What Is Communication?

The word communicate is often used in conversation, for example, ‘she or he is a great communicator’ or ‘we just can’t communicate’. When I hear this, I often wonder what people mean; after all, it’s impossible to not communicate and we all communicate all the time. Usually, when we talk about someone being a good communicator, we mean that they have good communication skills and use them effectively. When people say that they are not communicating, they usually mean that they are not communicating effectively or are not feeling comfortable about their interaction with someone.
The word communication can be broadly defined as the sending or receiving of messages containing meaning. The message usually contains thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings and information. Communication can be verbal (spoken), written or non-verbal (body language). Interpersonal refers to an interaction between two people or between people in a small group.
We can then join these two definitions together and define interpersonal communication as being verbal and/or non-verbal interaction between two people or in a small group, which involves sending and receiving messages with meaning.
We communicate to satisfy needs within us, such as physical, social and emotional needs. This is evident even in a young baby. Babies may not be able to say what they need but they are certainly still communicating with their parents or carers through crying, other sounds, gestures and facial expressions. The responses they get help in the formation of their identity.
We decide who we are, based on how others react to us and how we react to them. Human beings are basically social animals and communicating satisfies various social needs such as pleasure, affection and inclusion. Communicating also ensures that those needs that are essential to our survival (such as for food and drink) are met.
The fact that we begin communicating from the time we are born does not mean that we don’t need training in how...