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In the Company of Others

An Introduction to Communication

Fifth edition

J. Dan Rothwell

Publication Date - January 2016

ISBN: 9780190457426

560 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $134.99

Practical advice for effective communication. With Rothwell, it's not just talk.


Combining current research with humor, vivid examples, and practical advice, Rothwell brings human communication to life for students. Now in its fifth edition, In the Company of Others continues to use the communication competence model to help students apply theoretical lessons to their own skills.

New to this Edition

  • Almost 500 new references have been added while hundreds of older references have been removed
  • Chapters have been condensed, reducing the overall length by 43 pages to make reading Rothwell even quicker and easier
  • Model speeches have been thoroughly updated with more current research and statistics
  • Many new photos, cartoons, and graphics are included throughout the book
  • At least 100 topics are given substantial coverage that other texts either ignore or provide only cursory treatment


  • Rothwell's clear and engaging writing style uses humor and straightforward language to engage students and keep them reading
  • Culture and gender are introduced early in the text and thoroughly integrated into subsequent chapters
  • "Focus on Controversy" boxes help students learn how to weigh evidence and draw conclusions supported by research
  • Carefully composed model speeches (both informative and persuasive) illustrate the advice offered in the text

About the Author(s)

J. Dan Rothwell is chair of the Communication Studies Department at Cabrillo College. During his extensive teaching career, Dr. Rothwell has received almost two dozen awards, including the 2014 "Master Teacher" award from the Western States Communication Association; a 2012 official resolution by the California State Senate acknowledging Dr. Rothwell's teaching excellence; the 2011 National Communication Association "Community College Educator of the Year"; the 2010 Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology conferred by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, Florida State College, and the National Council of Instructional Administrators; and the 2010 Cabrillo College "Innovative Teacher of the Year" award.

Previous Publication Date(s)

February 2012
March 2009
August 2003


"In the Company of Others is the best organized, most informative intro to communication studies textbook around. Written by a gifted teacher in an honest, lively, and personal style, it features surprising insights and intriguing examples. Rothwell has an admirable sense of humor."--Lawrence MacKenzie, Community College of Philadelphia

"If you are looking for a text that approaches the course from a multicultural perspective, a social constructionist perspective, or perhaps even a critical perspective, this is the text for you."--Steve Stogsdill, Hardin-Simmons University

"I would say that this textbook offers a compelling take on basic communication concepts and theories, chock full of timely examples and relevant topics. I really like the assessments and end-of-chapter discussion questions."--Jaime Bochantin, DePaul University

Table of Contents


    Benefits of Communication Competence
    Social Connection: Communicating With Others
    Workplace Benefits: Positions, Performance, and Promotion
    Communication Improvement: All Can Benefit
    Communication Myths
    Myth 1: Communication Is a Cure-All
    Myth 2: Communication Is Just Common Sense
    Myth 3: Communication Quantity Equals Quality
    Developing Communication Competence: Hindsight Bias Test
    Defining Communication
    Communication Is Transactional: The Evolving Perspective
    Communication is a Process: The Continuous Flow
    Communication Is Sharing Meaning: Making Sense
    Defining Communication Competence
    Effectiveness: Achieving Goals
    Appropriateness: Communicating by the Rules
    Achieving Communication Competence
    Knowledge: Learning the Rules
    Skills: Showing, Not Just Knowing
    Sensitivity: Developing Receptive Accuracy
    Commitment: Acquiring a Passion for Excellence
    Ethics: Determining the Right and Wrong of Communication
    Creating a Communication Climate
    Types of Climates: Constructive and Destructive
    Communication Patterns and Climates: Competition and Cooperation
    Focus on Controversy: Ethics and Hypercompetitiveness
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    The Perceptual Process

