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Interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication is not just about what is actually said - the language used - but how it is said and the non-verbal messages sent through tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and body language.

Elements of Interpersonal Communication Generally the elements of interpersonal communication include:

The Communicators

For any communication to occur there must be at least two people involved. 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.

In fact communications are almost always complex, two-way processes, with people sending and receiving messages to and from each other simultaneously. In other words, communication is an interactive process. While one person is talking the other is listening - but while listening they are also sending feedback in the form of smiles, head nods etc. In fact communications are almost always complex, two-way processes, with people sending and receiving messages to and from each other simultaneously.

The Message

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 behaviour 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

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. Whilst physical 'noise' (for example, background sounds or a low-flying jet plane) can interfere with communication, other factors are considered to be ‘noise’. The use of complicated jargon, inappropriate body language, inattention, disinterest, and cultural differences can be considered 'noise' in the context of interpersonal communication.

Feedback

Feedback consists of messages the receiver returns, which allows the sender to know how accurately the message has been received, as well as the receiver's reaction.

Context

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.





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