Interpersonal Communications Reading
• Communication: A process involving both deliberate and accidental
transfer of meaning.
• Communication is also accidental or unintentional.
• Interpersonal communication occurs when two people form a dyad, also
known as two people communicating with one another.
• There is intimate communication at one end and impersonal
communication at the opposite end.
• The more personal a relationship becomes, the more interdependent the
two people become, sharing thoughts and feelings with each other.
• Intrapersonal communication: communication requiring only a single
communicator; communication with oneself.
• Interpersonal communication: the ongoing ever-changing process that
occurs when one person interacts with another forming a dyad;
communication occurring within a relationship.
• Dyad: two individuals interacting; a two-person relationship.
• Interpersonal competence: the ability to use appropriate communication
to build and maintain an effective relationship.
• There are seven key elements that influence interpretation of this act.
o The people involved
o The message that each person sends and/or perceives.
o The channel in use
o The amount of noise present
o The communication context
o The feedback sent in response
o The acts effect(s) on the individuals involved
• Communication between any two people ranges from impersonal at one
end of an imaginary continuum to “intimate” at the other end.
• Once a relationship grows you can accurately predict how a person will
behave facing a certain citation.
• The Essential Elements of Interpersonal Communication
• People - The senders and receivers of communication messages
o Messages - The content of communication
o Channels - The medium through which messages travel
1 o Noise - Interference with the ability to send or receive messages
o Feedback - Information received in exchange for messages
o Context - The environmental, situational, or cultural setting in which
communication takes place
o Effect - The result of a communication episode
• The way you engage with others is subject to change because what
worked at one point in time may not work at another point in time.
• Role duality: The simultaneous performance of the roles of sender and
receiver by the members of a dyad.
• Message: The content of communication.
• We negotiate the meaning we derive from interpersonal communication by
sending and receiving verbal and nonverbal messages.
• Messages can be conveyed through any one of our five senses: auditory,
visual, gustatory, olfactory, or tactile.
• Channel: A medium or passageway through which a message travels.
• Consider a first date: to prepare, you make sure you look and smell nice;
you choose a quiet setting to ensure you can hear each other; and you
generally put your best face forward in both verbal and nonverbal ways in
order to say, “I like you and I hope you like me too.”
• If you find yourself consistently tuning in on just one channel, you might
miss the most salient parts of a message.
• Noise: Anything that interferes with or impedes the ability to send or
receive a message.
• Noise distracts communicators by focusing their attention on something
extraneous to the communication act.
• As the level of noise increases, it becomes more and more unlikely that
we will be successful at negotiating or sharing meaning.
• Feedback: Information received in exchange for a message sent.
• Positive feedback: Responses that enhance behavior in progress.
2 • Negative feedback: Responses that stop behavior in progress.
TABLE 1.2 Types of Noise
o Semantic noise - Noise due to the failure to understand the
intended meaning of one or more words or the context in which the
words are being used (persons speaking different languages, using
jargon and “technicalese”)
o Environmental noise - Noise due to the sound, smell, sight, and
feel of the environment or physical communication space that
distracts attention from what is being said or done (cars honking,
garbage rotting, people talking at once, cellular or computer
o Physiological noise - Noise due to personal illness, discomfort, or
a physical problem including speech, visual, auditory, or memory
impairment (difficulty articulating, hearing or sight loss, fatigue,
o Psychological noise - Noise due to anxiety, confusion, bias, past
experience, or emotional arousal that interferes with communication
(sender or receiver prejudice, closed- mindedness, rage)
o Intellectual noise - Noise due to information overload or underload
(over- or underpreparedness)
• Internal feedback: A person’s response to his or her own performance.
• External feedback: Responses received from others.
• Low-monitored feedback: Feedback that is sincere and spontaneous;
feedback delivered without careful planning.
• High-monitored feedback: Feedback offered to serve a specific purpose;
feedback that is sent intentionally.
• Feedforward: A variant of feedback sent prior to a message’s delivery as
a means of revealing something about to follow.
• Phatic communication: Superficial interaction designed to open the
channel between individuals.
• Context: The setting in which communication takes place.
• Effect: The result of a communication episode.
3 • Linear or unidirectional model: A representation of communication that
depicts it as going in only one direction.
o Ex: souce: encodes message channel message noise receiver:
decodes the message
• Interaction model: A representation of communication as a back-and-
forth process. (see text for model)
• Transactional model: A representation of communication that depicts
transmission and reception occurring simultaneously, demonstrating that
source and receiver continually influence one another. (see text for model)
• Advantages and limitations of communications models:
Model Communications Advantages Limitations
Linear Television and radio Simple and Not useful for
E-mail and texts Direct most face-to-
presentations that encounters
do not allow for
Interaction Instant messaging Wider Still discounts
Class presentations applicability receiver’s
where content is active role in
adjusted based on creating
Transactional Any encounter in Most realistic Does not apply
which meaning is depiction of to texting,
cocreated interpersonal tweeting, and
• Interpersonal communication is necessary for both physical and
It fulfills our social functions:
• Our need for affection—to express or receive fondness
4 • Our need for inclusion—to be included or include others as full partners
• Our need for control—to direct or exert influence over the self and others
so that we feel we are able to deal with and manage our lives and
• Interpersonal communication similarly fulfills our need to be friended and
to friend others. (Notice how friend has also become a verb.) – It
increases our personal satisfaction.
