What Does It Mean To Say That Communication Is A Reciprocal Process?


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Ian John answered
The term 'communication is a reciprocal process' is a more complex way of stating that people should learn to listen, as well as speak, in equal measures.

In general terms, communication in its basic form, is simply the transmission of information from one person or item to another. For example, the sending of a letter or an email.

The notion that communication is reciprocal builds upon that simple definition. Reciprocal means that it is a two-way process, that communication is not only sent from one person to another, but that key information is also transmitted back to the original sender too.

So in the example given above, reciprocal communication would be the sender of the letter receiving a letter back from their acquaintance, perhaps giving them information that they were previously unaware of.

In the world of business, the phrase tends to mean that it is a good idea for people who are in charge of a team or office should listen to the comments and observations of their workers, as much as they should instruct and advise them. The implication being that because the workers are dealing with real situations and people, they will develop certain positive knowledge, skills and techniques that can be communicated to their boss. The boss can then communicate this on to other team members, thus benefiting everybody in the office.

It also provides the opportunity for those in charge to receive feedback concerning their decisions, allowing them to evaluate the success of the decisions they have made and, with the help of their team, ensure that better decisions can be made in future.

In essence, communication should ideally be reciprocal because it then becomes more than merely the transmission of an idea or information, but a continual loop which allows information or an idea to be refined and improved to the benefit of all.

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