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Essential Communication

Third Edition

Author Ronald B. Adler, George Rodman, and Athena du Pré

Publication Date - 29 November 2021

ISBN: 9780197544310

312 pages
8 1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Focused on the fundamentals, every element of Essential Communication is designed to make you a better communicator - online, in person, at home, and at work.


An essential part of effective communication involves listening to and learning from one another in a world that's quickly changing. The third edition of Essential Communication excels in its coverage of diversity, social media, and career success. This edition builds upon the engaging design and practical advice that have made the first editions of Essential Communication so popular. It stands out for its commitment to active learning with real-life examples, self-quizzes, reflection opportunities, and communication checklists to help students think critically about the material and put what they learn to good use.

New to this Edition

  • Updated coverage about the advantages of social media, the challenges of multimodal communication, and the impact of technology on relationships.
  • New features on talking about race and gender, avoiding microaggressions, and making friends with diverse groups of people.
  • Strategies for establishing an online identity as a job candidate, creating searchable cover letters and resumes, and participating effectively in virtual interviews and team meetings.


  • Commitment to active learning with real-life examples, self-quizzes, and reflection opportunities
  • Tips & Reminders that provide a quick review of how students can use communication concepts in their lives right now
  • Pause to Reflect prompts to inspire students to think critically about their own communication

About the Author(s)

Ronald B. Adler is Professor of Communication, Emeritus, at Santa Barbara City College.

George Rodman is Professor in the Department of Television and Radio at Brooklyn College, City University.

Athena du Pré is Distinguished University Professor of Communication at the University if West Florida.

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1: The Importance of Communication

    Communication Defined
    Communication is symbolic.
    Communication is a process.
    Communication is irreversible.
    Communication is relational.

    Models of Communication
    Linear Model
    Transactional Model
    Pause to Reflect: How Noisy Is Your Communication?

    Communication Contexts
    Intrapersonal Communication
    Dyadic Communication
    Interpersonal Communication
    Small Group Communication
    Organizational Communication
    Public Communication
    Mass Communication
    Social Media

    Communication and Social Media
    Social media is entertaining.
    Social media is . . . social.
    Social media is a means of identity management.
    Social media can hijack your time.
    Social media is distracting.
    Social media can make you feel bad.
    Tips & Reminders: 5 Tips for Communicating Well on Social Media

    Communication Competence
    There is no “ideal” way to communicate.
    Competence is situational.
    Competence is relational.
    Competence can be learned.
    Competent communicators are flexible.
    Competent communicators are empathic.
    Competent communicators self-monitor.
    Competent communicators are committed.
    About You: What Type of Communicator are You?

    Misconceptions About Communication
    Myth 1: Communication requires complete understanding.
    Myth 2: Communication can solve all problems.
    Myth 3: Communication is good.
    Myth 4: Meanings are in words.
    Myth 5: Communication is simple.
    Myth 6: More communication is always better.

    Communication Take-Aways: The Importance of Communication
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 2: The Self, Perception, and Communication

    The Self-Concept Defined

    Communication and the Self-Concept
    Significant Others
    Mass Media
    Pause to Reflect: What Shapes Your Self-Concept?

    Mistaken Attributions and Communication
    Individuals typically judge themselves more charitably than they judge others.
    People often pay more attention to negative impressions than to positive ones.
    When individuals do perceive positive qualities, they tend to overgeneralize.
    People gravitate to the familiar.

    Myths About Gendered Communication
    Myth 1: Sex and gender are the same.
    Myth 2: Communication styles are either masculine or feminine.
    Myth 3: There is an “opposite” sex.
    Myth 4: Gender roles are rooted in biology.

    Emotional IQ and Communication
    Internal Motivation
    Social Skills
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Steps to Engage in Perception Checking

    About You: How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

    Identity Management
    Individuals have public and private selves.
    People engage in facework to manage identities.
    Identity management is collaborative.
    People have multiple identities.
    Identity management may be deliberate or unconscious.
    People differ in their degree of identity management.
    Social rules influence identity management.
    Identity management can be goal-oriented.
    Identity management isn't necessarily dishonest.
    Pause to Reflect: Which Identities Do You Enact?

    Identity Management and Social Media
    Social media can boost self-esteem.
    Being genuine matters most.
    Self-esteem can enhance emotional resilience.

