Guide: Using communication theory

Is there a science behind the art of communicating well?

Our new guide to using communication theory, available as a free download for registered members, addresses the science and the art of communication.

The guide reviews transmission theories - based on the sender-message-channel-receiver model - which originated with the telephone networks of the twentieth century.

These are workable, but lead to the assumption that sending messages amounts to communicating. Who among us has not fallen into this trap?

Transmission theories have little to say about the receiver. Do they want to hear from you; do they understand what you're saying; in short, what's in it for them?

As the guide's author Kevin Ruck writes: 'exchanging information is just that, though in itself this does not necessarily equate to understanding.'

So to understand the whole process of communication we need an understanding of psychology.

Based on a chapter in Kevin Ruck's Exploring Internal Communication, this guide reviews theories drawn from mass communication and psychology that can provide insight into the communication process.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), drawing on insights from Carl Jung, is a well-established framework for understanding different personality types.

How about gender as a factor in communication? We all know that women invest more in communication and relationships, and men take a more transactional view. It's a picture presented in the bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus.

What if this isn't true? Kevin Ruck presents evidence from a meta study of academic papers about gender differences which showed that the difference made by gender is 'close to zero'.

This brings us to another big challenge faced by communicators. Since everyone communicates, what is there to set the professional communicator apart?

One answer to this is a greater understanding of models and theories along with evidence and experience of what works best with different people, in different circumstances.

That's why there's such a thirst for knowledge shown by those on the CIPR Professional PR Diploma and the Internal Communications Specialist Diploma.

Whether you're a student or a practitioner, there's something for you to learn in our guide.

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About the author

Richard Bailey

Richard Bailey is editor of PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

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