College Essay Examples

Communication Theory

Communication is a vital process that humans need to pass information from one person to another. It usually involves three essential components, which are the sender, message, and receiver. Ideally, the three components must be present for effective communication to take place. Without communication, humans would find it impossible to interact with each other since it forms the fundamental channel through which they can form a connection (Rosenberry, et al, 2017). Additionally, nature also communicates through different and distinct methods. For instance, plants can communicate through their color change to indicate that they need water to survive.  For this reason, scholars have found it necessary to form various channels that they can study the communication pattern displayed by various people hence coming up with the theories of communication (Rosenberry, et al, 2017). Communication theory is a relevant field linked to information theories and mathematics. This field also covers various topics related to semiotics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology. 

           One of the theories of communication is the communication accommodation theory. This theory describes how people adapt their communication styles depending on the environment. The main argument that supports this theory is that humans tend to change how they communicate, hoping to match their communication style to the people they are talking to around them. Howard Giles, a professor of linguistics and psychology at the University of California, is behind the theory (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). Giles stated that people usually incorporate other people’s communication styles into theirs consciously or unconsciously. In other words, people tend to minimize or emphasize their social differences during the communication process. Basically, when a person tries to blend in a new environment, they will consciously integrate some communication elements displayed by the people around them (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). For instance, they may attempt to match the accent, vocabulary, speed, rhythm, or even the gestures in order to feel accommodated. 

           When people attempt to copy some of the communication elements displayed by another person, they form a convergence. In most cases, convergence is present where a person with less power tries to imitate a powerful person hoping to develop the level of communication that will fit the occasion. Convergence is common in formal setups where people must present the interest of an organization in a particular manner as prescribed by the policies (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). Ideally, it is not unusual to find that people from a particular company communicate in a similar manner. Adapting the communication style makes an individual feel accommodated within the organization and helps develop professionalism and formality that is effective for an organization’s reputation and growth (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). In some instances, a powerful person may also feel the need to match how a less powerful person communicates in order to patronize them. This form of convergence can be present in political circles as the politicians address voters in political campaigns. 

           Divergence is also another form of communication accommodation attribute. In contrast to convergence, divergence is when an individual prefers to keep their distance from a person hoping to maintain their identity (Rosenberry, et al, 2017). In other words, a person may be in a new environment but does not open up to accommodate the communication style displayed by the people around them. Basically, this tendency is present when a person feels that the people they are communicating with are inferior to them (Harris, et al, 2018). Such people try to highlight their identity and make it clear through their communication styles that they are not ready to become part of the other party involved in the communication process. In his argument, Giles stated that people who act as divergence contradict the adaptation process, thereby emphasizing the social difference between them and the people they are communicating to rather than minimizing the differences (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). 

           Besides being applicable in organizations, communication accommodation theory can effectively apply in general social settings. For instance, when visiting a person from a different region, one can utilize the convergence aspect of the theory to make them feel accommodated in the new settings (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). This process would include adapting the accent, rhythm, and speed that the people in the region use to fit in well. Failure to adapt these elements of communication would make people perceive them differently, which people usually try to avoid. In most cases, isolation is one of the leading causes of depression; hence it is necessary for people to adapt to the new environment as fast as possible (Simmons-Mackie, 2018). On the other hand, convergence is also an infective way people use to form lasting relationships since they make the other person feel appreciated. For instance, it is not unusual to find couples who use the same gestures while communicating. This aspect is made possible by an individual consciously or unconsciously emulating their partners with the aim of matching their style. 

           Communication accommodation theory can also apply in areas where people hope to develop diversity. For instance, today, the world has evolved to become a global village where people from different cultures communicate on different social media platforms. Without proper application of the communication accommodation theory, people may find it hard to communicate effectively. Unlike in the past, people from different continents get connected through business, education, or basically on a social platform (Zhang, et al, 2018). Consequently, this means that various discussion forums take place every day involving people from different backgrounds. Some people may choose to use the divergence attribute in the communication channels hoping to create an impression that they are not likely to adapt to new communication styles (Harris, et al, 2018). However, business people will utilize the convergence element of the communication accommodation theory to develop new communication modes that will be effective for conducting their businesses. 

           Governments across the world are also coming together to discuss various measures that they should apply to maintain global peace and stability. Ideally, these leaders come from different backgrounds meaning that they have different ways through which they communicate (Zhang, et al, 2018). It would be a misuse of resources if they could meet and disagree on important matters that would improve global stability basically because they have different communication styles (Harris, et al, 2018). For this reason, different leaders end up emulating the communication strategies applied by their counterparts with the sole aim of coming to an agreement. This concept also applies in individual government offices where people acquire a specific communication characteristic, either consciously or unconsciously, to make the operation of the government’s affairs smooth and effective. 

           The communication accommodation theory is also highly practiced in institutions of learning. Different people from various backgrounds meet every day in schools and other institutions of earning with a common agenda to acquire education. It would be completely impossible to have these people agree on various issues if they did not find common ground through which they communicate (Zhang, et al, 2018). Ideally, students in the same classroom develop a common way to interact based on the person they view as their role model. In other words, they develop a standard line of thoughts that makes them speak at the same speed, rhythm, and probably accent (Harris, et al, 2018). In most cases, this helps them understand each other better, creating a class environment with cohesion and understanding. In contrast, if the student does not build convergence, they are likely to form social and cultural classes, thereby forming an unhealthy learning environment. 

           In conclusion, communication is an essential aspect of human life. Scholars have affirmed that human beings are social animals which basically mean that they need to interact. Without communication, interaction would be impossible hence denying them the most crucial element that keeps them happy (Zhang, et al, 2018). Consequently, it is essential to ensure that they maintain a proper communication channel that will develop this important aspect in their daily activities. Communication accommodation theory explains some of the behaviors that humans display while communicating (Harris, et al, 2018). Therefore, people should ensure that they borrow some of the essential elements highlighted in this theory to continue building healthy relationships. Ultimately, this will help them grow intellectually in business and maintain excellent mental stability that is the core of their wellbeing (Zhang, et al, 2018). Additionally, the communication accommodation theory is also an effective tool for developing diversity necessary to develop the world’s economy and maintain peace.


Harris, T. E., & Nelson, M. D. (2018). Applied organizational communication: Theory and practice in a global environment. Routledge.

Rosenberry, J., & Vicker, L. A. (2017). Applied mass communication theory: A guide for media practitioners. Routledge.

Simmons-Mackie, N. (2018). Communication partner training in aphasia: Reflections on communication accommodation theory. Aphasiology32(10), 1215-1224.

Zhang, Y. B., & Giles, H. (2018). Communication accommodation theory. The international encyclopedia of intercultural communication, 95-108.


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By Sandra Arlington

Sandra Arlington is a contributing writer to the Motley Fool. Having written for various online magazines, such as Ehow and LiveStrong, she decided to embark on a travel blog for the past 10 years. She is also a regular contributor to My Essay Writer.

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