A Closer Look at the Human Communication Processes

Cite this article as: Abba, M.M. (2023). A Closer Look at the Human Communication Processes. Tasambo Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture, (2)2, 67-76. www.doi.org/10.36349/tjllc.2023.v02i02.008.

Mahmoud Abba Misau

Department of Human Resources, Atlantic International University


The study of Human communication is a wide field dedicated to understanding how humans communicate. As the widely accepted adage “We cannot communicate “Shows, Humans' ability to communicate with one another would not be possible without understanding what we are thinking about or what message we want to pass on to one another. Because humans are unable to fully understand one another's perspective, there needs to be a creation of commonality through a shared mindset or viewpoint. The diverse nature of the human communication process has been deeply examined in this write-up to define all aspects of communication for a better understanding, the channels, modes and skills have also been identified.

Keywords: Communication, Human Communication


Communication as a process parades a lot of definitions. But before we look at the various definitions of communication, it is important to trace the origin of the term. The word communication is derived from the Latin word, communicare, which means to share and also from the French word communis meaning common.

Many scholars see communication as an instrument of social interaction and it also helps people to understand themselves, keep in touch and equally get to understand situations. It is a means of acquiring power and sustaining it, it is the medium through which people establish relationships and maintain such relationships over a long period,

Chappel and Read (1984) define communication as any means by which a thought is transferred from one person to another. Communication can also be defined as a means through which ideas and thoughts are passed from one person to another through a medium. It is a process of sharing ideas between individuals, groups, organizations, or countries.

Communication is not just the giving of information, it is the giving of understandable information and receiving and understanding the message, communication is the transferring of a message to another party so that it can be understood and acted upon. Here the emphasis is laid on understanding the message or getting the message clearly without interference. Similarly, communication is seen as a process of sending and receiving information between two parties. That information can be palatable or otherwise, but it is seen to be sent and intended to be received. Human communication processes are of two broad categories, Verbal and Non-verbal Communication.

Communication can further be Intrapersonal Communication, Interpersonal Communication Group Communication and Mass Communication. It is important to note that communication is always passed through a means which is called medium. The medium through which information is passed across is sometimes referred to as a channel of communication, it is either through Rdio, TV, Town Crier or face-to-face.

While people are always eager to receive or send information or messages, especially with the advent of social media like Twitter, Facebook Instagram and other online mediums, it is important to verify sources of information and clearly understand the motives before acting upon such messages.

From the above definitions of communication, we now know that for communication to be effective the must be Sender, Message, Medium and Receiver. Sometimes in this process, there is a possibility of Noise as distortion.

Theoretical framework

Social cognitive theory (SCT), developed by Albert Bandura in 1986, underscores the pivotal role of cognitive processes in shaping human behaviour, with a particular focus on communication. SCT posits that individuals acquire knowledge primarily through observational learning, imitation, and modelling of others’ behaviour, resulting in the internalization of cognitive processes that ultimately yield lasting changes in their behaviour.

In the realm of human communication, SCT asserts that individuals glean communication skills from observing social interactions and modelling their own behaviour after them. This involves assimilating both verbal and nonverbal communication cues, in addition to utilizing cognitive processes such as attention, perception, and interpretation of information to acquire effective communication skills. Through the lens of SCT, an investigation into the communication processes of humans could entail an exploration of how individuals acquire communication skills and the various factors that impact communication behaviours. Such factors may encompass cultural background, gender, personality traits, as well as the development of communication proficiency over time.

Human communication

As discussed in the introduction human communication are of two broad categories, Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication. Verbal Communication is the type of communication that involves the use of sound to pass messages across. This can be from person to person, to group or a variety of audiences.

Non-Verbal Communication is the process of passing information without the use of sound or words this can be between oneself as in thoughts or between individuals using sign language, or body movements

Human communication is as old as man himself, from the time of creation to date human beings communicate to survive. People communicate to understand each other, to help and to generate ideas for survival.