    Selecting: Forced Choices
    Sensory Limitations: We're Mostly Blind and Deaf
    Selective Attention: Bombarded By Stimuli
    Organizing: Creating Schemas
    Prototypes: Best Case
    Stereotyping: Generalizing About Groups
    Scripts: Predictable Behavior
    Interpreting: Making Sense of Stimuli
    Perception of Self
    Self-Concept: Influence Others
    Self-Esteem: Evaluating your Personal Identity
    Influences on Self-Esteem: Appraisals, Comparison, and Contingencies
    Self-Esteem Issues: Too Little or Too Much
    Developing Communication Competence: How's Your Self-Esteem?
    Focus on Controversy: Self-Esteem: More Is Not Always Better
    Perceptual Distortion: Body Image and Self-Esteem
    Self-Serving Bias: Protecting Your Self-Esteem
    Optimal Self-Esteem: Pursuing Goals, Not Self-Esteem
    Self-Disclosure: Revealing your Self to Others
    Developing Communication Competence: Where Do You Draw the Line?
    Perception of Others
    First Impressions: You Never Get a Second Chance
    Primacy Effect: Power Of First Impressions
    Accuracy of First impressions: It Depends
    Negativity Bias: Agile, Funny, Compassionate, and FAT
    Attribution Error: Not So Kind to Others
    Stereotyping Others: The Dangers
    Unintended Prejudice: Instant Decision Making
    Benevolent Sexism: The Façade of Positive Stereotyping
    Self-fulfilling Prophecies: Creating Negative Consequences
    Combating Stereotypes: Communication Solutions
    Communication Competence and Perceptual Challenges
    Monitor Perceptual Biases
    Recognize Cultural Differences
    Manage impressions
    Practice Empathy
    Check Perceptions
    Quizzes Without
    Film School Case Studies

    Culture and Communication

    Intercultural opportunities: It's a New World
    Cultural Values: Deep, Not Surface, Differences
    Individualism-Collectivism: Prime Value Difference
    Developing Communication Competence: Be Ye Individualist or Collectivist?
    Power-Distance: Does Bill Gates Deserve Special Treatment?
    Focus on Controversy: Competition - Cultural Influence
    Relationship of Two Dimensions: Connecting the Dots
    Intercultural Miscommunication
    Ethnocentrism: Intercultural Prejudice
    Ethnocentrism: Cultural Superiority Complex
    Core Values and Ethnocentrism: Bedrock Cultural Bias
    Cultural Relativism: Differences, Not Deficiencies
    Multiculturalism: Recognition of Human Rights
    Interpersonal Miscommunication: Not Knowing the Rules
    Intercultural Communication Competence
    Become Mindful: Monitor Your Communication
    Become Acculturated: Strangers in a Strange Space
    Reduce Uncertainty: Egads, Nothing's the Same!
    Promote Convergence: Bringing Us Together
    Gender and Communication
    Masculine-Feminine Value Dimension: Rigidity Versus Flexibility
    The Gender Differences Hypothesis: Mars and Venus - Really?
    Social Support and Social Skills: Caring About and for Others
    Negotiating for Salaries: Do You Want a Million Dollars?
    Gender Similarities Hypothesis: united States and Canada
    Explaining Gender Differences: No Consensus
    Styles Perspectives: Status Versus Connection
    Dominance Perspective: Unequal Power
    Deficiencies Perspective: Communication Inadequacies
    Communication Competence and Gender
    Don't Magnify Gender Differences
    Embrace the Value of Many Perspectives
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    The Nature of Language

    Structure: Saying by the Rules
    Phonology: Patterns of Sound
    Morphology: Transforming Phonemes into Meaningful Units
    Syntax: Word-Order Rules
    Semantics: Rules of Meaning
    Productivity: inventing World and Expressing Thoughts
    Displacement: Beyond the Here and Now
    Self-Reflexiveness: The Language or Language
    The Abstracting Process
    Sense Experience: Approximating Our Physical World
    Description: Reporting the Approximation
    Inference: Drawing Conclusions
    Judgement: Conclusions that Assign Value
    The Power of Language
    Language and Thinking: Related but Different
    Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: Linguistic Imprisonment
    Labeling: The Name Game
    Framing: Influencing Choices
    Identity: Languages R Us
    Focus on Controversy: The Language of Texting: G9
    Competent Language Use: Problems and Solutions
    Signal Reactions: Responding, Not Thinking
    Source of Signal reactions: Connotative Meaning
    Developing Communication Competence: Measuring Connotative Meaning
    Focus on Controversy: Verbal Taboos - A Question of Appropriateness
    Competence Signal Reactions: Developing Semantic Reactions
    Language of Abuse and Exclusion
    False Dichotomies: The Inaccuracy of Either-Or Framing
    Mislabeling: Inaccurate Descriptions
    Bias and Stigma: Distorting Perceptions
    Competence and Mislabeling: Operational Definitions
    Dead-Level Abstracting: Ineffective Sense Making
    Communication Competence and Dead-Level Abstracting: Three Ways
    Inferential Errors: Ineffective Guessing
    Developing Communication Competence: The uncritical Inference Test
    Jargon, Euphemisms, and Slang: Promoting Misunderstanding
    Jargon: Verbal Shorthand
    Euphemisms: Linguistic Novocain
    Slang: Casual Language
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    The Power of Nonverbal Communication

