Chapter 1: Communication


Translated from the online collection catalogue of the Rijksmuseum:

Rhetorica, Cornelis Cort, after Frans Floris (I), 1565. Rhetorica sits on a chair and listens to the speech of a young man sitting behind her. An older man looking over the young man’s shoulder inspects his concept. Through the window you can see the square in front of the building where a stage is being built. Rhetorica holds a messenger staff in her hand. The caption reads: ‘She cleverly adds the pleasing hues of rhetoric to speech, by which it flows more sweetly to the ears.’

For all information provided in the online catalogue, click here, or on the picture above.


The young man in this picture is instructed by two teachers: an older man, leaning over his shoulder to inspect his work, and the figure of Rhetorica, with a number of books by famous classical authors lying at her feet. On the left, a stage is being built; the suggestion is that the young man will soon have to mount this stage and deliver a speech. While preparing for this task, the young man is supported both by the books written by famous philosophers and by his two teachers. In delivering the speech, the young man will gain first-hand experience in communicating with a large audience.

Professionals from all ages and in all fields need to learn to clearly and effectively communicate with others. This requires a combination of theory and experience. You need to have theoretical knowledge of how communication works and what the best strategies are to achieve your goals, but you also need experience to be able to adequately and successfully implement this knowledge in a range of situations. You cannot do this all on your own: all students need good teachers to set them on the right path.

Chapter 1 offers the essential background knowledge for everyone interested in communication and in the ways communication processes work. It offers a comprehensive model for analyzing communication, which focuses on the four sides of any communication message: the factual information that it conveys (the matter side), what it tells about the sender (the self-expression side), about his or her goals (the appeal side), and about the view of the sender on the relationship with the receiver (the relationship side). All four sides of the message are important to any kind of communication – both formal and informal. A solid grasp on the communication process and an understanding of what you are actually doing when you are sending a message will give you the confidence to engage in professional communication on many levels – just as the young man in this picture who he is preparing his public speech.