When we talk about “Elements of Communication” (or the “Communication Package), we refer to the kind of language knowledge (or skills) which a potential communicator ought to have – what he/she should know in the language in which he/she communicates – before he/she aspires to communicate or in order for him/her to communicate effectively. We are suggesting here that if a potential communicator does not have adequate vocabulary (or an adequate stock of words), or he/she cannot efficiently and competently put words into sentences, or cannot spell words, or cannot punctuate his/her writing with confidence, or cannot command ability to use significant skills in other functions of the language, then, he/she cannot communicate effectively.
As you study this unit, you should pay attention to the very many elements or aspects of the English Language which we ought to be able to handle in order that we can communicate efficiently with other people. Of course, the extent to which we need to understand the communication package depends on the degree to which we have to communicate professionally and socially.
The Elements of Communication
The Elements of Communication are the topics, activities, skills or components of knowledge (as may be appropriate in each particular context) which make up communication as a total function in an organisation. They may also be referred to as the Communication Package. They are very numerous.
All these methods employ, or function in addition to, numerous media, e.g., personal contact – individual and group – in the Conference such as the Presentation, the Group Meeting; the Speech); Visual Media – in Dynamic Visual Media (Random), e.g., Memos; Orders and Forms; Letters; Bulletins; Newsletters; Company Publications (internal and external); Static Visual Media, e.g., Handbooks, Manuals, Casual Publications; Information Racks; Posters; Reports; Annual Reports; Aural Media, e.g., in Telephones and Intercoms; Speaker Systems, Records and Recordings; Visual-Aural Media, e.g., Slide Films; Motion Pictures; Television; Exhibits and Displays; Open-House Programmes; Measurement Media, e.g., Opinion and Attitude Surveys (personal); Mail Surveys.
The chart suggests that, to communicate effectively, we need tools of communication. These tools (or skills), as said in Unit 2 of this module, are broadly divisible into two categories, namely, Extrinsic Skills (which, particularly in written communication, account for the layout or visual presentation of the communication) and Intrinsic Skills (which refer more strictly to the presentation inputs into communication that are directly controlled by the communicator). The intrinsic skills are, themselves, divisible into Mechanical (or Rote) elements and Cognitive (or Language) elements, i.e., knowledge-based elements. These cognitive elements are made up of Vocabulary; Grammar and Syntax; Paragraphing in Continuous Writing; Punctuation and Spelling.
The tools link up with Methods of Organisational Communication. We are suggesting here that communication personnel in an organisation must be (or must have become) competent in the use of communication tools before they can (or in order for them to be able to) think of, select and implement the organisation’s mix of communication methods. These methods revolve (as demonstrated in Unit 3) – in varying degrees of purity, adaptation or adulteration, directness or indirectness, formality or informality and totality or partiality – around systems known as Hierarchical Communication, Briefing Groups, Joint Consultations, House Journals and Surveys and the Grapevine (popular rumour). These systems employ (or are supplemented with) the long list of practices in the diagram (e.g., personal contact, which is the direct mode of application of Briefing Groups and Joint Consultations).
The chart next outlines the more familiar forms of practical communication, viz., oral communication at work scenes; Reporting; Memoranda (in their full forms), as well as in their note forms, the latter called Minutes (which are popularly used for internal communication in offices), as well as Communiqués, Letters, E-mail and the Fax. We are not suggesting here that the methods of organisational communication are first acquired by communication functionaries before the familiar communication forms are developed, or that the methods are first applied by organisations before the familiar forms of communication are applied. Rather, we are simply indicating that the familiar communication practices form part of the total communication package. It should be noted that, like the long list of practices which supplement (or provide channels for use of) the methods of organisational communication, the familiar forms of communication are also channels or media by which the organisational communication methods are put into effect. It should be readily seen that the letter or the report is an obvious medium for the implementation of the hierarchical system of communication.
The Report itself is divided into two categories: the Periodic or Control (used for routine or administrative monitoring of performance at fixed intervals), and Special (which are prepared on individual activities, events, projects, undertakings or periods).
The Factors of Communication are deliberately placed at the base of the scheme. They are parameters or criteria which create the conditions for effectiveness of communication. So, they are conditions which the communicator must meet – where they apply to him/her or provide for where they relate to other elements of his communication, such as subject-matter, method or recipients. The factors were originally conceived by Adair (1973:24), who encompassed them in a diagram which he called “The Communication Star”. His scheme actually contained six elements: Communicator; Communicant; Content; Methods; Situation, and Aim, but the scheme is being modified here with the inclusion of two additional factors, namely, Receiver and Organisation. The factors define the broad environment within which communication can be expected to be effective.