However modern researchers have broken down human communication into two major
categories; rhetorical and relational. The focus of rhetorical communication is
primarily on the study of influence; the art of rhetorical communication is based on
the idea of persuasion. The relational approach examines communication from a
transnational perspective; two or more people coexist to reach an agreed upon
In its early stages, rhetoric was developed to help ordinary people prove their claims
in court; this shows how persuasion is key in this form of communication. Aristotle
exclaimed that effective rhetoric is based on argumentation. As explained in the
text, rhetoric involves a dominant party and a submissive party or a party that
succumbs to that of the most dominant party. While the rhetorical approach stems
from Western societies, the relational approach stems from Eastern societies. Eastern
societies hold higher standards for cooperation which makes sense as to why they
would sway more toward a relational approach for that matter. "Maintaining valued
relationships are generally seen as more important than exerting influence and control
over others" (Stacks & Salwen, 2009, p. 227). "The study of human
communication today is more diversified than ever before in its history" * (Stacks & Salwen, 2009, p. 229). Classification of human communication can be
found in the workplace, especially for group work. Co-workers need to argue with
each other to gain the best solutions for their projects, while they also need to nurture
their relationship to maintain their collaboration.

Type of human communication.

Communication as defined by many scholars refers to the process of transmitting information from one place to another through a medium to get a desired result or action. This process involves the Sender, Message, Medium and Receiver. The sender must encode the message and pass it through a medium to be decoded by the receiver.

 Communication in its broadest sense can be divided into Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication;

Verbal communication is a kind of communication that is done through the use of words It can take place between two or more people.

Non-Verbal Communication is a form of communication which is carried out without speech. it can be through touching, sign, action etc.

Similarly, communication can also be;

Intrapersonal Communication

Interpersonal Communication

Group Communication

Mass Communication.

Intrapersonal communication is the process of transfer of information that takes place within an individual e g, thoughts, and decisions within the self, like going to seat down.

Interpersonal communication, which is also called face-to-face communication. This is the process of exchanging ideas opinions, and information between two persons. In this aspect, the sender shares his ideas or information with the receiver, unlike intrapersonal communication where the communicator keeps his ideas to himself.

Group communication is the process of transmitting information, ideas attitude, values, and beliefs through a communication device to a relatively large, heterogeneous and anonymous audience simultaneously. In mass communication, modern communication equipment is used in putting across the message through channels like radio, television, newspapers magazines etc. Mass communication is unique because its message is usually general and targeted at a very large audience, which is anonymous in nature and heterogenous in composition and posture.

Human beings communicate to achieve a desired result or action, and for any communication to achieve the anticipated result it must be effective. For communication to be effective it must be clear of any distortion and must be without ambiguity. Clarity of the information and the ability of the audience to understand the message is what makes communication effective. Very good communication is one passed to the desired audience in clear and simple language. A very good speaker with the skill of getting the audience is always mindful of his audience, their culture, beliefs education and other social divides.

For any communication to be effective, we have to consider other factors that will reverse the situation. Hence the need to understand the barriers to effective communication. These barriers can include Noise, language, emotion, silence, beliefs, distance, and some other items that can prevent the message from getting across to the desired audience. A great scholar of advertising Prof, Ted Roberts once said “Business without advertising is like winking at a beautiful girl in the dark, ..cos you know what you are doing but nobody else knows” Here silence or not communicating can make your business not in the limelight. Invariably barriers to communication are those things that course distortions or provide a dividing line between the message and the audience, it can be language understanding, emotional attachments to an opposite view etc

Barriers to effective communication can be physical barriers, like distance, poor communication equipment, etc. Also, a lack of proper communication structures in companies can be a barrier to effective communication, that is faulty system design. Attitudes can also be a barrier to effective communication. Similarly, ambiguous words or phrases in our messages make communication to be distorted.

 Intrapersonal communication

Many communication scholars argue that successful communication is one between two persons, however, some view this as inadequate and narrow. They looked at the importance of intrapersonal communication in its real sense. Most of the time an individual passes a message to himself before voicing out. The first step in human communication is the individual’s intention to communicate, then the decision on what to communicate and how to communicate the ideas already formed within himself. This is what is called intrapersonal communication. The dialogue in human mind is the root of all communication. Therefore intrapersonal communication is a very interesting part of any communication process. As people say, think it, idealize it and make the thought physical.

Intrapersonal communication is simply communication within the self and this occurs when an individual thinks within himself. The word ‘intra-personal’ connotes ‘within-individual’, while communication in simple terms is the act of conveying information. Communication is fundamental to human existence and an essential soft skill, this is because all other soft skills are built on the ability to communicate clearly and professionally. Communication is a process with an interplay of elements i.e. sender, message, receiver, decoding message, feedback and noise. Peter Drucker aptly muted how hearing what isn’t heard is most important in communication, nonetheless, it is characteristically expressed as verbal, non-verbal or body language; and usually listed as four types namely intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and finally, mass communication.

