Communication accommodation is a communication theory which emphasis the adjustments that people does while communicating. Howard Giles, the professor of communication at the University of California, developed the theory which is and according to him is when people try to emphasis or minimize the social difference between the others whom they interact with. The factors that lead to the accommodation activity are adjustments which can be through verbal communication or through gestures. The theory was evolved from speech adjustment theory, which demonstrates the value of psychological concepts to understand the dynamics of speech. But the theory encompasses more fields such as non-verbal and gestures.
*Interactant – The word refers the close relations between each other with their communication.
Communication accommodation theory elaborates the human tendency to adjust their behaviour while interacting. The reason behind this behaviour is explained as to control the social differences between the interactants. People accommodate their communication activities to get approval and to set a positive image in front of the interactant. The environment in which they are interacting also affects the communication behaviour.
There are two types of accommodation process explained in this theory
- Convergence– convergence is a process where people tend to adapt the other person’s communication characteristics to reduce the social differences
- Divergence-the process contradicts the method of adaptation and in this context the individual emphasise is on the social difference and nonverbal differences between the interactants.
The two processes usually are dependent on the characteristics of the interactant. People accommodated their communication while interacting with a person who has higher standards and other characteristics which they believe is better than them. And the divergent exhibits an opposite characteristic as it emphasises the difference among the close relations with each other. Communication accommodation theory is influenced by social psychology and is guided by four major assumptions
- While communicating there will be similarity and difference in the speech and behaviour. The characteristics that people exhibit are based on our experiences and the cultural backgrounds that we grew up in
- A conversation is evaluated by understanding the perception of the speech and behaviour of the other. Through evaluation people decides to accommodate and fit in
- The social status and belonging is determined by language and behaviours. While people communicate they tend to accommodate the behaviours of those who are in the higher social status than them
- Norms guide the accommodation process which varies in the degree of appropriateness. Norms define the behaviours of people and they are expected to act accordingly
The communication accommodation theory is applicable in various communication processes. In an organisation the communication accommodation can be used to communicate effectively among the employees as well as they adapt while communicating to a senior employee.
Mike was a new employee in a certain organisation. While understanding about the environment, he came to know about his senior officer who apparently had an interest in painting from his co-workers. When mike got an opportunity to interact with him, he glorified the beauty of a painting the officer has been displayed in his office which pleased the officer. In this situation mike accommodated his behaviour according to the situation and thus could create an impression on his senior officer.