Professor Colangelo

SPCH 1318 Interpersonal Communication


Chapter #1: The Nature of Communication

I.                    Why we communicate: To satisfy needs (Maslowís Hiearchy of Needs)

A.     Physical needs

B.     Safety needs

C.    Belonging needs

D.    Self-Esteem needs

E.     Self-Actualization needs

II.                  Definitions of Communication

A.     The process of human beings responding to the symbolic behavior of other persons (Understanding Human Communication, Adler & Rodman)

B.     An ongoing, transactional process in which individuals exchange messages whose meanings are influenced by the history of the relationship and the experiences of the participants (Interplay Adler,

III.          The Process of Communication

A.     Sender encodes ideas & feelings into symbols (words or behaviors) to send a message (the meaning of the symbols) by verbal or nonverbal channels to a receiver who decodes the message and sends feedback.

B.     Each communicator brings their own field of experience to every conversation in that our personal experiences and cultural background, mood at the time, and the nature of our relationship with others influence how we interpret what others say and do.

C.    Anything that interferes with effective communication is called noise (external, physiological, and psychological)

D.    Communication occurs when you reach shared understanding of the message (i.e. interpret the intended meaning of the symbols in context).

IV.               Transactional Nature of Communication

A.     We are simultaneously senders and receivers

1.      We're not just a sender or a receiver: We're both at the same time.

2.      While we are talking to someone, we watch their nonverbals for feedback about what we're saying.

3.      They may not be consciously trying to send us a message, but we're interpreting messages nonetheless.

4.      We can immediately respond to their feedback and change our response based on our interpretation of their nonverbal feedback.

B.     We mutually influence each other in interaction

1.      Communication isn't something we do to others; we do it with them.

a)        Communication depends on the involvement of a partner.

b)        Our success depends on interaction with others (not funny if no one laughs)

2.      Communication is relational

a)        The quality of interaction between people is a two-way affair

b)        How you act toward others affects how they act toward you.

3.      However, it is a mistake to suggest that just one person is responsible for a relationship or an interaction.

a)        Many factors play a role in how others will react: their mood, personality, relational history, their cognitive complexity.

b)        No event occurs in a vacuum

C.    Meanings are influenced by our cultural background, our experiences, our mood, and the history of the relationship

1.      The meaning of words and nonverbal behaviors lies in people

2.      Depending on an individual's cultural rules, experience with college classroom behavior, mood at the time, and the nature of their relationship with you, people will assign different meanings to the same word or nonverbal behavior.

a)        Nonverbal Example: Imagine the different interpretations people would have for your behavior if you yawned loudly during a lecture.

b)        Word Example: Imagine the different interpretations of the word ďchillĒ from an elderly personís perspective versus that of a young adult.

V.                 Communication Operates on Two levels

A.     Whenever people communicate, they exchange two kinds of messages

1.      Content Messages: Focus on subject being discussed

2.      Relational Messages: Make statements about how we feel about each other or who we are to each other (I like you vs. I donít like you; Iím superior vs. Iím inferior, etc.)

B.     Relational Messages reflect our Social Needs (CAIRI)

1.      Control: The distribution of power between people or ability to influence the other person or the situation

2.      Affection: How much people like each other

3.      Inclusion: Degree of desired involvement with others

4.      Respect: How much you expect from others and self-esteem

5.      Identity: How you see yourself and how you want others to see you

C.    Usually unaware of relational messages because they meet expectations for appropriate amount of control, affection, inclusion, respect, & identity.

1.      Relational messages are usually expressed nonverbally

2.      Perception-check relational messages to prevent a needless fight

VI.               Principles of Communication

A.     Communication is Unavoidable

1.      You cannot not communicate.

a)        Facial expression, posture, gesture, clothing, etc. offer cues

b)        Remember to consider the unintentional messages you send

2.      Not all behavior is meant to communicate a message (the meaning)

a)        Intended Message: Your interpretation of the symbols; the meaning you intended (e.g. "When I said "phat" I meant "you look great!")

b)        Unintended Message: The receiver's interpretation of the symbols; The meaning of your words & nonverbals per the receiver; The result of misinterpretation or when others assign meaning to your nonverbals without your awareness (e.g. criminals look for people who walk without being aware of their surroundings because they make easier victims)

c)        Behavior: Nonverbal actions not meant to convey a message (thought, idea, or identity); & might not have clear meaning

B.     Communication is Irreversible

1.      You cannot take back that which is already said

2.      People may forgive, but they don't forget

C.    Communication is Not a Cure-All

1.      Talking won't always get you what you want

2.      Misunderstandings and ill feelings occur when people communicate badly

3.      Communication won't solve all problems: People will still disagree