    Communication Take-Aways: Self, Perception, and Communication
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 3: Communication and Culture
    Culture Defined
    Culture and Coculture
    In-Group and Out-Group

    Cultural Values and Norms
    Individualism and Collectivism
    High and Low Context
    Uncertainty Avoidance
    Power Distance
    Talk and Silence
    Pause to Reflect: What Cultural Norms Do You Embrace?
    About You: How Much Do You Know About Other Cultures?
    Communication and Cocultures
    Race and Ethnicity
    Regional Differences
    Sexual Orientation and Gender
    Political Viewpoints
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Ways to Discuss Politics Responsibly on Social Media

    Age and Generation
    Ideas about aging change over time.
    Stereotypes discourage open communication.
    Being young has its challenges.
    Generations regard technology differently.
    Differences emerge at work.
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Ways to Learn More About Other Cultures

    Talking about Race
    Expect strong emotions.
    Put yourself in the other person's shoes.
    Don't debate.
    Learn and apologize, if appropriate.
    Don't force the issue.
    Pause to Reflect: How Does Talking About Race Make You Feel?

    Overcoming Prejudice
    We tend to think our culture is the best.
    We often prejudge and stereotype others.
    Judgments can lead to unfair treatment.
    Mindful thinking can help.

    Coping with Culture Shock
    Don't be too hard on yourself.
    Homesickness is normal.
    Expect progress and setbacks.
    Reach out to others.

    Communication Take-Aways: Communication and Culture
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 4: Language

    The Nature of Language
    Language is symbolic.
    Meanings are in people, not in words.
    Words affect and reflect reality.
    Language is governed by rules.

    The Power of Language
    Accents and Dialects
    “Powerful” and “Powerless” Speech
    Affiliative Language
    Pause to Reflect: How Does Language Influence You?

    Language is equivocal.
    Meaning is relative.
    Language differs by community.
    Language is nuanced.
    Tips and Reminders: 6 Ways to Avoid Misunderstandings

    Facts, Inferences, and Opinions
    Distinguish between fact and opinion.
    Don't confuse facts with inferences.
    Don't present emotions as facts.
    Don't resort to insults.
    Tips and Reminders: 3 Ways to Distinguish Between Facts and Opinions

    Microaggressive Language
    Examine your own assumptions.
    Use humor.
    Point out the underlying assumption.
    Be an ally.
    Avoid casting individuals as “spokespersons.”
    Choose your battles.
    Apologize if you mess up.

    Gender and Language

    About You: How Do You Use Language?
    Communication Take-Aways: Communication and Language
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 5: Listening

    The Importance of Listening
    Listening makes you a better friend and romantic partner.
    Good listeners aren't easily fooled.
    People with good listening skills are more likely than others to be hired and promoted.
    Asking for and listening to advice makes you look good.
    Listening is a leadership skill.
    Pause to Reflect: How Can You Improve as a Listener?

    Misconceptions About Listening
    Myth: Hearing and listening are the same thing.
    Myth: People only listen with their ears.
    Myth: Listening is a natural process.
    Myth: All listeners receive the same message.

    The Listening Process

    Listening in a Complex World
    Message Overload
    Psychological Noise
    Physical Noise
    Cultural Differences
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Ways to Limit Social Media Distractions

    Hurtful Listening Habits
    Pretending to Listen
    Tuning In and Out
    Acting Defensively
    Avoiding the Issue
    Ignoring Underlying Issues
    Being Self-Centered
    Talking Too Much
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Tips for Listening Nondefensively

    Skills for Different Types of Listening
    Relational Listening
    Supportive Listening
    Task-Oriented Listening
    Analytical Listening
    Critical Listening
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Tips for Listening Mindfully

    About You: What Are Your Listening Strengths?
    Communication Take-Aways: Listening Effectively
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 6: Nonverbal Communication
    The Nature of Nonverbal Communication
    Nonverbal communication is impossible to avoid.
    Nonverbal behavior is part of identity management.
    Nonverbal cues help define relationships.
    Nonverbal behavior is ambiguous.
    Nonverbal communication is influenced by cultural expectations.
    Nonverbal communication is essential.
    Pause to Reflect: How Nonverbally Savvy Are You?
    Functions of Nonverbal Communication

    Deception and Nonverbal Cues
    What cues indicate that someone is lying?
    What if the deceiver is a child?
    Are my odds better if I know the person well?
    Why is it so hard to detect deception?
    When do I have the best chance of catching a lie?

