Ch 1 outline - Beebe

After studying this chapter, students should be able to:
Compare and contrast definitions of communication, human communication, and
interpersonal communication.
Explain why it is useful to study interpersonal communication.
Compare and contrast communication as action, interaction, and transaction.
Describe the key components of the communication process.
Discuss the Internet’s role in developing the maintaining interpersonal relationships.
Discuss five principles of interpersonal relationships.
Describe four interpersonal communication myths.
Identify strategies that can improve communication competence.
Defining Interpersonal Communication: Communication, human communication, and
interpersonal communication are defined and contrasted. Interpersonal communication is
discussed as a distinctive form of communication that involves simultaneous interaction between
individuals with mutual influence in order to manage our relationships.
The Importance of Interpersonal Communication: Interpersonal communication
permeates our lives. Being skilled in interpersonal communication can improve your
relationships with family, friends and lovers, and work and school colleagues, as well as improve
your physical and emotional health.
An Evolving Model for Human and Interpersonal Communication: Three models for
understanding communication are outlined within an historical perspective. Message Transfer
models focus on the actions involved in communication. Message Exchange models introduce
the concepts of feedback and context to emphasize a less static and more interactive perspective.
Message Creation models introduce the notion of “simultaneous” interaction involving mutual
and concurrent sharing of ideas and feelings.
Mediated Interpersonal Communication: Relating to Others Online: Today,
technology has allowed various types of media to be used to transmit interpersonal messages.
Mediated messages can be challenging to interpret because they contain a reduced level of
nonverbal cues due to the lack of ability to hear or see the other person. Over time, a careful
analysis of the language choices can reveal more about the relational content. Social information
processing theory explains how quality relationships can be formed via Email and other
electronic means with the main difference being the rate of information you receive. One way to
view mediated communication is according to the “richness of the channel” being used.
Chapter 1 - Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
Principles of Interpersonal Communication: Underlying our understanding of
interpersonal communication are five principles: Interpersonal communication connects us to
others, is irreversible, is complicated, is governed by rules, and involves both content and
relationship dimensions.
Interpersonal Communication Myths: There are several myths about interpersonal
communication we may need to “unlearn.” More communication will not solve all problems;
there is a time to stop talking and listen. Meanings are in the people with whom we are trying to
communicate, not in the words we use. Our interpretations may be different from one another.
Passing along information is not the same as communicating. All interpersonal problems are not
the result of poor communication.
How to Improve Your Own Interpersonal Communication Competence: Five
principles are offered, including: knowing how communication works; developing
communication skills; increasing motivation to use the skills effectively; increasing
communication options and communication flexibility; being sensitive to the needs of others in
being ethical; and decreasing self-focus through other-orientation and empathy.
(All key terms appear in bold)
I. Defining Interpersonal Communication
• Human communication is at the core of our existence.
• Communication is the process of acting on information.
• Human communication is the process of making sense out of the world and attempting
to share that sense with others.
• Interpersonal communication is the process of interacting simultaneously with another
person and mutually influencing each other, usually for the purpose of managing
A. Interpersonal communication is a distinctive form of communication
1. There is a continuum running from impersonal communication, which
occurs when you treat people as objects or relate to them as roles, to
interpersonal communication that occurs when you treat others as unique and
relate to them as authentic individuals.
2. Impersonal communication involves an “I-It” relationship where you have a
role to perform and there is mechanical, stilted interaction.
3. Interpersonal communication involves an “I-Thou” relationship that is true
dialogue and honest sharing.
4. It is unrealistic to think that all communication will be interpersonal.
B. Interpersonal communication involves mutual influence between individuals
1. All partners are affected by the interactions.
2. The degree of mutual influence varies a great deal from interaction to
C. Interpersonal communication helps individuals manage their relationships.
1. Interpersonal relationships are defined as the ongoing connections we make
with others through interpersonal communication.
2. Interpersonal communication is distinct from other forms of communication.
a. Mass communication occurs when one person issues the same message
to many people at once.