Interpersonal communication

This is the process of communication between two people. Interpersonal communication can be defined as the exchange of ideas, and massage information between one individual and another.it is face-to-face communication, it can also take the form of communication through the telephone in the modern day when mobile phones have lost the gap between different towns and villages cities and counties. Interpersonal communication can also be in written form as we now see with modern communication equipment and various flatforms. People can communicate even at a distance.

The Role of interpersonal communication

The role of interpersonal communication cannot be overemphasized. Human beings communicate to survive. This survival is dependent upon how effectively individuals communicate with themselves either in the exchange of knowledge in business or learning a skill for human growth. Interpersonal communication as a process is the transmission of information between individuals with a desire for response or action. Right from an early stage of life, a baby is being taught how to conduct itself in life. We are taught how to eat drink, seat, walk, talk and even accept things that are classified as good or bad. All these follow the process of communication between parent and child.

When a child grows the same process is followed in the family, school and later the larger society.

Therefore, human beings can not communicate, and interpersonal communication starts as early as possible with the exchange of ideas and information between persons to survive. Through interpersonal communication individuals know themselves, learn about new things and develop a huge success in life. Without interpersonal communication, one can imagine how life can be.

Interpersonal communication can be verbal or non-verbal, written or using sign language. Even people we hearing disabilities communicate with themselves and other people with sign language.

Group dynamics

A group can be defined as coming together of several individuals to accomplish a particular task or goal. Group dynamics refers to the attitudinal and behavioural characteristics of a group. Group dynamics concern how groups form, their structure and process, and how they function. Group dynamics are relevant in both formal and informal groups of all types. In an organizational setting, groups are a very common organizational entity and the study of groups and group dynamics is an important area of study in organizational behavior.

The study of group dynamics is very essential in understanding how decisions are made, how government agencies track the spread of diseases in society, create effective therapy techniques, and follow the emergence and popularity of new ideas and technologies these applications of the field are studied in psychologysociologyanthropologypolitical scienceepidemiologyeducationsocial workleadership studies, business and managerial studies, as well as communication studies.

Group dynamics gives an insight into the effects of the behaviours and roles being played by an individual as a member of a particular group.

According to Tuckman's theory, there are five stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. During these stages, group members must address several issues and how these issues are resolved determines whether the group will succeed in accomplishing its tasks.

Forming. This stage is usually characterized by some confusion and uncertainty. The major goals of the group have not been established. The nature of the task or leadership of the group has not been determined (Luthans, 2005). Thus, forming is an orientation period when members get to know one another and share expectations about the group. Members learn the purpose of the group as well as the rules to be followed. The forming stage should not be rushed because trust and openness must be developed. These feelings strengthen in the later stages of development. Individuals are often confused during this stage because roles are not clear and there may not be a strong leader.

Storming. In this stage, the group is likely to see the highest level of disagreement and conflict. Members often challenge group goals and struggle for power. Individuals often vie for the leadership position during this stage of development. This can be a positive experience for all groups if members can achieve cohesiveness through resolution. Members often voice concern and criticism in this phase. If members are not able to resolve the conflict, then the group will often disband or continue in existence but will remain ineffective and never advance to the other stages.

Norming. This stage is characterized by the recognition of individual differences and shared expectations. Hopefully, at this stage, the group members will begin to develop a feeling of group cohesion and identity. Cooperative effort should begin to yield results. Responsibilities are divided among members and the group decides how it will evaluate progress.

Performing. Performing occurs when the group has matured and attains a feeling of cohesiveness. During this stage of development, individuals accept one another and conflict is resolved through group discussion. Members of the group make decisions through a rational process that is focused on relevant goals rather than emotional issues.

Adjourning. Not all groups experience this stage of development because it is characterized by the disbandment of the group. Some groups are relatively permanent (Luthans, 2005). Reasons that groups disband vary, with common reasons being the accomplishment of the task or individuals deciding to go their ways. Members of the group often experience feelings of closure and sadness as they prepare to leave.

Type of Groups

 Groups can simply be identified as being formal or informal in nature. Formal work groups are established by an organization to achieve organizational goals. Formal groups may take the form of command groups, task groups, and functional groups.

Group norms

Norms are acceptable standards of behaviour within a group that are shared by the members of the group. Norms define the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They are typically created to facilitate group survival, make behaviour more predictable, avoid embarrassing situations, and express the values of the group. Each group will establish its own set of norms that might determine anything from the appropriate dress to how many comments to make in a meeting. Groups exert pressure on members to force them to conform to the group's standards. The norms often reflect the level of commitment, motivation, and performance of the group.