    General Overview: Powerful, But Do Not Overstate
    Culture and Nonverbal Communication: Some Challenges
    Distinctions Between Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
    Number of Channels: Single-Versus Multichanneled
    Developing Communication Competence: nonverbal Communication Test
    Degree of Ambiguity: No "Reading a Person Like a Book"
    Discrete Versus Continuous: Stop and Go
    Interconnectedness of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
    Repetition: Same Message, Different Channels
    Accentuation: intensifying Verbal Messages
    Substitution: no Words Necessary
    Regulation: Conversational Traffic Cop
    Contradiction: Mixed Messages
    Types of Nonverbal Communication
    Physical Appearance: Looks Matter
    Physical Attractiveness: The Beauty Bias
    Body Shape and Size: Universal Standards of Attractiveness
    Body Adornments: Tattoos and Taboos
    Clothing: Not Just for Warmth
    Hair: Styling
    Facial Communication: your Personal Billboard
    Eyes: Your Personal Windows
    Facial Expressions: The Look of Emotions
    Gestural Communication: Bodies in Motion
    Touch Communication: Hands-On Experience
    Significance of Touch: Life Changing
    Types of Touch: Function, Usage, and Intensity
    Touch Taboos: Keeping Your Hands to Yourself
    Competence and Touch: Some Suggestions
    Voice Communication: How You Sound
    Speech Communication: Distance and Territoriality
    Distance: Defining Relationships
    Territoriality: Defending Your Space
    Environment: Creating Atmosphere
    Focus on Controversy: Gated Communities - Fortress America
    Communicating Competently with Nonverbal Codes
    Monitor Nonverbal Communication
    Resist Jumping to Conclusions
    Observe Multiple Nonverbal Cues
    Recognize Cultural Differences
    Strive for Consistency
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    Significance of Listening

    The Listening Process
    Comprehending: Discriminating for Understanding
    Comprehending Phonemes: Discriminating Speech Sounds
    Comprehending Words: Some Challenges
    Retaining: Memories
    Fallibility of Memory: You Can't Retain Everything
    Benefits of Forgetting: Curse of the Infallible Memory
    Why You Forget: Inattention, Meaninglessness, and De-motivation
    Responding: Providing Feedback
    Competent Informal Listening
    Information Overload: Too Much of a Good Thing
    Shift Response: Conversational Narcissism
    Competitive Interrupting: Dominating Conversations
    Glazing Over: The Wandering Mind
    Pseudolistening: Faking It
    Ambushed: Biased Listening
    Active Listening: Focused Attention
    Developing Communication Competence: Focused Attention
    Competent Critical Listening
    Skepticism, True Belief, and Cynicism: Differences
    The Process of True Believing: Uncritical Listening
    Confirmation Bias: Searching for Support
    Rationalization of Disconfirmation: Clinging to Falsehoods
    Shifting the Burden of Proof: Whose Obligation Is It?
    The Skepticism Process: Exercising Competent Critical Listening
    Possibility: Could Happen, but Don't Bet on It
    Plausibility: Making a Logical Case
    Probability: Likelihood of Events
    Certainty: Without Exception
    Self-Correction: Progressing by Mistake
    Competent Emphatic Listening
    Response Styles: Initial Response Patterns
    Evaluative Response: Making Judgments
    Advising Response: Telling Others How to Act
    Interpreting Response: Explaining Meaning
    Content-Only Response: Ignoring Feelings
    Probing Response: Asking Questions
    Supporting Response: Bolstering Others
    Understanding Response: Paraphrasing and Perception Checking
    Response Styles and Empathetic Listening: Making Choices
    Empathetic Response Styles: Probing, Supporting, and Understanding
    Nonempathic Responses: Evaluating, Advising, Interpreting, and Content-Only
    Developing Communication Competence: Distinguishing Listening Responses
    Choosing Competent Response Styles: Frequency, Timing, and Solicitation
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies


