Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo
College Success

8.2 Purpose of Communication

College Success8.2 Purpose of Communication

Estimated completion time: 8 minutes.

Questions to Consider:

  • Does everything I say or write have a purpose?
  • Do I expect a response or a result from my communication?
  • Do I change how I communicate depending on what response I want or need?

“The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

— Mark Twain6

Does Everything I Say or Write Have a Purpose?

There are many reasons that communication takes place. Some of our communication might be simply an attempt at being cordial and friendly. For instance, we might like to say hello to a friend down the hall, give a shout-out on Twitter to a family member living in another state, say “excuse me” to someone we’ve just bumped into, smile at a baby in a stroller going by, post a picture of our birthday party on Facebook, and stop to pet a new puppy in the park. Or maybe we just need some information, such as asking an instructor for guidelines for a project, telling a store owner what we are looking for, or going up to a stranger for directions to the nearest bus stop. As you can see, almost everything we do on a daily basis has something to do with communication. Additionally, we can communicate the same information to a wide range of people, and how this is received can vary greatly.

Another important purpose of communication is to forge relationships, whether these are of short or long duration or for particular purposes. What kind of relationships do you hope to develop when using various forms of communication? Are you looking for a partner for a project, or perhaps a date for the football game, or just want to nurture the relationships you have with friends already? The impact of flawed communication on relationships can be long-lasting, so it is important to be thoughtful when posting your thoughts and ideas.

Do I Expect a Response or a Result From My Communication?

There are times we are just sending out messages or information and not expecting a response, except perhaps a “like.” For instance, your friend posts a picture of her new dog on Instagram and you click on “like.” Other times we try to communicate an idea or ask a question and we do want a response, such as “What time is the exam on Friday?” This response is possibly from one person or many. There are instances when you need information, and you will either ask someone, do some web searching, or make a phone call to get the information that you need. Depending on what your need is, you must consider what form of communication will work best and get you the most satisfactory results. Your purpose for communicating is to get some kind of reply.

What Do I Bring to My Communication With Others?

You probably haven’t thought of this, but whether you actively communicate or not, you are still communicating. Your facial expressions, body language, what you are wearing, your hairstyle, body art, where you choose to sit or stand in a room, the people you associate with, eye contact or lack thereof, and any other mannerisms that you have are a form of communication. We all pick up signals from each other in these nonverbal ways. So even though you might be shy, or reserved, or not interested in any interaction at all, you are still communicating some information to others.


  • 6The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners, Compiled and edited by George Bainton. 1890. Section: Mark Twain
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Sep 20, 2023 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.