Performance norms determine how quickly members should work and how much they should produce. They are created to determine levels of individual effort. They can be very frustrating to managers because they are not always in line with the organization's goals. Members of a group may have the skill and ability to perform at higher levels but they don't because of the group's performance norms. For example, workers may stop working a production machine 20 minutes before quitting time to wash up, even though they produced fewer items that day than management intended.

Reward-allocation norms determine how rewards are bestowed upon group members. For example, the norm of equality dictates equal treatment of all members. Every member shares equally so rewards are distributed equally to everyone. Equity norms suggest that rewards are distributed according to the member's contribution. In other words, members who contribute the most receive the largest share of the rewards. Members may contribute through effort, skill, or ability. Social responsibility norms reward based on need. Members who have special needs, therefore, receive the largest share of the reward.

The majority of the group must agree that the norms are appropriate for the behaviour to be accepted. There must also be a shared understanding

Group cohesiveness

Cohesiveness refers to the bonding of group members and their desire to remain part of the group. Many factors influence the amount of group cohesiveness. Generally speaking, the more difficult it is to obtain group membership the more cohesive the group. Groups also tend to become cohesive when they are in intense competition with other groups or face a serious external threat to survival. Smaller groups and those who spend considerable time together also tend to be more cohesive.

Cohesiveness in work groups has many positive effects, including worker satisfaction, low turnover and absenteeism, and higher productivity. However, highly cohesive groups may be detrimental to organizational performance if their goals are misaligned with organizational goals. Highly cohesive groups may also be more vulnerable to groupthink. Groupthink occurs when members of a group exert pressure on each other to come to a consensus in decision-making. Groupthink results in careless judgments, unrealistic appraisals of alternative courses of action, and a lack of reality testing. It can lead to several decision-making issues such as the following:

a.       Incomplete assessments of the problem,

b.       Incomplete information search,

c.        Bias in processing information,

d.       Inadequate development of alternatives, and

e.       Failure to examine the risks of the preferred choice.

Evidence suggests that groups typically outperform individuals when the tasks involved require a variety of skills, experience, and decision-making. Groups are often more flexible and can quickly assemble, achieve goals, and disband or move on to another set of objectives. Many organizations have found that groups have many motivational aspects as well. Group members are more likely to participate in decision-making and problem-solving activities leading to empowerment and increased productivity. Groups complete most of the work in an organization; thus, the effectiveness of the organization is limited by the effectiveness of its groups.

Organizational communication

In looking at organizational communication, researchers try to analyze and also criticize the role of communication in an organizational context. Organizational communication is defined as the channels and forms of communication in which organizations such as corporations, non-profits, and governmental bodies engage, including both the internal communications that occur within an organization, and external-facing communications between an organization.

Effective communication may contribute to organizational success in many ways. It can help in building employee morale, satisfaction and engagement. It also helps employees understand the terms and conditions of their employment and drives their commitment and loyalty.

There are four types of organizational communication these include formal and informal communication, directional communication, and internal and external communication. All of these are used effectively by various organizations to achieve their goal and objectives. organizational communication is very important because it clears doubts and blocks all forms of rumours by employees.

Augmentative and alternative communication

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) stands for a variety of ways to communicate that can argue or replace (either temporarily or permanently) the impairment and disability patterns of individuals with serious communication disorders.

Augmentative and alternative communication is used by persons to compensate
for serious speech-language difficulties in the expression or comprehension of
spoken or written language. People making use of AAC are usually individuals with multiple congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disability, and acquired conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and aphasia.

This field was originally called "Augmentative Communication"; this was used to show that such communication systems were to help and aid natural speech rather than to permanently replace it. The addition of "alternative" followed later, when it became clear that for some individuals non-speech systems were their only means of communication. AAC users typically utilize a variety of aided and unaided
communication strategies depending on the communication partners and the context.

Communication is the first key to successful family functioning

Since time immemorial communication was used to relate, pass information, and teach or learn cultural, and religious norms. Communication as is used in the family as an essential tool for family development. One cannot imagine how a child will group without communicating with any person. How the family relate without communicating with one another. Family relationships to survive, instil culture, guide behaviour and coordinate their existence in the larger society. The behaviour of an individual is shaped by the communication received in the family. How families relate depends upon the instructions received in the family. People recognize the relationship between them and another family from within their immediate families.

