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What is meant by the principle: "communication is inevitable, irreversible and unrepeatable"? Explain what is meant by the principle: "communication is inevitable, irreversible and unrepeatable." Give an example to illustrate your answer.

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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Talking about miscommunication or misunderstanding might be helpful here.

The idea behind the quote, it seems to me, refers to an understanding of communication as a "transferrence of information". This information does not have to be true or accurate, but can be purely emotional, as many examples above have pointed out. 

But once the transferrence of information has occured, we can only correct a misunderstanding. We cannot undo it, just like we can't undo a thought. 

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Here is a perfect example of the principle mentioned: I wrote an answer to this some hours ago but, just as I was about to click Submit, my laptop blacked out. There went my answer. Now, since communication is unrepeatable, I can only hope to give a vaguely recalled rendition of my first (really good!) answer or hope to re-think the question and come up with something as good, though it will of necessity be different. Since communication is inevitable, I desire to try again rather than raise my hands (which is communication itself, though seen by no one but myself) in despair saying, "I'll never get that back!" and going on with the next DB thread. Since communication is irreversible, well, I guess this one doen't apply to my laptop blacking out my answer ....

One thing that is meant by communication being inevitable is that we are communicating beings. We each have thoughts stirring in our minds that we desire to communicate out loud to an attentive and understanding listener. We desire to be understood by someone and to understand someone. Whether the communication be overtly verbal or through the flip-side of the coin, signing as in American Sign Language. And, yes, communication is also unintentional as through microexpressions, subtle gestures, attitudes, and non-specific responses.

Communication is irreversible and unrepeatable for the same physiological reasons. Communication sent and received creates new chemical and electrical pathways through the synaptic neurotransmitters (noradrenaline, for one) in the brain. These pathways are irreversible, though science has recently shown they can be muted. These pathways are also unrepeatable because, as suggested above, if you try to repeat a communication (either a sent or a received communication) you are actually repeating the memory of the communication and memories, though sometimes near-perfect, are always still a memory and not the original communication. If you re-think the communication, it by definition cannot be a repetition.

It is for these physiological reasons that communications, even seemingly simple ones, do have irreversible effects on the cognition, memory, brain structure, and life events of both the sender and receiver. This is why the more practical explanations that lead to wisdom like "Think before you speak," "Appear wise through your silence," and "A hasty word cannot be recalled" come into being. It is for these same reasons that we owe it to ourselves to be attentive to communications because some of the most important ones are small, simple, and subtle and ... unrepeatable. If we fail in this attentiveness, we will find crucial, though unrepeatable, communications lost forever, sometimes with life altering effects.

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Communication is inevitable because we communicate all the time, even if we do not realize that we are doing so. We communicate through gestures and expressions; we communicate a message through a lack of gestures and expressions. Even sitting stoically and unmoving we are still communicating some sort of message to anyone who looks upon us.

Communication is irreversible because we cannot undo whatever message we convey to someone else, whether it is verbal communication or not. The 'horses are out of the barn' so-to-speak, whenever anyone receives any type of communication message from us - we cannot undo the fact that we sent some type of message to them, intended or otherwise.

Communication is unrepeatable because we will never communicate in exactly the same way again. Each communication instance is a unique point in time, accomplished in a unique way whereby the sender and receiver of the communication cannot repeat exactly their physical movements, thoughts, perceptions, and the exact environment of the communication precisely. The next communication will vary somewhat, no matter how little, from any other prior communication.


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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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We are always communicating, even if we are not talking. We communicate by body language and facial expressions. You can never really re-create these moments, because every communication is context-driven. Also, once we say something you cannot unsay it.

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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If you are alive, communication is inevitable--with your eyes, gestures, expressions, words, etc. It is irreversible, because, once it has been received by another, you cannot change whatever it was you communicated, good or bad. You can do damage control, but, inevitably, it is out there and has been processed by another person. That is why people should think about what they communicate using social media--it will be searchable forever. It is unrepeatable because, once something is communicated, it can never be duplicated exactly, even if you remember the words perfectly. The cadence of speech, the little nuances and expressions will never be exact.

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Mike Walter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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These are interesting concepts.

Communication is inevitable: Think about the times that you have made judgments about others when they weren't attempting to overtly communicate with you at all.

Communication is irreversible: I don't know about you, but there have been many times when I said something and then wished I could go back and say it in a different way. It doesn't usually help much.

Communication is unrepeatable: This ties into "communication is irreversible." When you communicate something in a way you wish you hadn't, trying to re-do the communication just doesn't work as well as wish it would. The initial communication effect is still there, and it will stay there.

This website has information about this at the bottom of the page, as well as a video. The video will redirect you to Youtube to watch it. It's a familiar movie filled with communication problems for one of the characters.


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iklan100 | Student

mwalter822 has given a very fine, detailed response above. id please like to 'say' (communicate) how i see it

(a) Inevitable-- We all communicate, and need to communicate/interact. But communication can be 'verbal' or 'non verbal', its not just restricted to spoken or written language/s and/or expression.

(b) Irreversible-- there is a saying here that ''Two things cannot be retrieved--the word once spoken and the arrow, once sped from the bow''! I guess that communication is like that, whether its in 'words' or gestures/actions/other forms. And like mwalter822, I also must say one rues and regrets many things, said and done.

(c) Unrepeatable-- I do not wholly agree agree with this contention, am sorry. I think in SOME cases, some forms of communication are unrepeatable; in other cases, we keep repeating things. Please, do think about this point.


rosinha5 | Student

Communication is inevitable means your communicating without even realizing you are. Even with a blank stare someone somewhere is interpretting your thought as their own. Like the book says, there is no way you cannot NOT respond to someone, even by staying quiet that itself is an action and a response. An example is when you scream at someone and they say nothing back to you but you see their eyes water and start to cry. They didnt say anything back but their body language told you that they were hurt or sad.

Communication is irreversable means that once you say something, it can't be un-done. You can try to make it better or try to make them think something else of what you said but at the end of the day you still said it. Like people say think before you act. An example of this would be if someone told you your pregnant! and you really aren't, no matter how much they want to sugar coat what you said you basically told them that they gained weight. You already hurt their feelings and no matter what you say to try to fix it they will not forget this comment.

Communication is unrepeatable means that when something happens and you try to reinact a situation of how it happened, it won't come out the way it really happened, it maybe close but never exactly the same. An example of this is if you and your mom get into an arguement and your trying to show your friend how it happened, if she wasnt there in person she won't know exactly how it was.