We all need a few guidelines and steps to know how interpersonal communication works. Remember, it's a combination of verbal, non-verbal, formal, non-formal, and even business communication.
In an article I read the other day, it broke down the elements of what interpersonal communication is. It helped me to understand just how it effects my day and how I need to be aware of refining this skill set.
It is easy to think about communication involving a sender and a receiver of a message. However, the problem with this way of seeing a relationship is that it presents communication as a one-way process where one person sends the message and the other receives it. While one person is talking and another is listening, for example.
Message not only means the speech used or information conveyed, but also the non-verbal messages exchanged such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures and body language. Non-verbal behavior can convey additional information about the spoken message. In particular, it can reveal more about emotional attitudes which may underlie the content of speech.
Noise has a special meaning in communication theory. It refers to anything that distorts the message, so that what is received is different from what is intended by the speaker.
Feedback allows the sender to regulate, adapt or repeat the message in order to improve communication. Our pages: Clarification and Reflecting describe common ways to offer feedback in communication, our page: Active Listening describes the process of listening attentively.
All communication is influenced by the context in which it takes place. However, apart from looking at the situational context of where the interaction takes place, for example in a room, office, or perhaps outdoors, the social context also needs to be considered, for example the roles, responsibilities and relative status of the participants.
The channel refers to the physical means by which the message is transferred from one person to another. In face-to-face context the channels which are used are speech and vision, however during a telephone conversation the channel is limited to speech alone.
Each of these elements come in to play more often than you realize. It's like one of the involuntary things that happen while you're heart is pumping, you're breathing, you're nerves system talking. (Okay, crazy comparison I know... but it's true!) We are constantly using the above interpersonal skills, but they way to make them enhance and refine them is to be well aware of how they function and play an intricate role together as a unit.
Be sure to go read the full article – it's good stuff!