The creator of the message is usually not present.
There is virtually no opportunity for listeners to respond to the
TV and radio messages are good examples of mass communication.
b. Public communication occurs when a speaker addresses a large audience
in person.
c. Small group communication occurs when a group of three to fifteen
people meet to interact with a common purpose and mutually influence
one another.
The goal could be to solve a problem, make a decision, or just have
It is possible to communicate with others interpersonally while
communicating with others in the group.
d. Intrapersonal communication is communication with yourself; thinking.
II. The Importance of Interpersonal Communication
A. Understanding interpersonal communication can improve relationships with family
1. Communicating with our family members and loved ones is the fundamental
way of establishing close, personal relationships with them.
2. You can develop more options for how to respond when family
communication challenges occur.
3. Virginia Satir calls family communication “the largest single factor
determining the kinds of relationships [we make] with others.”
B. Understanding interpersonal communication can improve relationships with friends
and lovers
1. Unmarried people have reported that developing friendships and falling in
love are the top-rated sources of satisfaction and happiness.
2. Losing a relationship is among the most stressful experiences.
3. Individuals between the ages of 19 and 24 years report having already had
five to six romantic relationships and to have been in love once or twice.
4. Studying interpersonal communication can offer insight into our behaviors in
friendship, romance, and love.
C. Understanding interpersonal communication can improve relationships with
1. Colleagues at work are like family members.
2. Understanding how relationships develop at work can help you avoid conflict
and stress and increase your sense of satisfaction.
3. Success and promotions often hinge upon how well we relate with supervisors
and peers.
4. The abilities to listen to others, mange conflict, and develop quality
interpersonal relationships with others are usually at the top of the list of skills
that employers are seeking.
Chapter 1 - Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
D. Understanding interpersonal communication can improve physical and emotional
1. Widowed or divorced patients experience more medical problems than do
married people.
a) Grief-stricken spouses are more likely than others to die prematurely,
especially around the time of the departed spouse’s birthday or their
b) Childless, middle-aged wives were almost two and one-half times
more likely to die in any given year than those who had at least one child.
c) Terminally ill patients with limited social support die sooner than
those with stronger ties to friendships.
2. Connectedness heals. Support from people who care about us helps us become
well adjusted to adversity in life.
III. An Evolving Model for Human and Interpersonal Communication: Models are useful in
helping us understand complex processes. Three models are discussed in order of oldest
to newest.
A. Human Communication as Action: The Message Transfer
1. The linear input/output process is defined by key components, including
a) Source — the originator of a thought or emotion, who puts it into a
code that can be understood by a receiver.
b) Channel — the pathways through which messages are sent.
c) Noise — the interferences that keeps a message from being understood
and achieving its intended effect.
(1) Literal noise can be actual noise like the roar of a plane.
(2) Psychological noise can be internal such as distracting thoughts
that keep you from concentrating on the message.
d) Encode — to translate ideas, thoughts, and feelings into a code.
e) Decode — to interpret ideas, feelings, and thoughts that have been
translated into a code.
f) Receiver — person who decodes the message and attempts to make
sense of what the source has encoded.
g) Message — written spoken and unspoken elements of communication
to which people assign meaning.
2. This model is simple and straightforward, but overlooks the complexities of
real-life human communication.
B. Human Communication as Interaction: Message Exchange
1. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, two new components were added to the earlier
model: feedback and context.
2. Feedback emphasizes a response to a message sent.
a) Could be verbal or nonverbal.
b) Could be intended or unintended.
3. Context emphasizes the importance of the particular environment within which
the communication takes place.
a) All communication takes place within a context.
b) Context encompasses the physical environment, the number of people
present, the relationship between communicators, the communication goal,
and the impact of culture.
4. This model is more realistic because of the addition of feedback and context.
5. The model is limited because it characterizes communication as a linear, stepby-
step sequence rather than a simultaneous process.
