Communication Theory


Dainton and Zelley (2017) elucidate that a theory is useful for illumination of the aspect of communication of an individual, and hence allowing them to have an understanding the process of communication. In addition, a theory is useful for hiding things or is useful is a distortion of important things. Precisely, a communication theory is a systematic process of the features of a communication process. Furthermore, communication theories help in focusing attention on specific concepts of making clarifications on the observations made (Khalighi & Uysal, 2014). Theories are also useful for predicting the communication behavior as well as generating the social image of an individual. Specifically, there are many communication theories including agenda setting theory, communication accommodation theory, and cognitive dissonance theory among others. This research paper seeks to discuss the communication accommodation theory. 

Why the Theory was chosen

Communication accommodation theory was first introduced in 1971 and at this time it was called the speech accommodation theory. The theory argues that when human beings are communicating with one another there are changes in the way that each one of them talks and listens depending on the other person. Gallois and Giles (2015) indicate that people may not know or realize when they change the way they talk or listen to accommodate the other individual but it occurs on many occasions. The communication accommodation theory has been chosen in this discussion due to the applicability of the theory in the day to day communication process.

The theory is as well heuristic. As such, there has been supporting the theory by researchers of diverse origins due to the expansive and complete nature of the theory. Furthermore, the core processes of the theory have been stated to be divergence and convergence and hence making easy for one to get an understanding of the theory. This is attributed to the fact that the theory is made simple by the processes used in describing it (Dainton & Zelley, 2017). The theory is as well accepted globally due to lack of many critics on its applicability and the way that it operates in the community today.

The fact that the theory is applicable in various spans of life and in different cultural and social settings is a stepping stone that has been useful in the decision regarding the application of this theory. Giles (2016) opines that communication accommodation theory is useful in giving a description of the way that people adjust their styles of communication to have an understanding of others. This allows them to fit the culture and the society. The changes in verbal and nonverbal styles are done through divergence and convergence whereby divergence involves the use of the differences among the groups that one is identified within the adjustments. On the other hand, convergence involves the instances that one matches their communication style to suit the person they are speaking to. This is mainly applicable for the people who are powerless in the society and are in search of social approval. Along these lines, the theory is vital in the society today either in the workplace or in homes.

What has been learned about the Theory

From the theory, there are several key concepts that have been learned including the fact that people may make changes on the way they listen or speak depending on the person that they are speaking to. According to Zhang and Giles (2017), the reason that people have for the changes is for them to show an agreement or affinity to the other party in the communication process. This is as well useful for making the other person feel loved and hence they end up liking the party that changed to accommodate their communication. Nonetheless, it has been learned that the changes can as well be fake or some people may change their communication standards to mock the other parties. Khalighi and Uysal (2014) adduce that in the case that the person that is using convergence has more power as compared to the person listening to them, there is a possibility that the action made by the speaker could be patronizing.

The other thing that has been learned from the communication accommodation theory is that people who have less power make use of convergence to accommodate the people who have more power. Nonetheless, people are not always forced to identify themselves with other people when they talk to them but rather do so to get information even when one does not want to be identified with the other party (Gallois & Giles, 2015). An example of this case is seen when a person does not try to sound like the other person when speaking but makes emphasis on their accent. Along these lines, it can be deduced that there are people who identify themselves with their own identity rather than accommodating others and this can be seen in the way that they communicate.

It has been learned as well that the process of divergence could occur in the instance that an individual would wish to maintain some distance with the party they are communicating with. Giles (2016) elucidates that people will mainly tend to make use of the process of divergence when speaking with a group that belongs to an inferior group. Nonetheless, this could as well be a way that an individual intends to show their identification with a certain group.

The origin of changes that are made by people to accommodate the other person in a communication process has also been learned. Zhang and Giles (2017) enunciate that the study on the communication accommodation theory was derived from the shifts that were seen among people when making a speech or when talking to different people. The theorist investigated the emotions and processes that played a role in using the strategy of convergence and divergence in a conversation.