    Kinesic Nonverbal Communication
    Eye Contact
    Expressions of Emotion
    About You: How Worldly Are Your Nonverbal Communication Skills?

    The Impact of Space, Time, and Place
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Ways to Interpret Nonverbal Cues More Accurately

    Nonverbal Cues and Attractiveness
    Attractiveness Advantage
    Body Art
    Overall Effect
    Pause to Reflect: What Role Does Appearance Play for You?

    Gender and Nonverbal Communication
    Gender Differences
    Media's Influence
    Social Structure
    Pause to Reflect: How Do Your Nonverbal Cues Suggest?
    Communication Take-Aways: Nonverbal Communication
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 7: Communicating in Interpersonal Relationships

    Defining Interpersonal Communication

    Relational Messages

    Metacommunication can bring issues to the surface.
    Metacommunication can be risky.
    Metacommunication isn't just for problem solving.

    Self-Disclosure in Close Relationships
    Social Penetration Model
    The Johari Window
    Pause to Reflect: Do You Self-Disclose Too Much or Too Little?
    Tips & Reminders: 8 Questions to Consider Before Self-Disclosing

    Interpersonal Communication Online
    Online communication helps people stay connected.
    Online communication provides for immense diversity.
    Online communication can feel nonthreatening.
    Online communication can be validating.
    Online communication has a pause option . . . sometimes.
    Online communication can be distracting.
    Online communication can be isolating.
    Pause to Reflect: Do You Overuse Social Media?

    Relational Spirals
    Relational spirals can feel unavoidable.
    Spirals can be destructive.
    Spirals can be positive.
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Ways to Avoid Negative Relational Spirals

    About You: What's the Forecast for Your Communication Climate?
    Communication Take-Aways: Interpersonal Communication
    Putting it All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 8: Communicating with Friends and Family
    Friendships and Family Ties
    Family Relationships
    Friends and Family

    How People Evaluate Friendship Potential
    You have a lot in common.
    You balance each other out.
    You like and appreciate each other.
    You admire each other.
    You open up to each other.
    You interact frequently.
    You find the relationship rewarding.
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Reasons You Don't Have to be Perfect to be a Good Friend
    Pause to Reflect: What Qualities Matter Most in a Friend?

    Friendships Can Build Bridges
    Stereotypes fade.
    Trust grows.
    Understanding blooms.
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Strategies for Befriending a Wide Range of People

    Types of Friendships
    Short-Term Versus Long-Term
    Low Disclosure Versus High Disclosure
    Doing-Oriented Versus Being-Oriented
    Low Obligation Versus High Obligation
    Frequent Contact Versus Occasional Contact
    Tips & Reminders: 8 Communication Strategies for Being a Good Friend
    About You: What Kind of Friendship Do You Have?
    Gender and Friendship
    Do men and women do friendship differently?
    Can heterosexual men and women be just friends?
    Are there advantages to other-sex friendships?
    How does gender diversity figure into friendship?

    Communicating with Friends Online
    Many people share more in person, at least at first.
    Online communication can be less anxiety provoking.
    Online communication transcends time and space.
    More online communication isn't always better.

    Parenting Relationships
    Family Dynamics
    Parenting Styles

    Sibling Relationships
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Communication Tips for Strengthening Family Ties
    Pause to Reflect: How Does Your Family Communicate?

    Communication Take-Aways: Communicating With Friends and Family
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 9: Communicating with Romantic Partners
    Stages of Romantic Relationships
    Tips & Reminders: 7 Ways to Transition from Online to In-Person Dating
    Pause to Reflect: Where Does Your Relationship Stand?

    Gender and Intimacy
    Speaking the Languages of Love
    Affirming Words
    Quality Time
    Physical Touch
    Acts of Service
    About You: What's Your Love Language?

