why do we need to communicate with each other

The desire to communicate is hard-wired into all of us. It was an effective survival mechanism for our ancestors, who shared information about food supplies, dangerous animals, and weather patterns, and it continues to help us understand our world, including what behavior is appropriate and how to act in certain situations. People talk because sharing information makes life easier. Our motivations for sharing online are the same as the motivations of our ancestors. We often update our status because we need information. Research has shown that the majority of tweets that mention brands are seeking information rather than expressing sentiment, and one in five tweets is about a product or service. Decades of research in social psychology has shown that people talk to form and grow social bonds. Conversations ensure that we understand one another. One key aspect of this is communal laughter. Research has shown that if people laugh together with strangers, they are as generous to them as they are to their friends.

Talking to someone sends out strong social signals. It shows people that we consider them important enough to spend time together. This is also true online. People update their status to produce a feeling of connectedness, even when people are geographically distant. Status updates often contain social gestures and people often respond by liking or commenting on the content, not because they actually like the content but because they want to send out a social signal to build the relationship. In many cases, the conversation that follows a status update is much more important than the status update itself. More than the act of
sharing content, marketing campaigns need to support conversations. Research has shown that social bonds are central to our happiness. The deeper the relationships someone has, the happier they will be. Women talk to form social bonds more often than men. Many of their conversations are aimed at building and maintaining their social network.

Men more often talk about themselves or things they claim to be knowledgeable about, often because they are trying to impress the people around them. When researchers have studied why people share, they have consistently found that many do it to help others. This is an altruistic act with no expected reciprocity. For many, it is important to them to be perceived as helpful, and so they try to share content that they think other people will find valuable. This is especially clear when we see people share information that may not reflect positively on themselves. While people talk to make their lives easier, to form social bonds, and to help others, most of our conversations are a form of reputation management. Research has shown that most conversations are recounting personal experiences, or gossiping about who is doing what with whom. Only 5 percent is criticism or negative gossip. The vast majority of these conversations are positive, as we are driven to preserve a positive reputation.

Our identities are constantly shaped and refined by the conversations we have. Our values were passed on from conversations with our family, community, society, country, church, and through our profession, and are continually refined by the people we spend time with. Why Do We Communicate? We communicate for a variety of reasons! We use communication to share information, comment, ask questions, express wants and needs, develop social relationships, social etiquette, etc. Communication is much more than wants and needs. Our main reasons for communication change over time just slightly. Based on the research of Janice Light, during the life span, we are communicating for social reasons over 50% of the time. Wants and needs make a very small part. Exchanging information grows through the years. Based on these ideas, we need to create opportunities to communicate for a variety of reasons.

As communication partners, we need to model a variety of reasons (functions of) for communication as well. As part of tool box we are working on, you might find this handout helpful to use as a target/ model reminder for all the communication partners. Brief instructions are included in the handout, a blank document to use, as well as a couple examples. You can simply fill in words to act as reminders or use the button capture feature in Chat Editor to create a visual of the sequences to be modeled. You might provide this visual support in different areas of the room to remind everyone what opportunities need to be created for communication. For example, at student locker areas, you might post one that includes greeting (hello good bye), requesting (help), comment (good day, bad day), manners (please, thank you). You can create another one for another area of the classroom, such as a game corner. The focus might be on turn taking, commenting, questioning, and requesting.

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