How I relate with the Theory

Communication accommodation theory is useful for indicating the reasons behind the changes that are seen among people to accommodate others in a conversation. The relation of the theory today to day experience can be seen due to the variable importance of making changes in communication such that an understanding can be derived for the instances that one is seen to be over-accommodating. The understanding of the theory helps in boosting the relational and analytical perspective of an individual. For example, the convergence of marketers with the potential consumers will allow them to get acceptance. Dainton and Zelley (2017) on the other hand argue that the understanding of the communication accommodation theory allows one to notice the cases that an over-accommodated advertisement could be seen.

Relating to the theory could as well be seen in the cases of self-reflection. In this consideration, the understanding of the way that one makes use of convergence or divergence is fundamental in critiquing the style of communication that is used. Along these lines, one will be able to make adjustments to ensure that wise decisions are made while taking part in a communication. According to Khalighi and Uysal (2014), the understanding will as well instill respect among people of different ages since there are perceptions that older people are slow in their speech and the young have to slow down the communication to enhance the communication effectiveness. The communication accommodation theory helps people of different standards to have an effective communication since the cases of using terminologies that cannot be understood easily can be eliminated with the understanding of the other party. Along these lines, it can be deduced that one can be in a position of relating to the communication accommodation theory.

Applicability of The theory

The communication accommodation theory is applicable today in different perspectives of life. In workplaces, the theory is largely applicable in instances that an employee is speaking to a superior person in the organization. In this account, a junior employee will change the communication strategy that they use depending on the level of seniority of the person they are speaking to. The difference in social status of an employee and a manager will require the availability of a technique in which both parties are able to communicate and hence the senior employee will vary the communication to ensure that the junior employee is comfortable. On the other hand, the junior employee will change the manner that they communicate to ensure that the senior employee is communicated to with respect. Furthermore, organization employees make use of the theory in the process of communicating with prospective clients. In this regard, the employee will make use of a language that is understood by the clients to ensure that they are comfortable and accommodated in the organization.

Critics of the theory

The communication accommodation they have received few critiques from researchers and are considered to be sound (Gallois & Giles, 2015). The theory as developed by Gile has been accepted by many researchers although there are a few discrepancies that are put forward. One of the issues that have been pointed out regarding the theory is that a conversation is seen to be complex and cannot only be narrowed down to convergence and divergence. In addition, the critics have pointed out there are possibilities of people using both convergence and divergence in a conversation and this has not been researched. As such, the issue of making use of both divergence and convergence has not attracted much research but is considered to be calling for the need for action on the possibility of having such a scenario. Furthermore, the theory has made the assumption that both parties who take part in a communication are doing so in a rational manner. This could not be the issue however since there could be instances that one makes use of divergence or convergence as a mockery of the other partner. Liu and Fraustino (2014) point out that all conversations cannot be rational since there are instances that people are found to be non-reasonable especially when there is a conflict. In this consideration, the theory has been deduced to be evading this aspect of communication. 


In conclusion, it can be deduced that communication theories play a critical role in predicting the communication behavior of an individual or it could help in focusing attention on specific concepts. This research paper has discussed the communication accommodation theory.  The theory is deduced to be one in which people tend to change the way they talk to accommodate the other party. From this theory, it has been learned that people may either change the way they speak or listen to the other individual for enhancement of the communication process. The theory is applicable to the day to day live even today. As such, it could be applied in the workplace where an employee is speaking to a senior employee in the organization. The theory has however faced critiques in that it does not describe the cases where an individual could act irrationally for instance in the cases of a conflict.


Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2017). Applying communication theory for professional life: A practical introduction. Sage publications.

Gallois, C., & Giles, H. (2015). Communication accommodation theory. The international encyclopedia of language and social interaction.

Giles, H. (Ed.). (2016). Communication accommodation theory: Negotiating personal relationships and social identities across contexts. Cambridge University Press.

Khalighi, M. A., & Uysal, M. (2014). Survey on free space optical communication: A communication theory perspective. IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, 16(4), 2231-2258.

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