C. Human Communication as Transaction: Message Creation
1. Most scholars view this as the most realistic model for interpersonal
2. Employs the same components as the other models.
3. Adds the notion of simultaneous interaction of components. As we talk, we
also interpret verbal and nonverbal responses.
4. Based on systems theory: Theory that describes the interconnected elements
of a system in which a change in one element affects all of the other elements.
5. Communication is the “coordinated management of meaning” through
episodes: sequences of interaction between individuals during which the message
of one person influences the message of another.
IV. Mediated Interpersonal Communication: Relating to Others Online
A. Mediated interpersonal communication is communication with others established
or maintained through media (such as Email, telephones, or faxes) rather than through
face-to-face encounters.
B. New technologies expand the traditional “face-to-face” interaction aspect of the
definition of interpersonal communication.
1. An assortment of new devices allows us to communicate interpersonally as well
as impersonally, including telephone, fax, Email, and electronic chat rooms on the
C. Mediated interpersonal communication has four key differences from live, face-to-face
1. Anonymity – You may not always know whom you are communicating with.
2. Less emphasis on physical appearance
3. Typically a greater distance between people communicating online.
4. Communication can be asynchronous – which means your messages are not
necessarily read, heard, or seen at the time you send them.
D. Research finds a correlation between social interaction and Internet use.
1. Cues-filtered-out-theory suggested that emotional expression is severely
restricted when we communicate online because sending text messages via the
Internet filters out nonverbal cues such as facial expression, gestures, and tone of
2. Social information-processing theory suggests that we can communicate
relational and emotional message via the Internet, but it just may take longer to
express messages that are typically communicated with facial expressions and
tone of voice.
E. Media can be measured as “communication rich” or “communication lean” based on
four criteria.
1. The amount of feedback the communicators can receive.
2. The number of cues the channel can convey and that can be interpreted by a
Chapter 1 - Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
3. The variety of language that communicators use.
4. The potential for expressing emotions and feelings.
5. Some evidence suggests that you will choose a less rich communication
channel to convey a negative message and a more rich channel to convey a
positive message.
V. Principles of Interpersonal Communication
A. Interpersonal communication connects us to others.
1. It is through inescapable interpersonal communication with others that we
affect and are affected by other human beings.
2. The quality of interpersonal relationships stems from the quality of
communication with others.
3. Communication is inescapable since it occurs even when you are not
conscious of what you are doing.
4. People judge you by your behavior, not your intent.
B. Interpersonal communication is irreversible.
1. Our communication with others is irreversible.
2. Communication continues to be shaped by events, thoughts, and experiences
of communication partners.
3. You can never “take it back.”
C. Interpersonal communication is complicated.
1. Whenever you communicate with someone, there are at least six “people”
a) Who you think you are;
b) Who you think the other person is;
c) Who you think the other person thinks you are;
d) Who the other person thinks he or she is;
e) Who the other person thinks you are; and
f) Who the other person thinks you think he or she is.
2. Humans use symbols to communicate.
a) Symbols are words, sounds, or visual devices that represent a thought,
concept, or object.
b) Symbols can have various meanings and interpretations as they are
merely a representation of something else.
c) In English, symbols do not resemble the word they represent.
D. Interpersonal communication is governed by rules.
1. A rule is a followable prescription that indicates what behavior is obligated,
preferred, or prohibited in certain communication situations or contexts.
a) Rules may be explicit or implicit.
b) Rules help us to define appropriate and inappropriate communication
in a given situation.
c) Rules are developed by those involved in the interaction and by the
culture in which they are communicating.
d) Rules are mutually defined and agreed upon and are mutually
renegotiated as the relationship develops.
2. There are some general rules for relationship development and maintenance
(research by Michael Argyle and colleagues).
a) Partners should respect the other’s privacy.
b) Partners should not reveal each other’s secrets.
c) Partners should look the other person in the eye during conversation.
d) Partners should not criticize the other person publicly.