    Relational Dialectics
    Connection Versus Autonomy
    Openness Versus Privacy
    Predictability Versus Novelty
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Strategies for Managing Dialectical Tensions
    Pause to Reflect: What Dialectic Strategies Do You Use?
    Deception in Romantic Relationships
    Altruistic Lies
    Self-Serving Lies

    How Partners Express Conflict
    Indirect Communication
    Passive Aggression
    Direct Aggression
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Ways to Protect Yourself from an Abusive Partner

    Conflict Patterns that Ruin Relationships
    Partners criticize each other.
    Partners show contempt.
    Partners are defensive.
    Partners engage in stonewalling.
    Pause to Reflect: How Do You Handle Conflict as a Couple?

    Applying Win-Win Problem Solving
    Identify your problem and unmet needs.
    Make a date.
    Describe your problem and needs.
    Check your partner's understanding.
    Solicit your partner's needs.
    Check your understanding of your partner's needs.
    Negotiate a solution.
    Follow up on the solution.

    Communication Take-Aways: Communicating with Romantic Partners
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 10: Communicating on the Job Market

    Employers Seek Good Communicators
    Good communicators work well in teams.
    Good communicators enhance customer satisfaction.
    Good communicators build public awareness.
    Good communicators make good leaders.
    Good communicators inspire others.

    Networking Strategies to Find a Job
    Look for networking prospects.
    Engage in online networking.
    Seek referrals.
    Conduct informational interviews.
    Show appreciation.
    Tips & Reminders: 5 Strategies to Build a Career-Enhancing Network

    Managing Your Online Identity
    Showcase your strengths and goals.
    Build a professional identity.
    Avoid embarrassing posts.
    Monitor your online presence.
    Engage in damage control.
    Beware mistaken identities.
    Don't be scared off.
    Don't stop when you get hired.
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Steps to Follow When Applying for a Job

    Preparing for a Job Interview
    Do research.
    Prepare for likely questions.
    Know when and where to go.
    Practice reframing anxiety as enthusiasm.
    Pause to Reflect: What Do You Have to Offer?
    Tips & Reminders: 7 Strategies for Creating a Presentation About Yourself
    Pause to Reflect: What Should You Include in a Presentation?

    Interviewing and the Law
    Know the law.
    Prepare in advance.

    Interviewing Best Practices
    Dress for success.
    Bring copies of your résumé and portfolio.
    Mind your manners.
    Follow the interviewer's lead.
    Keep your answers succinct and specific.
    Describe relevant challenges, actions, and results.
    Ask good questions of your own.
    Follow up after the interview.
    Tips & Reminders: 8 Ways to Respond to Common Interview Questions

    Interviewing by Phone or Video
    Present a professional identity.
    Practice with technology in advance.
    Ensure that you have the right time for the interview.
    Ask in advance how long the interview will last.
    Look at the camera, not at the screen.
    Conduct a dress rehearsal.
    Don't panic if technology fails.

    Communication Take-Aways: Communicating to Land a Job
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 11: Communicating in the Workplace
    Communication Mistakes to Avoid at Work
    Making Fun of People
    Overlooking Cultural Differences
    Doing Less Than Your Best
    Losing Your Cool
    Fixating on a Mistake
    Tips & Reminders: 10 Ways to Get Slackers to Do Their Share

    Communication Strategies for Leaders
    Characteristics of Effective Leaders
    Trait Theories of Leadership
    Situational Leadership
    Transformational Leadership
    Behaviors that Demonstrate Leadership Potential
    Figure 11.1: Managerial Grid
    Pause to Reflect: What Has Shaped Your Leadership Approach?

    About You: What's Your Leadership Style?

    Working with a Difficult Boss
    Rise to the challenge.
    Make up for the boss's shortcomings.
    Seek advice from others.
    Talk with your boss.
    Maintain a professional demeanor.
    Adjust your expectations.
    If necessary, make a gracious exit.
    Tips & Reminders: 5 Steps to Leave a Job Without Burning Bridges

    Power in the Workplace
    Legitimate Power
    Expert Power
    Connection Power
    Reward Power
    Coercive Power
    Referent Power

    Communication in Small Groups
    Groups are defined by goals and relationships.
    Group members have different goals.
    Groups operate via spoken and unspoken rules.
    Group members play different roles.
    Groups develop in stages.
    Group cohesion boosts commitment.
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Team Members

    Advantages of Group Problem Solving
    Groups have more resources than individuals do.
    Group members can catch errors.
    Group work enhances buy-in.
    Groups benefit from diverse ideas.
    Groups are best at solving some problems.
    Pause to Reflect: How Do You Feel About Group Work?

