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How to Improve Communication with Interpersonal Insights

Aug 18, 2007
Communication that is interpersonal is the process of sending and receiving messages between two or more people. Examples of interpersonal communication are:

1) a conversation between two people
2) small group communication
3) a speech made to a wide audience.

All these can be considered forms of interpersonal communication. All forms of interpersonal communication rely on a sender (from which a message originates), a message, a communication channel (or medium such as the voice of a person), a receiver, and feedback. Examples of these elements of interpersonal communication may change depending on the situation but it is still interpersonal communication.

When something obstructs the process of interpersonal communication, such as noise, there are negative consequences that result. For example:

1) if the sender finds it difficult to be heard, the receiver may not be able to react to the message being sent.

2) the receiver may not be able to provide necessary feedback to the sender of the message.

This makes interpersonal communication a very important process to follow, regardless of the size of the group involved in interpersonal communication.

What are the ways in which interpersonal communication can break down or be obstructed?

1) Predominance of emotions - the sender may be subconsciously influencing how the message is received because of his emotional state. Or the receiver could be providing emotionally-influenced feedback in return.

2) Filtering - when this problem occurs, the receiver may not get the whole message because the sender has restructured the message to suit his own purposes.

3) Information overload - sometimes, there are senders who provide too much information at one time, making the receiver feel burdened with the size of the message. The receiver may then not be able to respond to the sender.

4) Defensiveness - a receiver who feels threatened by the message could react in a defensive way - even if the sender did not intend to put the receiver on the defensive.

5) Cultural bias - the message of a sender could subconsciously be colored by the cultural perspective maintained by the sender. If the sender and receiver come from different cultures, this could result in communication breakdown.

6) Jargon - a sender should make sure that the receiver can understand him when the sender resorts to using jargon. This is because the sender may wind up being frustrated because the receiver fails to understand him or reacts in an undesirable way.

How does one improve interpersonal communication then?
There are four possible ways:

1) Make messages simpler - do not resort to long messages because this makes it more likely that the message will not get through, be misinterpreted, or simply ignored. Short messages are easier to absorb and react to.

2) Restrain your emotions - if you become emotionally agitated, wait until you have your emotions under control before you send a message or feedback.

3) Listen closely - make it a point to listen well to the person speaking to you. Many cases of breakdown in communication occur because the receiver does not listen closely to the message.

4) Provide sufficient feedback - If you are the receiver, make it a point to assure the sender that you have received the message by providing a summary of what the message was about. This facilitates the communication process even further.

For interpersonal communication, it is important that both sender and receiver make an effort to improve the
communication process. If only one party chooses to make an effort at improving communication, interpersonal communication will still not be achieved. Both parties - the sender and the receiver - have to do their part. Only then will dynamic communication interpersonal be achieved.
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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