3. Interpersonal rules are learned from observing and interacting with family
members and friends.
E. Interpersonal communication involves both content and relationship dimensions.
1. Content refers to the information, ideas, and suggested actions the speaker
wishes to share: it is what is said.
2. The relationship dimension of the message is more implied and offers cues
about the emotion, attitudes, and amount of power and control the speaker feels:
it is how the message is communicated.
3. Metacommunication is communication about communication.
a) Accurately decoding these unspoken or even verbalized metamessages
helps you understand what people really mean.
VI. Interpersonal Communication Myths
A. Myth: “More words will make the meaning clearer.”
1. Piling more words on your communication partner when they are confused,
hurt, or angry may make the situation worse.
2. It may be more useful to stop, listen, or ask a question rather than continue to
B. Myth: “Meanings are in words.”
1. A word by itself has no meaning.
2. Differences in culture, education, background and experience may mean that
symbols have different meanings to difference people.
3. Meanings are in the people, not the words.
C. Myth: “Information equals communication.”
1. The process of encoding and decoding information may mean that
communication has not happened.
2. Sharing information is not the same as creating meaning.
D. Myth: “Interpersonal relationship problems are always communication problems.”
1. Not all conflict is the result of misunderstanding.
2. Other explanations may include self centered communicators, people who do
not like each other, or people who disagree.
3. Learning principles and skills does not guarantee that all interpersonal
relationship problems will be solved.
VII. How to Improve Your Own Interpersonal Communication Competence
A. The communibiological approach to communication is a theoretical perspective that
suggests people’s communication behavior can be predicted based on personal traits and
characteristics that result from their genetic or biological background.
B. While biology may play a role in how we behave, social learning theory suggests we
can learn how to adapt and adjust our behavior toward others.
1. Competent communication should be effective.
a) Your message is understood.
b) Your message achieves its intended effect.
2. Competent communication should be appropriate.
Chapter 1 - Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
a) Your message should consider time, place, and the overall context of
your message.
b) Your message should be sensitive to the feelings and attitudes of the
3. Communication competence is a concept based on privilege.
a) There is no single best way to communicate with others.
b) We must consider the social and historical context in order to evaluate
communication competence.
C. The authors suggest a six part strategy for becoming a more competent
1. Become knowledgeable: You must know how interpersonal communication
works by learning theories, principles, concepts, and rules.
2. Become skilled: You must translate that knowledge into social skills.
a) Learning skills requires breaking it down into subskills you can learn
and practice; Four steps: Hear it, see it, do it, and correct it.
b) Skills require practice.
3. Become motivated: You must want to use your information and skill.
4. Become flexible: You must assess each unique situation and adapt your
behavior to achieve the desired outcome.
5. Become ethical: You must become sensitive to the needs of others and offer
choices for their behavior.
a) Ethics are the beliefs, values, and moral principles by which people
determine what is right or wrong.
b) Ethical communicators seek to establish trust and reduce interpersonal
6. Become an other-oriented communicator: You must consider the thoughts,
needs, experiences, personality, feelings, motives, desires, culture, and goals of
your communication partner.
a) Sometimes we are egocentric communicators: we create messages
without giving much thought to the person who is listening.
b) Speaking without thinking may occur when we need to purge
ourselves or to confirm our sense of self importance.
1). It may undermine our relationships with others.
2). We can adapt by asking questions, finding topics of mutual
interest, selecting meaningful examples, and avoiding topics that
are uncomfortable for our communication partner.
3). Adaptation does not mean we only tell others what they want
to hear: this is unethical.
c) Other-oriented communication suggests that you:
1). Consider the needs, goals, desires, and motives of your partner.
2). Consider the timing and location of your messages with regard
to the other.
d) Other-orientation is a collection of essential communication skills.
1). Accurately understanding yourself.
2). Accurately perceiving yourself and others.
3). Adapting to those different from yourself (age, culture, gender,
and so on.)
4). Developing positive, healthy attitudes about others.