Communication

  • Understand the complexities inherent in communication situations so you can better navigate writing tasks.

Communication involves an exchange of information, data between a sender and receiver. Communication is a complex, psychosocial, organic, psychosocial, rhetorical,, recursive, subjective process.

Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . communicate via semiotic systems, including body language, alphabetical language, mathematical equations, musical notes, computer codes.

Related Concepts: Code Switching; Communication Studies; Composing; Composing Processes; Professional & Technical Communication; Register


Communication is a complex, organic, rhetorical, , recursive process.

Communication is a complex process:

To inform, entertain, or persuade,

Communication is a subjective process

The act of interpretation is deeply subjective. The associations people make with words, ideas, stories are invariably subjective. People don’t always share the same interpretations regarding what their words, their texts, mean to others. For instance, imagine your doctor tells you that you need minor surgery. Well, for you the upcoming medical procedure may be anything but minor!

[ Semiotics: Sign, Signifier, Signified ]

Developmental psychologists, since Vygotsky, have theorized that during childhood language goes underground: words become abbreviated, distilled, until all that is left is the gist of the word, a feeling, a felt sense.

Communication is an organic process:

  • Thinking, creating, and learning involves the body as well as the mind.

Communication is a social, rhetorical process

Communication is a social system: it presumes a rhetorical context, a sender and a receiver.

Communication is a recursive process:

When writing, people re-read and reconsider what they’ve written. They go back and look at words and phrases and that behavior inspires new ideas.

The process of developing and sharing knowledge claims cannot be simplified into a simple formula such as prewrite, write, revise and edit. Writing, thinking, and learning involves are cyclical. Rather than one ideal composing process that occurs in organized stages, writing is a chaotic process characterized by engaged, sustained, reflective thinking. 

[ Composing | Composing Processes | Revision ]

Communication is a rhetorical process

Communication takes place in a context. That context, that rhetorical situation, has an impact on what gets communicated and how it gets communicated. Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . cannot stand outside of time: they are there in a moment and they have to reason their way out of it.

Communication is a psychosocial process:

The process of communication is psychosocial: it involves a blending of the psyche of the writer with that writer’s literacy history, and the writer’s broader society, the social links that as

The psychology of the writer, in response to some exigency.

. As we discuss at Genre, the rhetor communicates with an audience by engaging in a intersubjective space with her audience.

Here, the term intersubjective refers to what the rhetors and readers/listeners share in common. For instance, writers and readers may share an emotional response to a topic. They may share a common sense of how formal the language should be, whether citations should be used, whether anecdote is valued. Language, jargon, rituals, histories, instincts, desires, personalities, attitudes, knowledge of foundational texts–these are just a handful of the variables rhetors share with their audience in this intersubjective space.

When writers communicate with one another, they share assumptions about how language is used to convey information. They share common organizational patterns, motifs, rhetorical modes, invention methods, information literacy standards, research methods, revising strategies, and style, or editing standards.

Related Concepts