    Making the Most of Group Meetings
    Encourage equal participation.
    Avoid information underload and overload.
    Avoid pressure to conform.
    Make the most of diversity.
    Tips & Reminders: 9 Ways to Make the Most of Online Meetings

    A Structured Problem-Solving Approach
    Identify the problem.
    Analyze the problem.
    Identify criteria for success.
    Gather relevant information.
    Identify supporting and restraining forces.
    Develop creative solutions.
    Select an option.
    Implement the plan.
    Follow up on the solution.
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Ways to Reach a Group Decision

    Communication Take-Aways: Communicating in the Workplace
    Putting It All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 12: Preparing Speeches
    Analyzing Your Audience
    Demographics and Political Affiliation
    Attitudes, Beliefs, and Values
    Audience Perception of the Occasion
    Pause to Reflect: Where Do You Stand?

    Planning Your Speech
    Step 1: Choose a topic.
    Step 2: Define your purpose.
    Step 3: Write a purpose statement.
    Step 4: State your thesis.
    Step 5: Gather information.
    Step 6: Double-check your sources.
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Ways to Evaluate Online Information

    Structuring Your Speech
    Speaking Notes
    Organizational Patterns

    Creating the Introduction
    Capture attention.
    Preview the main points.
    Set the tone of your speech.
    Demonstrate the importance of your topic to your audience.
    Establish credibility.
    Tips & Reminders: 9 Ways to Capture the Audience's Attention

    Designing Conclusions and Transitions
    The Conclusion
    Pause to Reflect: How Did You Come to That Conclusion

    Types of Supporting Material
    Styles of Support
    Pause to Reflect: What Kind of Gatherer Are You?

    Communication Take-Aways: Preparing Speeches
    Putting it All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 13: Presenting Speeches
    Managing Speech Anxiety
    Facilitative and Debilitative Anxiety
    Past Negative Experiences and Irrational Thinking
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Types of Irrational Fears About Public Speaking
    Pause to Reflect: Are You Thinking Rationally?
    About You: Do You Suffer from Speech Anxiety?
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Steps to Practicing a Speech

    Choosing a Type of Delivery

    Selecting Visual Aids
    Objects and Models
    Word and Number Charts

    Using Visual Aids
    Presentation Software
    Audio and Video Clips
    Whiteboards and Chalkboards
    Flip Pads and Poster Boards
    Tips & Reminders: 5 Rules for Using Visual Aids Effectively

    Visual Aspects of Delivery
    Facial Expression
    Eye Contact

    Auditory Aspects of Delivery
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Ways to Improve Your Articulation
    Pause to Reflect: How Is Your Articulation?

    Virtual Delivery
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Tips for Online/Virtual Delivery of Speeches

    Communication Take-Aways: Presenting Speeches
    Putting it All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

    Chapter 14: Speaking to Inform and Persuade

    Informing Versus Persuading
    Informative Speeches
    Persuasive Speeches
    Overlap Between Informative and Persuasive Speeches
    Pause to Reflect: Informative and Persuasive Speaking

    Techniques of Informative Speaking
    Define a specific informative purpose.
    Use clear, simple language.
    Emphasize important points.
    Generate audience involvement.
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Ways to Make It Easy for the Audience to Listen
    Tips & Reminders: 4 Ways to Handle a Question-and-Answer Period

    Techniques of Persuasive Speaking
    Set a specific persuasive purpose.
    Adapt to your specific audience.
    Establish common ground and credibility.
    Draw upon Aristotle's Triad.
    Tips & Reminders: 3 Types of Persuasive Appeals

    Logic, Ethics, and the Art of Persuasion
    Step 1: Structure your basic argument.
    Step 2: Describe the problem.
    Step 3: Describe the solution.
    Step 4: Describe the desired audience response.
    Sample Outline using Monroe's Motivated Sequence.

    Structuring Reasoning Within Your Argument
    Claims and Subclaims
    The Toulmin Model
    Tips & Reminders: 6 Fallacies and How to Avoid Them

    About You: Can You Identify Common Fallacies?

    Communication Take-Aways: Speaking to Inform and Persuade
    Putting it All Together: Show Your Communication Know-How

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