The ability to communicate is probably the most precious gift giving to man by the creator afterlife itself. Of course, human beings are not the only creatures with the ability to communicate. Although governed more by instinct, animals also have some remarkable forms of communication, which include a variety of sounds such as the ritual of shooting at each other, incredible though it may seem, botanists have proved beyond doubts that plants not only communicate with one another, but they engage in it with certain animals and insects. It would be rewarding if we have a deeper understanding of communication skills, the rudiments of which we already possess, with a view to improving on them and applying our knowledge in a manner that will rub off positively on our private lives and professional practice.
The aim of this chapter is to enable you to have a look at what we already know in a more systematic and practical way. We do not intend to attempt a reinvention of the wheel or saddle the student unduly with communication jargon, but it is our view that knowledge of communication basics will help budding professional to function better in their chosen field be it business studies, electrical engineering or animal and fish production. A sound theoretical basis is a communication exposes students to the key elements of human communication and ultimately makes them better communicators.
The concept of communication
Communication permeates the whole of life; hence it is vital to the web of life. The life of man would have been meaningless without communication because there is always a need to interact with ambition. No one is an island; no one can do everything by himself. Though man can think by himself, he realizes he has to impress others with his thoughts. Thus, the pre-eminence of communication in the life of man cannot be overemphasized.
There are certain conditions which must be met before communication between two parties can take off. The two parties must have a reference point otherwise known as antecedence, also with the same code. The code here implies a symbol of agreement or explication of a referent. They must also have the same understanding of the matter at hand. There should be no discrepancy in their level of understanding or familiarity with the matter of discourse. The right atmosphere must also be there for the necessity of starting off a discourse. All these conditions must be present to have effective communication.
An attempt to define communication a single way can be daunting most especially as the concept is already an everyday word. We often talk of communication or lack of it in relationships such as marriage and other family bonds or relationship. Effective communication is the secret key to enduring human relationships and the successful attainment of organizational goals.
Communication is about information and transmission; it could be shared or concealed, direct or indirect, clear or coded, favorable or unfavorable, true or false, private or public.
The complex nature of communication makes it difficult to give a single definition, because it may either be too narrow or too broad. To communicate, according to Cambridge international dictionary or English, is to give successfully (thoughts, feelings, ideas or information) to others through speech, writing, body movements or signals, this dictionary implies that other methods other than speech can feature in an act of communication. This notion is reiterated by Bangs (1968) as follows.
Communication in its broadest meaning is the act or acts, which produce some kind of response between two or more persons. It takes place through a system or arbitrary sign; oral language; written language; everyday gesture such as beckoning; elaborate sign language (developed for persons with severe hearing impairment); morse code; Balinese dancing); and flag signals, to name but are few.
Shannon and Weaver (1977) imply the impressionist nature of communication by defining it as all the procedures by which one mind may affect another. They further reinforce the multi-system texture of communication: this, of course, involves not only written and oral speech, but also music, the pictorial arts, the theatre, the ballet, and all humans’ behaviors.
Communication, therefore, is the sharing of information between two parties in a manner that elicits the desired response. The sharing or exchange of information is systematically explained