• We use interpersonal communication to influence others—sometimes
subtly and sometimes overtly.
• It is a mutually reinforcing activity we engage in together. - We mutually
influence each other.
1.Key characteristics: descriptions of the communication that are common
across different situations or contexts
2.Core communication principles: identifiable behavioral patterns and
3.Axioms: the fundamental rules by which communication may be analyzed
T ABLE 1.4 Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication
Communication Is . . . In Other Words . . .
A dynamic process It is ongoing, continuous and in a
constant state of flux.
Unrepeatable and irreversible It is unique
Learned We find out over time what works for us
and what does not work if we remain
conscious of the communication.
Characterized by wholeness and It operates as a complete entity, much
nonsummativeity like a team functions.
5 • Once we have said or done something to another, we cannot erase its
• Dynamic process: A process that is ongoing, continuous, and in a state
of constant flux.
• Reasoned sense making: The ability to predict and account for the
behavior of a particular person.
• Retrospective sense making: The ability to make sense of one’s own
behavior once it has occurred.
• Axioms of communication: A paradigm of universally accepted
principles used for understanding communication.
TABLE 1.5 Axioms of Communication
1. You cannot not communicate.
2. Interactions have content and relationship dimensions.
3. Interactions are defined by how they are punctuated.
4. Messages are verbal symbols and nonverbal cues.
5. Exchanges are symmetrical or complementary.
• Complementary relationship: A relationship based on difference in
which the parties engage in opposite behaviors.
• Cultural awareness: The ability to understand the role cultural
prescriptions play in shaping communication.
• Cultures that are more individualistic in nature, such as those of the United
States, Canada, Great Britain, and Germany, stress individual goals.
• Cultures more collectivistic in nature, such as those represented by many
Muslim, African, Asian, and Latin American countries, stress group goals.
• Individualist cultures nurture individual initiative and achievement,
collectivist cultures nurture loyalty to a group. In an individualist culture,
you are responsible for yourself and maybe your immediate family.
• High-context cultures are tradition bound; cultural traditions guide
members’ interactions, causing them to appear to outsiders as overly
polite and indirect in relationships.
6 • Members of low-context cultures, in contrast, usually exhibit a more direct
communication style, one that is verbally explicit.
• Gender: The socially constructed roles and behaviors that the members
of a given society believe to be appropriate for men and women.
• As we become more conscious of arbitrarily created gendered meanings,
we are able to work to reconstruct and broaden our understanding of what
is appropriate behavior and what we accept as “normal.”
• Technology makes it increasingly possible for us to watch and listen to,
introduce ourselves to, and have continuing contact with individuals
across the country and around the world without ever leaving our homes.
• Technology makes it possible to connect without such fear.
• Real life falls short of the lives we encounter either online or via television
• Machines are transforming how we communicate with one another by
increasing connection opportunities.
• Our concept of self—that relatively stable set of perceptions each of us
attributes to ourselves—becomes our most important possession.
• Self-awareness: Personal reflection on and monitoring of one’s own
• Self-concept: The relatively stable set of perceptions one attributes to
• Self-esteem: One’s appraisal of one’s own self-worth.
• Self-image: The mental picture one has of oneself.
• Self-concept affects behavior, including what we think possible
• The words you use to express your self-perceptions reveal what you think
you are like.
• Self-concept is not necessarily the same as the self.
7 • Self-concept is more highly structured and difficult to change.
• A portion of the self-concept may not actually be included in the self; this
area represents the part of ourselves that we invent.
• Self-concept is a “map” that we create to chart the “territory” that is the
• Our reluctance to let go of set ideas allows outmoded notions about the
self to persist. By rejecting such information, we deny ourselves a chance
for growth and self-renewal.
• Refuting new information that could lead us to change only limits us and
obscures our view of how others see us.
• When we achieve or acquire new competencies, our self-esteem grows. In
other words, we build self-esteem when we overcome obstacles, acquire
specific skills or achievements, or are given increased responsibilities.
• When we perceive ourselves as failures, we are more likely to behave in
ways that cause us to fail. When we perceive ourselves as successes, we
are more apt to act confidently and in ways that bring about success.
