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MAC 111


to be a leader. For them, groups provide the necessary control over aspects of their lives.

Affection is the need to develop relationships with people. Groups are an excellent way to make friends and establish relationships.

3.2.2 Principles of Interpersonal Communication

Donnel King (2000) identifies four major principles that underlie the workings of interpersonal communication in real life and which cannot be ignored. They are described below:

Interpersonal Communication is Inescapable

The truth is that we can’t but communicate. The very attempt not to communicate communicates something. Through not only words, but through tone of voice and through gesture, posture, facial expression, etc., we constantly communicate to those around us. Through these channels, we constantly receive communication from others. Even when you sleep, you communicate. Remember a basic principle of communication in general: people are not mind readers. Another way to put this is: people judge you by your behaviour, not your intent.

Interpersonal Communication is Irreversible

Interpersonal communication is one way. You can't really take back something once it has been said. The effect must inevitably remain. Despite the instructions from a judge to a jury to "disregard that last statement the witness made," the lawyer knows that it can't help but make an impression on the jury. A Russian proverb says, "Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again."

Interpersonal Communication is Complicated

No form of communication is simple. Because of the number of variables involved, even simple requests are extremely complex. Theorists note that whenever we communicate there are really at least six "people" involved: (1) who you think you are; (2) who you think the other person is; (3) who you think the other person thinks you are; (4) who the other person thinks /she is;( 5) who the other person thinks you are; and (6) who the other person thinks you think s/he is.

We don't actually swap ideas, we swap symbols that stand for ideas. This also complicates communication. Words (symbols) do not have inherent meaning; we simply use them in certain ways, and no two people use the same word exactly alike.


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Osmo Wiio gives us some communication maxims similar to Murphy's law (Osmo Wiio, Wiio's Laws--and Some Others (Espoo, Finland: Welin-Goos, 1978) :

If communication can fail, it will.

If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.

There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.

The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.

These tongue-in-cheek maxims are not real principles; they simply humorously remind us of the difficulty of accurate communication.

Interpersonal Communication is Contextual

In other words, communication does not happen in isolation. There is:

1.Psychological context, which is who you are and what you bring to the interaction. Your needs, desires, values, personality, etc., all form the psychological context. ("You" here refers to both participants in the interaction.)

2.Relational context, which concerns your reactions to the other person--the "mix."

3.Situational context deals with the psycho-social "where" in which you are communicating. An interaction that takes place in a classroom will be very different from one that takes place in a bar.

4.Environmental context deals with the physical "where" in which you are communicating. Furniture, location, noise level, temperature, season, time of day, all are examples of factors in the environmental context.

5.Cultural context includes all the learned behaviors and rules that affect the interaction. If you come from a culture (foreign or within your own country) where it is considered rude to make long, direct eye contact, you will out of politeness avoid eye contact. If the other person comes from a culture where long, direct eye contact signals trustworthiness, then we have in the cultural context a basis for misunderstanding.


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3.2.3 Types of Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication has three major types. They include:

1.Dyadic communication,

2.Public speaking, and

3.Small-group communication.


Dyadic communication is simply a method of communication that only involves two people such as a telephone conversation or even a set of letters sent to and received from a pen pal. In this communication process, the sender can immediately receive and evaluate feedback from the receiver. So that, it allows for more specific tailoring of the message and more personal communication than do many of the other media.

3.2.4 Basic Elements in Interpersonal Communication

The basic elements involved in interpersonal communication process are:

1.Sender; person who sends information.

2.Receiver: person who receives the information sent.

3.Message: content of information sent by sender.

4.Feedback: response from receiver.

The diagram above graphically depicts the four basic elements of communication mentioned above. The two human beings standing at the extreme ends (left and right) represent the sender and receiver of the message respectively. The two arrows equally show the direction of the messages as sent by the two human beings at the extreme ends.


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3.2.5 Barriers against Effective Interpersonal Communication


Sometimes when people communicate an idea or matter across, the receiver can feel how the sender perceives the subject matter. Often messages are interpreted differently for different people. Extreme emotions are most likely to hinder effective communication because the idea or message may be misinterpreted. It's always best to avoid responding or reacting to the subject matter when you're upset or angry because most of the time, you'll not be able to think in a clear manner.


This is where the sender manipulates the information that he communicates to the receiver. The purpose of this is because sometimes people would shape and reform the message so that it appears and sounds favourable to the receiver. Filtering information may mislead the receiver into thinking something favourable and the let down may be upsetting if it is found out that information has been filtered.

Overloaded with Information

Too much information about the same subject matter may be confusing. For example, you have 50 e-mails on the same subject matter, each e- mail contains a little part of the subject matter. It would be better to have one e-mail from the sender which includes all the information in clear and simple form with only the information that you asked for. Normally, the human brain can only take in so much information to process, overloading it with information will exceed our human processing capacity, and the receiver would misunderstand or not understand at all what the sender is telling them.


Humans tend to refuse for a mutual understanding when they feel that they are being threatened or are put in a position in which they are at a disadvantage. Defensiveness normally consists of attacking what the sender tells you, putting out sarcastic remarks, questioning their motives or being overly judgmental about the subject matter.

Cultural Difference

Sometimes our culture may be a huge hinderance for effective interpersonal communication. When two people with different cultures


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