The word ‘communication’ is derived from the Latin word ‘communis’, which means `common.’ Individuals involved in communication by this definition, attempt to ensure a common basis for understanding the message that is communicated between them.
According to the American Society of Training Directors, a good communication is ‘the interchange of thought or information to bring about mutual understanding and confidence or good human relations’.
Mary Ellen Guffey defines communication as ‘the transmission of information and meaning from one individual or one group to another.’
Communication is not only limited to the art of speaking or writing, but also covers body language, personal manners and the way and style these are exhibited.
In effect, communication is anything that can make a message much more meaningful to the one being communicated with. Communication is a two-way process and is not complete without feedback.
Feedback ensures that communication is much more effective because it also confirms receipt and adequate understanding of the intended message.
Different Viewpoints/Perspectives of Communication
Communication, like many other disciplines, has received attention and contributions from many writers, both in academic and in professional circles.
The most critical factor, however, is how such contributions could be used in solving organisational communication difficulties.
Consideration of the different perspectives of communication would enhance developmental skills required by persons involved in the communication process in their bid to overcome the challenges posed by communication at various levels.
In this section, the various viewpoints and/or perspectives of communication as presented by various writers are discussed. These viewpoints or perspectives include the `modern`, `interpretive`, `critical`, and `post-modern`.
Modern science-based framework focuses on objective measurement and decision-making based on traditional calculations and progress towards an improved and more general understanding of real world phenomena.
The modern perspective on communication assumes fundamentally, that lawyers including paralegals and other superiors engaged in work place for instance, must have some level of control in order that they are able to intervene as and when necessary.
The modern perspective of communication has tended to see organisations as more complex phenomena that cannot be fully understood using the tools of natural science.
This obviously requires that for the communication process to be effective, those involved in the process must show clear appreciation of this perspective implication.
The interpretive perspective of communication tends to be less concerned with generalised theory, but aims at revealing the complexity and richness of communication.
It has been established that interpretive perspective of communication has some linkage to the ethnographic tradition in anthropology.
An application of ethnographic studies to communication, therefore, will imply that methods researchers must spend lengthy periods in the field of communication using qualitative research like observation to record conversations, stories, rituals and other activities bothering on communication especially in offices, assembly plants and in informal relationships.
In such circumstances, such information may be interpreted in the form of detailed narratives. What must be noted however is that researchers in the field of interpretive communication are barred from imposing their own interpretation, since this is likely to distort the whole process of communication.
This perspective helps paralegals to know how to interpret the minds of the clients rightly and find a way to handle them successfully.
The idea behind the critical perspective is linked with the ways that communication channels are used to exercise power over employees in an organisation.
Research information on methods found in the modern and interpretive perspectives are also relevant to the critical perspective of communication.
The critical perspective, however, uses a more skeptical approach and this means a certain degree of critique of the manner in which communication evolves, especially in relation to manner of use of power relating to communication in organisations.
In this case, paralegals will understand the power the organizations they are working with have over them and this will make them to be adjustable on the job.
The postmodern perspective normally challenges the assumptions of the modern perspective, for example, the way and manner in which research is used in the evolution of theory of communication science.
The main focus of the postmodern view is that there is no neutral access to the world, as portrayed by the modernist. Communication, it is believed, may be influenced by variables such as language, globalisation and contemporary trends such as the internet.
The implication of this is that it is possible to make an objective, generalised or unified statement about communication.
Goals of Communication
Communication has been described as a very vital tool in the process of managing. It is a daily occurrence at the workplace and in our daily lives. Broadly speaking, the four major goals of communication are as follows:
- It improves recipient`s level of understanding.
- It elicits receiver`s response.
- It creates good relations.
- It creates organisational goodwill.
Communication improves recipient`s level of understanding of the message communicated.
When the sender sends a message, it is obvious that the receiver understands what meaning the message is intended to convey.
What is not clear, however, is whether the receiver would understand the message as the sender intends it to be. The expected receiver`s understanding of a message is the most critical goal or objective of the communication process.
A message that is unable to elicit the appropriate receiver`s understanding may be ambiguous because it could be interpreted anyhow by various parties if they were the recipients.
As a paralegal, it is important to use the language in such a way that your client will understand you.
It elicits Receiver`s Response.
Once a message is received, the receiver will respond by one of several actions, depending on his (that is, receiver`s) understanding of the message.
In direct conversation, the receiver has the benefit of seeking clarification on the import of the message and the sender could also take advantage of the face-to-face interaction to explain any ambiguities in his message.
In written communication, however, this is not possible and the message may thus elicit varying interpretations, based on receiver`s understanding.
For instance, the receiver may write to the sender of his or her intention to attend or not to attend his or her invitation to a ceremony. The receiver may also attend without giving notice to the sender.
Yet another possible reaction could be that the receiver may not attend without notifying the sender. A message that does not elicit the right response obviously does not achieve its aim.
The paralegal should, therefore, encourage response from his or her clients if the message is worded in a way as to elicit the single most appropriate and desired response.
It creates good relations.
Another goal of communication is the creation of good relations between the parties. The sender of a message must ensure that the content of the message does not cause strains in relations.
Primary responsibility for creating and maintaining good relations would be assumed by the sender and this can be done by ensuring that the wording of the message looks good, positive and encouraging.
Composing messages whose contents stress the interests of the receiver is critical. Therefore, the message of a paralegal should be well versed, good, positive and encouraging so that the clients will be adequate and fell loved.
It creates organisational goodwill.
Goodwill is a critical success factor in business and communication that must be used to enhance the creation of organisation goodwill.
The goodwill of all stakeholders that the organisation deals with such as clients, suppliers, customers, governments , communities, etc., is necessary for the continued successful operation of business.
Similarly, when individuals communicate, the receiver of the message must enjoy his or her confidence and trust as this is likely to facilitate receiver`s appreciation and response. A paralegal must maintain a very good relationship with his or her business partner