Interpersonal Communication NOTES
Why study communication?
• You get a new look at the familiar topic.
• We spent so much time communicating
• We can all benefit from increased effectiveness.
Why do we communicate?
• To address our physical needs: life/death, emotions, at the hospitals.
• To find our swag/identity: introducing yourself, analyzing oneself, find/ discover our
o We often rank ourselves in terms of where we stand in society.
• To satisfy our social needs: make connections through language.
• Practical needs: solving problems, direction
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: (from best to worst)
• Self-actualization: feeling individuated in the fullest sense; completeness
• Esteem: self-esteem, respect from others, confidence
• Love/belonging: friendship + family
• Safety: security of body + family
• Physiological: sex, like
• Early models:
o Linear, one-way event. Sender communicates to another person.
• Later models:
o Tennis game: senders and receivers exchange messages.
• The transactional Model of communication:
o The person communicating is the sender. The listener is also the sender in terms
of how much attention is given to the speaker (i.e. eye contact, dozing off, etc…) o Communicators send/receive messages simultaneously.
o Meanings exist in and among people.
o Communicators bring unique environments.
o What are the three types of noise and how do they affect communication?
o What is a channel and how does the choice of channel make a difference in
1. Whereabouts of one’s communication. It can be personal (talking in
rl), no so (phone), nawh (online)
2. Tones, attitude, meaning, intimacy.
Communication principles – guiding our understanding of communication
• Communication is transactional: mutual influence, interdependent behaviors, uniquely
• Content and relational dimension: conveying your attitude, how you feel about one
• Intentional vs. Unintentional
• Irreversible: people will always remember
• Unrepeatable: repeating yourself won’t convey different messages for the listener.
Are Statements About Communication Always True?
• All communication seeks understanding
• More communication is always better.
Qualitative interpersonal communication VS. less personal exchanges
3. Interdependence: having an impact on a person 4. Disclosure: sharing something personal (can be intentional or unintentional); vulnerability
5. Intrinsic rewards:
A matter of balance between personal and impersonal communication:
• Sometimes difficult to classify interactions as strictly personal or impersonal
• All interactions have varying degrees of impersonal or personal elements
• Involves effectiveness and appropriate
• A competent communicator effectively communicates when he/she sends the message
• A competent communicator appropriately communicates when he/she speaks formally
• There is no single ideal or effective way to communicate. (i.e. introverts and extroverts)
• Competence is situational;
Characteristics of Competent Communicators
• A large repertoire of skills
• Ability to perform skillfully
• Empathy (putting yourself in another’s shoes)/ perspective taking
• Cognitive complexity
• Self-monitoring (being able to adjust behavior/ tone to achieve whatever you want to
Fundamentals of Culture
• Culture: there are 500 possible definitions.
o Working definition: “The language, values, beliefs, traditions, and customs people
share and learn.”
Traditions are self-expression of a culture Beliefs are how they go about living life
Customs are how we distinguish between cultures
Bound by perception and definition
In-group: people who are of your culture
Degrees of Cultural Significance
• Least intercultural: cultural difference means little.
• Most intercultural: differences, backgrounds, and beliefs are noteworthy.
• Salience: the weight we attach to a particular person or phenomenon.
Cultural differences as Generalizations
• Cultural practices aren’t totally different.
• There are similarities than differences among humans
• Sometimes, greater differences exist within cultures than between cultures
High VS. Low-Context Cultures
• Anthropologist Edward T. Hall:
o Low-context culture – language expresses thoughts, feelings, and ideas as
directly as possible
o High-context culture – relies heavily on subtle, often nonverbal cues to main
• How do these cultural norms impact communication?
• How do low-context cultures communicate?
o Low-context cultures will talk around the subject.
Individualism VS Collectivism
• Individualistic culture: primary responsibility is to help oneself. • Collectivism culture: loyalties and obligations to the in-group, extended family,
community, or work organization, making everyone feel good.
• Power distance: a degree to which members of a society accept an unequal distribution
• How is power distance identified in different cultures? Morals and language
• How does power distance impact personal relationship in low- or high-context cultures?
• Uncertainty Avoidance: How one behaves when one is surprised. The degree to which
members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous situations and how much they try to
Achievement VS Nurturing
• Achievement: societies that place a high value on material success and focus on the
task at hand.
• Nurturing: cultures that regard the support of relationships as an especially important
Section 3: Codes and Culture
• Verbal codes – language affects expression of identity
• Minority speakers either assimilate or refuse to accommodate
• Individualist orientation: own name first.
• Collectivist orientation: own name last.
Verbal Communication Styles
• Three important differences: directness and indirectness.
• Elaborateness and succinctness
• Formality and informality
• Nonverbal codes – people of all cultures convey messages through facial expressions
and gesture. • What cultures have large “personal space” zone? In the west there are four zones:
“intimate zone (18inches), personal zone (arm’s length), social zone, public zone
• Translation – potential for misunderstanding is always present
• Attribution Variations: we form some sort of interpretation of what others’ words and
o Ambiguous behavior is challenging
• Patterns of thought: affected by systems of logic
Developing Intercultural Communication Competence
• Motivation and attitude
o Desire alone is not enough
o Culture-general attitudes needed
• Tolerance for ambiguity
o Living with uncertainty
o Beware of ethnocentrism
• Knowledge and skill
o Passive observation
o Active strategies learning
o Use appropriate self-disclosure.
Social Media in a Changing World – characteristics of social media
Differences in Communication via Social Media
• Message richness • Hyperpersonal communication
• Asynchronous communication vs synchronous communication: IM, Tweet, Email.
• Permanence of digital messages.
Mediated Communication and Relational Quality
o Lacks richness
o Discourages community