• When self-esteem is not connected to performance, it can be self-
• High self-esteem may actually increase the tendency to bully.
• The nature of your self is affected by the nature of the situation in which
you are interacting. And your interactions shape your view of your self.
• In a way, you become different selves as you adapt to perceived changes.
• Reflected appraisal theory: A theory that states that the self a person
presents is in large part based on the way others categorize the individual,
the roles they expect him or her to play, and the behaviors or traits they
expect him or her to exhibit.
• We use the views of others to develop our view of ourselves.
• Your perceived self is the image you have of yourself, not the self you
aspire to be.
• We are most comfortable interacting with others we perceive to be like us.
• Our accuracy in assessing our self-concept and self-esteem depends on
8 how successful we are at processing experience and receiving feedback.
• Social comparison theory: A theory affirming that individuals compare
themselves to others to develop a feel for how their talents, abilities, and
qualities measure up.
• Face-work is what you do to protect your self-image by reducing the
negative aspects of yourself that are visible to others.
• Perceived self: A reflection of one’s self- concept; the person one
believes oneself to be when one is being honest with oneself.
• Ideal self: The self one would like to be.
• Impression management: The exercising of control over one’s behaviors
in an effort to make the desired impression.
• Possible self: The self that one might become someday.
• Expected self: The self that others assume one will exhibit.
• Dramaturgical approach to human interaction: A theory, originated by
Erving Goffman, that explains the role that the skillful enacting of
impression management plays in person-to-person interaction.
• Framing- specifically defining a scene or situation in a way that helps
others interpret its meaning in the way we desire.
• Scripting- the identification of each actor’s role in the scene. In effect, we
convince others on the stage with us to play their roles.
• Dialogue—storytelling together with colorful and descriptive language and
effective use of nonverbal cues—to guide the responses of the other
• Exemplification- we serve as an example or act as a role model for
• Promotion- we elucidate our personal skills and accomplishments and/or
a particular vision.
• Face-work- We take steps to protect our image by reducing the negative
aspects of ourselves visible to others
• Ingratiation- we employ techniques of agreement to make others believe
us to be more attractive and likable and less threatening, harmful, or
• It is as if when we think of our future self we are seeing someone other
• Confirmation: A communication that tells another person that his or her
self-image is affirmed.
• If you believe yourself to be intelligent, confirmers might reflect this by
asking you to tutor them.
• Rejection: The negation of or disagreement with a self-appraisal.
• Disconfirmation: Communication that denies another person’s
• Someone who disconfirms you ignores you and goes about her business
as if you were not present.
• Those around us help shape our self-concepts in both positive and
• Self-efficacy: A positive belief in one’s own abilities, competence, and
• Self-fulfilling prophecy: A prediction or expectation that comes true
simply because one acts as if it were true.
• Optimists believe they will succeed and persevere; pessimists tend to give
up when confronted with challenges.
• Our behavior increases the likelihood of an outcome.
Figure 2.2 The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Story
1. We develop expectations of people or events.
2. We express those expectations verbally and/or nonverbally.
3. Others adjust their behavior to match our verbal and/or nonverbal
4. Our expectation becomes reality.
5. The confirmation of our expectation strengthens our original belief.
• Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson in their classic study Pygmalion in
10 the Classroom the way the teachers behaved influenced the students’
perceptions of their own abilities.
• A positive Pygmalion is a person whose positive expectations for you
influence your behavior; the positive expectations you have for yourself
act similarly and are known as the Galatea effect.
• Positive Pygmalion: An individual who positively influences one’s
perceptions of one’s own abilities.
• Negative Pygmalion: An individual who negatively influences one’s
perceptions of one’s own abilities.
• If we wish to change our self-concept, we need to do our part to break with
old ways of thinking.
• When we focus on ourselves, however, we are less likely to notice others’
reactions to us, and we may miss feedback cues revealing how they really
• Just as we can view ourselves more favorably than others do, we can also
be our own worst critics and view ourselves more harshly than is
• Individualistic culture: A culture in which individual identity is paramount.
• Collectivistic cultures: Cultures in which group goals are given a higher
priority than individual goals.
• For the members of collectivistic cultures, the self is not the center of the
universe. For them, the group—not the individual—is the primary social
unit. Where individualistic cultures link success with personal
achievement, collectivistic cultures link it to group cohesion and loyalty.
• Idiocentric orientation: An orientation displayed by people who are
primarily individualistic in their ways of thinking and behaving.
• Allocentric orientation: A perspective displayed by people who are
primarily collectivistic in their thinking and behaving.
• High-context cultures: Cultures in which people tend to be very polite
and indirect when interacting with others.
• Low-context culture: A culture in which people typically exhibit a direct
11 • Power distance: The extent to which individuals are willing to accept
• Persons in low-power positions are very apt to defer automatically to
persons in au