Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
— John Medina, Brain Rules

Communication: the transmission or exchange of information. A conversation. Social contact. (Oxford) A distinct type of interaction between two people. (Wood, 18) The exchange of spoken or written language between people. The process through which people use messages to generate meanings within and across “contexts,”  “cultures,”  “channels,” and “media.” (McCornack, 6, 182)

There are distinct advantages to evolving a language that uses sound as a medium. If you’re talking you don’t have to look at someone, you don’t even have to see him or be seen by him, it could be the dark of night you could be hiding behind a tree, and your hands and body would remain free to do other things. (Kenneally, 60)


Communication Channel: pathway through which messages are conveyed. (Floyd, G1) The medium through which the message is sent. (Bamford, 11/30/10) The five sensory dimensions (sound, sight, touch, scent, taste) used to transmit information during communication. For example, you may apologize by showing someone a sad facial expression, lightly touching his shoulder, and saying, “I’m so sorry.” (McCornack, 7)

Communication Competence: communicating in ways that are effective and appropriate for a given situation. (Floyd, G1)  The ability to communicate consistently in appropriate, effective, and ethical ways. (McCornack, 29) The mastering of the four subsystems of language - "phonology,"  "semantics,"  "grammar," and "pragmatics." (Cardwell, 138) Includes the abilities to monitor oneself, to engage in dual perspective, to enact a range of communication skills, and to adapt communication appropriately. (Wood, 333) The wish and ability to verbally exchange ideas, feelings, and concepts with others. This is related to a sense of "trust" in others and of pleasure in engaging with others, including adults. (Goleman2, 194) Also referred to as ‘interpersonal communication competence’ and ‘linguistic competence.’

Communication Models: elements of communications systems are interdependent, each element is tied to all the other elements. (Wood, 30)

Interactive Communication Model: a context for communicating in which participants can see and/or hear each other and react to each other in real time. (Floyd, G3) A depiction of communication messages that are exchanged back and forth between a sender and a receiver and are influenced by feedback and the fields of experience of both communicators. (McCornack, 10) A model that represents communication as a feedback process, in which listeners and speakers both simultaneously send and receive messages. (Wood, 333)

Linear Communication Model: represents communication as a one-way process that flows in one direction, from sender to receiver. (Wood, 332) A depiction of communication messages that flow in one direction from a starting point to an end point. (McCornack, 9)

Transactional Communication Model: a model of communication as a dynamic process that changes over time and in which participants assume multiple roles. (Wood, 334) A depiction of communication where each participant equally influences the communication behavior of the other participants. For example, a salesperson who watches his customer’s facial expression while describing a product is sending and receiving messages at the same time. (McCornack, 10)

Uncertainty Reduction Theory: a theory suggesting that people are motivated to reduce their uncertainty about others. (Floyd, G6) Explains that the primary compulsion during initial encounters is to reduce uncertainty about our conversational partners by gathering enough information about them so their communication becomes predictable and explainable. (McCornack, 85)

Defensiveness: the tendency to deny the validity of criticisms directed at the self. (Floyd, G2) Perceiving personal attacks, criticisms, or hostile undertones in communication when none are intended. (Wood, 332) A workplace atmosphere that is unfriendly, rigid, or non-supportive. (McCornack, 409)

Interpersonal Communication: communication that occurs between two people within the context of their relationship and that, as it evolves, helps them to negotiate and define their relationship. (Floyd, G4) A dynamic form of communication between two (or more) people in which the messages exchanged significantly influence their thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and relationships. (McCornack, 13) Selective, systemic, ongoing processes in which individuals interact to reflect and build personal knowledge and to create meanings, (Wood, 332)

Media: tools used to exchange messages, including everything from newspapers, blackboards, and photographs to computers, cell phones, and television. (McCornack, 7)

Meta-Communication: communication about communication. (Floyd, G4) Verbal or nonverbal communication about communication—that is, messages that have communication as their central focus. (McCornack, 16) When excessive, as in unproductive conflict interaction, meta-communication becomes self-absorbing and diverts partners from the issues causing conflict. (Wood, 334)

Online Communication: interaction through communication technology such as social-networking sites, e-mail, text or instant messaging, video conferences, chatrooms, multiuser discussions, list servers and other mailing lists. (McCornack, 26)

Flaming: inappropriately aggressive online messages that wouldn’t be conveyed in person. (McCornack, 264)

Online Disinhibition: a tendency to share more personal information openly and directly during online interactions than in person. (McCornack, 264)

Wedging: when a person deliberately uses online communication—messages, photos, and posts—to try to insert him- or herself between romantic partners because he or she is interested in one of the partners. (McCornack, 350)

Receiver: the party who interprets a message. (Floyd, G5) The individual for whom a message is intended or to whom it is delivered. (McCornack, 9)

Sender: the individual who generates, packages, and delivers a message. (McCornack, 9) The (sender) is the person who sends a communication, and the receiver is the person to whom the message is sent. (Bamford, 11/30/10) Also referred to as ‘source.’

Workplace Communication: communication links among an organization’s members, such as the nature, frequency, and ways information is exchanged (McCornack, 406)

Organizational Networks: communication links among an organization’s members, such as the nature, frequency, and ways information is exchanged. For example, you have weekly face-to-face status meetings with your boss or receive daily reminder e-mails from an assistant. (McCornack, 406)

Sexual Harassment: unwelcome sexual advances, physical contact, or requests that render a workplace offensive or intimidating. (McCornack, 430) 

Virtual Networks: groups of coworkers linked solely through e-mail, social-networking sites, or the Internet. (McCornack, 407)

Workplace Abuse: verbal or nonverbal hostility directed at a person at work; it may consist of insults, unreasonable demands, or claims of credit for someone else’s work. (McCornack, 426)

Workplace Cliques: dense networks of coworkers who share common perspectives about life and values in the workplace. (McCornack, 407)