    Definition of Power

    The Nature of Power: No Powerless People
    Forms of Power: Dominance, Prevention, and Empowerment
    Power Struggles and Power Sharing: A Comparison
    Communication Indicators of Power
    General Indicators: Defining, Following, Opposing, and Inhibiting
    Verbal indicators: Language Choices
    Powerful and Powerless Language: Communicating Status
    Gender and Cultural Influences: Powerful Language Differences
    Nonverbal indicators: Silent Exercise of Power
    Power Resources
    Information: Scarce and Restricted
    Expertise: Information Plus Know-How
    Legitimate Authority: You Will Obey
    Rewards and Punishments: Pleasure and Pain
    Personal Qualities: A Powerful Persona
    Problems of Power Imbalance
    Power Sharing: Key to Relationship Success or Failure
    Relationship Aggression: Battle for Dominance
    Aggression Types: Direct and Indirect
    Solutions: The Communication Link
    Focus on Controversy: Gender and Relationship Aggression - A White-Hot Debate
    Verbal and Nonverbal Abuse: Expressing Contempt
    Sexual Harassment: When "Flirting" is Hurting
    Commonplace Difficulties: Lighter Side
    Competent Communication and Balancing Power
    Dominance-Prevention: Competitive Power Balancing
    Coalition Formation: Pooling Power
    Defiance: Digging in Your Heels
    Resistance: Dragging Your Feet
    Empowerment: Exercising Positive Power
    Developing Assertiveness: Neither Doormat nor Boot Wiper
    Developing Communication Competence: Assertiveness Self-Assessment Questionnaire
    Increasing Personal Power Resources: Expanding Choices
    Employing Cooperative Argumentation: deliberations, Not Combat
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    Main Reasons for Forming Relationships

    Need to Belong: Like Food and Water
    Interpersonal Attraction: What Draws Us Together
    Rewards: Exchange Theory
    Forming Close Relationships
    Intimacy and Love: Romantic Partners and Friends
    Relationship Development: Coming-Together Phases
    Developing Communication Competence: Recognizing Flirting Signals
    Relationship Deterioration: Coming-Apart Phases
    Sustaining Relationships: Lovers, Friends, Relatives, and Coworkers
    Connecting Bids: Keeping Us Together
    Emphasize Supportive Communication: How to Talk to Others
    Developing Communication Competence: Reactions to Defensive and Supportive Communication
    Defuse Defensiveness: When a Cooperative Climate Isn't Enough
    Address Relationship Deterioration: Beyond Sustaining
    Cross-Sex Friendships: Sustaining with Complications
    Technology and Competent Interpersonal Relationships
    Social Contact: Pros and Cons
    Focus on Controversy: Addiction to Technology
    Developing Communication Competence: Cell Phone Etiquette for the Competent Communicator
    Online Romance: Cyberlove
    Conflict: Electronic Flame Throwing
    Developing Communication Competence: Netiquette
    Intercultural Relationships and Communication Competence
    Intercultural Friendships: Additional Challenges
    Intercultural Romance: Tougher Than Friendships
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    Definition of Conflict

    General Definition: Essential Elements
    Types of Conflict: It's Not All Bad
    Relationship Dialectics
    Dialectics Within Relationships: Pushing Us/Pulling Us
    Dialectics with Outsiders: Us and Them
    Addressing Dialectics: Not a Balancing Act
    Focus on Controversy: Ethical Conundrum: Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?
    Communication Styles of Conflict Management
    Collaborating: Looking for Win-Win Solutions
    Accommodating: Yielding to Others
    Compromising: Halving the Loaf
    Avoiding: Ignoring Conflict
    Competing: Power-Forcing
    Managing Conflict Competently
    Styles in Action: Smooth Sailing to White-Water Rafting
    Culture and Conflict: Different Styles
    Transforming Competing into Collaborating: Cooperation Revisited
    Styles and Partner Abuse: Addressing Aggression
    Anger Management: Controlling the Beast Within
    Workplace Bullying: Conflict and Anger Meet
    Forgiveness: Healing Conflict's Wounds
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies


    Structure of Small Groups
    Definitions: Setting the Scope
    Group Size: Influencing Structure
    Task and Social Dimensions: Productivity and Cohesiveness
    Norms: Rules Governing Group Behavior
    Roles: Expected Patterns of Behavior
    Developing Communication Competence: Playing by the Roles: A Self-Assessment
    Defining Leadership: A Process of Influence
    Leader Emergence: A Process of Elimination
    Focus on Controversy: Gender and Ethnicity: Glass Ceiling or Glass Cliff?
    Competent Leadership: Evolving Perspectives
    Developing Communication Competence: What is your Leadership Style Preference?
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies

