Communication is the action to communicate, to relate with others, to convey something to someone. It can also refer to all the means and techniques for broadcasting a message from a more or less vast and heterogeneous audience or action of someone or an organization to inform and promote an activity through others, and to maintain its image, by any media process.
It concerns both humans (interpersonal, groupal communication…), animal, plant (intra- or inter-species communication) or machine (telecommunications, new technologies …) and their hybrids: human-animal ; men–technologies … In fact, it is a science shared by several disciplines that do not respond to a single definition.
And if everyone agrees to define it at the minimum as a process, there are different views when it comes to qualify it.
The information and communication sciences, propose an approach of communication centered on the provision of information. In this context, communication studies both the human-machine interaction and the psychic processes of knowledge transmission (with the support of cognitive sciences).
Social psychology is primarily concerned with interpersonal communication (dual, triadic or groupal). The communication – viewed as a complex system – is applicable to all that happens when individuals interact. Cognitive, emotional and unconscious processes are taken into account. In this light, the transmitted information is always multiple, the transmission of information is only part of the communication process and that different levels of meaning circulate simultaneously.
Psychoanalysis deals with the intra-psychic communication.
A need for identity
The image we give must be confirmed by others. The fact that the role, status and place of actors are well identified enables partners to recognize themselves in a social position, avoid evil insinuations, conflicts, and ensure credibility. Situational speaker identity is discoverable in the utterance.
For a business, branding is the identity of the company perceived by its stakeholders. Harm to the brand image is a reputational risk, detrimental to the smooth running of the business, its credibility and the trust of its customers.
A need for sovereignty
Skilful communication can facilitate processes of influence, legal or not. The NGO development phenomenon in the context of globalization is revealing in this regard. The sovereignty and independence of states can be threatened by the proliferation of uncontrolled open source messages.
Communication is an essential component of diplomacy and the exercise of state sovereignty. When a head of state or government representative speaks at an international meeting, a summit of the Earth, an international conference on a topic of global concern (international trade management of water, health, biodiversity), communication is key in terms of the perception of authority.
Moreover, it is often recognized that the cultural and economic influence of a country is perceived by the influence and use of language. So we note the strong influence of English and Chinese now.
A dynamic of territories
The physical and psychic (intimate) space must be protected. In any organization, everyone defends his space and avoids undue intrusions.
In the territorial economy, for the organization of such centers of excellence, communication is established between very different organizations: decentralized services of states in regions, regional councils, regional directorates industrial groups, small and medium-sized businesses, chambers of commerce and industry, universities and colleges, center for studies and research.
In order to comprehend with all the details of language, it is often better, at regional or local level in any case, to use the native language, and use a lingua franca in international trips.
The need for a language
We have seen in history the importance of language in communication.
English is now widely used for communication in many fields (IT, business, science, mainly). Languages have very different communication statuses: the six official UN languages are English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.
Nevertheless, the native languages are the languages of communication locally, particularly in Europe, which has defined a policy on this.
The languages are not necessarily spoken. They may also be gesture. The sign language allows for example to communicate with and between hearing and non-hearing. This is a separate language, and knows its own evolution.
As sign languages are considered Braille and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 2).
Networking with telecommunications tools
Communication is the prerequisite to enter relationships with others.
At this point, it should be noted the importance of telecommunication facilities based on optical, electrical and electronic techniques.
As to the appearance of the latter type of media since the nineteenth century, and with the exception of the electric telegraph (from 1838) and telephone (elementary network transceiver), media-based electronic technologies (radio, television), used since World War II, did not offer significant feedback opportunities.
With the latest generation of electronic communication tools, feedback becomes easier, and the messages have greatly enriched (documents, pictures). Electronic mail, the internet … it allow to reach groups of people, and make a real group communication.
A message to disseminate
The technical aspects of communication have to hide the essential: communication aims to convey a message.
The advent of the Internet since the 1960s has given rise to various studies by philosophers and sociologists. Among these studies, we note that of Pierre Musso and Philippe Breton, who, under slightly different arguments have the same diagnosis: communication tends to be exploited by telecommunications tools and information technology. The idea is that there is a belief that we communicate well because we have sophisticated technical means (latest software, mobile …). Pierre Musso noted that this belief is based on the philosophy of networks, sort of pseudo “religion” that would be the resurgence of the philosophy of Saint-Simon, based on the principle of universal gravitation.
In fact, on the merits, the communication seeks to respond well to one of the following objectives:
- to get information, knowledge, or emotion;
- to create a common standard for understanding;
- to create a relationship to interact frequently, or restart the dialogue;
- to obtain influence to incite another to act according to his will;
- to give its identity, its personality, to the third party to be known.
This is called issues of communication. These issues are related to the different functions of the message (see the concepts of Roman Jakobson).
We see that a communication too focused on the technical means can forget the risks inherent in the communication.