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MAC 111









3.0Main Content

3.1Intra-Personal Communication

3.2Inter-Personal Communication

3.3Inter-Personal Communication and Relationship



6.0Tutor–Marked Assignment

7.0References/Further Readings


This unit examines the features of intrapersonal communication. This is done under the following subtitles:

1.Definition of intrapersonal communication;

2.Various kinds of intrapersonal communication;

3.Definitions and concept of interpersonal communication

4.The place of relationship in interpersonal communication


At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

explain the concept of intrapersonal communication

identify and describe the various kinds of interpersonal communication

explain what the concept of interpersonal communication is and what it is not

explain the place of relationship in interpersonal communication.


Contexts of Communication

Contexts here mean the different levels at which communication occurs. It can also be referred to as the kinds of communication that are available. Under context of communication, we have the following:

I.Intra-personal and Interpersonal Communication


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II.Group Communication

III.Public Communication


Mass Communication

3.1Intra-Personal Communication

This is essentially a neuro-physiological activity which involves some mental interviews for the purposes of information processing and decision making. The basic operations of intrapersonal communication are to convert raw data from environment to information; to interprete and give meaning to that information and to use such meaning. In other words, it is communication that occurs within you.

Because intrapersonal communication is centered in the self, you are the sender and the receiver. The message is made up of your thoughts and feelings and the channel is your brain, which processes what you are thinking and feeling. There is also feedback because you talk to yourself, you discard certain ideals and replace them with others.

Intrapersonal communication is language use or thought internal to the communicator. Intrapersonal communication is the active internal involvement of the individual in symbolic processing of messages. The individual becomes his or her own sender and receiver, providing feedback to him or herself in an ongoing internal process. It can be useful to envision intrapersonal communication occurring in the mind of the individual in a model which contains a sender, receiver, and feedback loop.

Although successful communication is generally defined as being between two or more individuals, issues concerning the useful nature of communicating with oneself and problems concerning communication with non-sentient entities such as computers have made some argue that this definition is too narrow.

Kinds of Intrapersonal Communication

Below are the different kinds of intrapersonal communication:

Writing (by hand, or with a word processor, etc.) one's thoughts or observations: the additional activities, on top of thinking, of writing and reading back may again increase self-understanding ("How do I know what I mean until I see what I say?") and concentration. It aids ordering one's thoughts; in addition it produces a record that can be used later again. Copying text to aid memorizing also falls in this category.


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Making gestures while thinking: the additional activity, on top of thinking, of body motions, may again increase concentration, assist in problem solving, and assist memory.

Sense-making e.g. interpreting maps, texts, signs, and symbols

Interpreting non-verbal communication e.g. gestures, eye contact

Communication between body parts; e.g. "My stomach is telling me it's time for lunch."


Nocturnal dreaming, including and especially lucid dreaming

Speaking aloud (talking to oneself), reading aloud, repeating what one hears; the additional activities of speaking and hearing (in the third case of hearing again) what one thinks, reads or hears may increase concentration and retention. This is considered normal, and the extent to which it occurs varies from person to person. The time when there should be concern is when talking to oneself occurs outside of socially acceptable situations.


Intrapersonal communication is more than just thinking. Intrapersonal communication is how one communicates with oneself. It includes the concepts of inner speech. Explain.

3.2Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal Communication occurs when you communicate on a one-to-one basis usually in an informal, unstructured setting. It occurs mostly between two people, though it may include more than two. Each participant functions as a sender-receiver; their messages consist of both verbal and non-verbal symbols and the channels used mostly are sight and sound. It also offers the greatest opportunity for feedback.

To better understand the concept of interpersonal communication, one needs to compare it to other forms of communication. In so doing, one would examine how many people are involved, how physically close they are to one another, how many sensory channels are used, and the feedback provided. Interpersonal communication differs from other forms of communication in that there are few participants involved, the interactants are in close physical proximity to each other, there are many sensory channels used, and feedback is immediate.

Another way to understand the concept of intrapersonal communication is through the developmental view. From this view, interpersonal communication is defined as communication that occurs between people who have known each other for some time. Importantly, these people


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view each other as unique individuals, not as people who are simply acting out social situations.

3.2.1 Functions of Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is desirous for many reasons.

To Gain Information

People engage in interpersonal communication to gain knowledge about another individual. Social Penetration Theory says that we attempt to gain information about others so that we can interact with them more effectively. We can better predict how they will think, feel, and act if we know who they are. We gain this information passively, by observing them; actively, by having others engage them; or interactively, by engaging them ourselves. Self-disclosure is often used to get information from another person.

To Build a Context of Understanding

Another reason why people engage in interpersonal communication is to help them better understand what someone says in a given context. The words we say can mean very different things depending on how they are said or in what context. Content Messages refer to the surface level meaning of a message. Relationship Messages refer to how a message is said. The two are sent simultaneously, but each affects the meaning assigned to the communication. Interpersonal communication helps us understand each other better.

To Establish Identity

Another reason we engage in interpersonal communication is to establish an identity. The roles we play in our relationships help us establish identity. So too does the face, the public self-image we present to others. Both roles and face are constructed based on how we interact with others.

Interpersonal Needs

Finally, we engage in interpersonal communication because we need to express and receive interpersonal needs. William Schutz has identified three such needs: inclusion, control, and affection.

Inclusion is the need to establish identity with others.

Control is the need to exercise leadership and prove one's abilities. Groups provide outlets for this need. Some individuals do not want


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