    Why Groups Succeed and
    Synergy: Creating Group Genius
    Challenges That Can Impede Group Genius
    Developing Communication Competence: Are You a Difficult Group Member?
    Developing Communication Competence: Social Loafing: A Self-Assessment
    Avoid Groupthink: Preventing Decisions Beyond Bad
    Developing Competent Group Decision Making and Problem Solving
    Structure Decision Making: Using the Standard Agenda
    Employ Decision-Making Rules Competently: Making Choices
    Developing Communication Competence: How to Achieve a Consensus
    Manage Meetings Effectively: Stop Wasting Time
    Developing Communication Competence: A Sample Agenda for Group Meetings
    Enhance Creative Problem Solving: Becoming Unstuck
    Teambuilding and Teamwork
    Defining a Team: Not Just a Small Group
    Establishing Team Goals: An Important First Step
    Developing a Team Identity: Who Are You?
    Designating Clear Team Roles: Avoid Duplication
    Virtual Groups and Teams
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies


    Addressing Speech Anxiety

    Pervasiveness: You're Not Alone
    Symptoms: Fight-or-Flight Response
    Causes: Dysfunctional Anxiety
    Strategies: Managing Anxiety
    Audience Analysis
    Types of Audiences: The Five Cs
    Audience Composition: Making Inferences
    Topic Choice and Analysis
    Potential Topics: Important Choice
    Appropriateness of Topic: Blending Topic and Audience
    Narrowing the Topic: Recognizing Constraints
    Researching the Topic
    The Internet: First Stop
    Libraries: Bricks-and-Mortar Research
    Focus on Controversy: Wikipedia: Credible Scholarship or Mob Rule?
    Interviewing: Questioning Experts
    Competent Outlining and Organizing
    Effective Outlining: Making Sense
    Effective Organization: Creating Patterns
    Developing Communication Competence: A Student Outline: Rough Draft and Revision
    Developing Communication Competence: Examples of Signposts and Transitions
    Competent Delivery of Speeches
    Methods of Delivery: The Big Four
    Developing Competent Delivery
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies
    TED Talks and YouTube Links

    Gaining and Maintaining
    Attention Strategies: Involuntary Triggers
    Effective Introductions and Conclusions
    Objectives for Competent Introductions
    Objectives for Competent Conclusions
    Developing Supporting Materials
    Examples: Various Types and Effectiveness
    Statistics: Quantifying Your Points
    Evaluating Supporting Materials: Criteria
    Competent Style of Presentation: A Signature Event
    Oral Versus Written Style: An Essay Is Not a Speech
    Standards of Competent Oral Style: The Language of a Speech
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies
    TED Talks and YouTube Links

    Distinguishing Informative from Persuasive Speaking

    Noncontroversial Information: Staying Neutral
    Precursor to Persuasion: No Call to Action
    Types of Informative Speeches
    Reports: Facts in Brief
    Explanations: Deeper Understanding
    Demonstrations: Acting Out
    Narratives: Storytelling
    Comparisons: Pros and Cons
    Guidelines for Competent Informative Speaking
    Inform: Tell Us What We Don't Know
    Adapt: Audience Analysis
    Clarify Key Terms: Definitions
    Supporting Materials Revisited: Additional Advice
    Avoid Information Overload: Don't Drown in Data
    Tell Your Story Well: Narrative Tips
    Developing Communication Competence: Outline and Text of an Informative Speech
    Visual Aids
    Types: Benefits and Drawbacks
    Media: Simple to Complex Technology
    Focus on Controversy: PowerPoint: Lots of Power, Little Point?
    Guidelines: Aids, Not Distractions
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies
    TED Talks and YouTube Links

    Foundations of Persuasion
    Coercion Versus Persuasion: Choice
    Attitude-Behavior Consistency: Variables
    Goals of Persuasion
    Elaboration Likelihood Model: Mindful or Mindless Persuasion
    Culture and Persuasion: A Question of Values
    Persuasive Speaking Strategies
    Establish Identification: Connecting with Your Audience
    Build Credibility: Can We Believe You?
    Build Arguments: Persuasive Logic and Evidence
    Use Emotional Appeals: Beyond Logic
    Induce Cognitive Dissonance: Creating Tension
    Use the Contrast Effect: Minimize the Magnitude
    Use a Two-Sided Strategy: Refutation
    Developing Communication Competence: A Sample Outline and Persuasive Speech
    Quizzes Without Consequences
    Film School Case Studies
    TED Talks and YouTube Links

    Appendix A: INTERVIEWING

Teaching Resources

·         Ancillary Resource Center (ARC) – includes PowerPoint slides and an Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank.

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