If our communication is to be meaningful, both the sender and receiver must establish the same thought or reference in the words and the signs being used. According to Markham, words and signs vary considerably with regards to their value for communication as they differ in their degree of abstraction. The greater the degree of abstraction, the less meaning or specificity they have.
The effectiveness of our communication is affected via four categories of words, such as objects, events, groups and value judgments. Each human has their perception of what is real to them, and it is the use of these words, and our intended meaning of these words that ultimately determines the level of acceptance of non-acceptance of our message.
These categories are simplified below.
– Labels or objects include words such as chair, table, and car and are specific and are easily recognizable by most people
– Events such as ‘party’ or ‘sale’ might not be so similarly perceived by both the sender and receiver as these can imply both action and time
– Groups or generalizations include such words as furniture, scenery, resources, neighbors or employees. Usually not specific i.e. furniture could mean new tables, old chairs, rocking chairs, dining tables, coffee tables, sofas, beds, rugs, etc.
– Value judgments or ideology words include more descriptive terms such as beautiful, handsome, necessary, valuable, truth and individuals may widely differ in their personal perception of such words. What one person perceives as valuable, may not be in line with another’s view.
In fact, it is the sender of the communication that holds the power to change the result that is produced.
Understand that to communicate effectively and get the results we desire, the sender must determine the purpose of the communication and use appropriate communication elements of words, gestures, voice qualities, physiology and patterns which have a common meaning for both the sender and receiver. That is the art of social dynamics and communication skills in action.