in different social settings.


Gudykunst, W. &Nishida,T. (2001) Anxiety, uncertainty, and perceived effectiveness of communication across relationships and cultures, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 25(1), 55-71

Haugen, E.  (1966) Dialect, Language, Nation, American Anthropologist, New Series, 68(4) 922-935

Heath, R. & Bryant, J. (2000) Human Communication Theory and Research: Concepts, Contexts, and Challenges, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hiltz, S. (2006) Experiments in Group Decision Making Communication Process and Outcome in Face-to-Face Versus Computerized Conferences, Human Communication Research, 13(2) 225 – 252.

Kim, M. (2002) Non-western perspectives on human communication: implications for theory and practice, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

Kwana, M. (2007) Mobile Communications, Social Networks, and Urban Travel: Hypertext as a New Metaphor for Conceptualizing Spatial Interaction, The Professional Geographer, 59(4), 434 – 446.

Ruesch, J. (2008) Principles of Human Communication, Dialectica, 11(1-2), 154 – 166.

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