The first point in individual development is the family structure, as in different societies and cultures, family play a greater role in making a member a great person or not. The amount of care vested in a child from the family help in creating and making the person what he becomes in future. Family communication assists in making a successful relationship and helps the individual family members to look at the feelings of their members and guide the relationship development all the time. Even an individual behaviour points to the type of family one belongs to.

Usually, people listen with rasp attention to family members because of the trust and honesty the relationship grows. It is an avenue for sharing concerns, feelings, care and assistance.

In the family, clear communication helps the relationship grow. Poor communication can result in many family issues and can lead to divorce or violent relationships. A well-articulated method of communication in the family is always a factor in the very good relationship observed in many families. Effective communication in the family is the key to the success of the union.

Communication in the family can also be verbal or non-verbal as the case may be. Verbal communication as in dishing out information to individual members. Setting rules and elders gives a guide to the young ones in terms of how to relate with other members of the community. Religious knowledge is also learned through communication in the family.

It is pertinent to note that communication plays a vital role in the development of any family. We all belong to different families, hence have learned a lot on how to survive, the culture, how to relate with others knows religion and belief. Communication in the family is the engine room of a successful community and it is the catalyst for the development of individuals.

Non-verbal communication is also used in the family either to approve or show disapproval of certain behaviours. A child learns from the behaviour of members of his family. Body language and sign languages are also used and these can be peculiar to different families.

Ishin-denshin, Sign system and Small talk

This is an old traditional mode of interpersonal communication using unspoken words that are mutually understood Ishin-denshin is a Chinese proverb and a Japanese idiom that means the mutual use of unspoken language to communicate.

Usually, this kind of communication is particular in certain groups or situations to avoid external intemperance. People in this kind of group can communicate effectively without the understanding of a stranger. This can also be used as a military language to communicate. it can be used by husband and wife in the presence of visitors to pass a secret message.

Sign language has been a form of communication for a long period. People use signs in interpersonal communication to pass a message across. Children start to learn language by use of signs. Growing up is just fun with the use of sign language to communicate with parents. People with hearing impairment also use sign language to communicate between themselves and the larger community.

Small talk is an informal discussion between individuals. It is an unstructured communication and has little or no significance. it is a form of talks on some unserious issues to wipe away time.

Communication in relationships

Communication either in a relationship or in war is very vital. Clear and effective communication maintains a favourable relationship between couples. Courtship starts with a person getting closer to a partner to attract or convince her with his love advances. Couples were individuals who did not know each other before but come to meet and talk and get to understand each other and appreciate each other’s behaviour and habit. Couples tend to have some misconception about most messages, in a relationship couple must know that initial behaviour and trust counts a lot. It is a known fact that during courtship there is not many problems or difficulty. Each is in love and tends to overlook minor mistakes or think this can pass with time.

In a relationship clear and honest communication counts. Couples need to understand the body language of their partners. Clear communication is required for a successful relationship. You have to be skilful in communication, be a good listener also empathize. Communicate with utmost honesty and always maintain good eye contact. Your partner is someone that looks at you. Skilful communication is key to a good relationship, listening to the concerns of the other individual. Create some jokes, and be human in all respect. This gives some assurance to the partner and maintains a good posture. Your talks should always symbolize your behaviour. Show some love and respect.


Speaking is the use of words to pass messages it can be interpersonal, in a group or to a mass heterogeneous audience. Making speeches needs a lot of skills. One needs to learn not only the vocabulary of the language but also the culture and behaviours of the people he is communicating with.

Speaking in a public gathering or small group or even interpersonal has to be well organized clear and concise. A speaker has to be straight to the point, ambiguity in speaking leads to non-reception of the message. While speaking to people one has to adhere to all the techniques of communication. a good speaker considers the norms and behaviours of the audience, culture and beliefs and even the age breaks of his listeners.


In summary, the human communication process denotes how human beings send and receive messages through words signs or body language. And communication as has been defined is a process of sending and receiving, passing and collecting, and posting and acknowledging information between individuals, groups or within oneself. For communication to take place there must be a sender, the message a medium to pass the message and a receiver. In all the process there might be a possibility of a barrier which distorts information. In communication also there is a possibility or the need for feedback.

Human communication has been categorized into verbal and nonverbal communication. It can also be intrapersonal, interpersonal, group or mass communication.

All these forms of communication require some knowledge and skill for them to be effective.


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