Shared background and knowledge essay

Interpersonal communication is the type of communication that involves two people or parties who are interdependent and have a shared background and knowledge. It is also known as dyadic communication because two people are the basis of interpersonal communication. It differs with other forms of communication in that it has few participants with a minimum of two and utilizes a close proximity and has many sensory channels. (Spitzberg 34-45) Interpersonal communication like any other form of communication is contextual and its feed back is immediate.

Interpersonal communication can also be defined as the kind of communication that involves people known well to each other over along period of time. Communication models try to describe the process of communication and the stages it takes from the sender to the receiver. Communication originates from the source then proceeds to the encoder which then relays message to the decoder then to the receiver. In all these stages, the message passes through a channel. Between the sender and the receiver the message can be distorted by noise or the distance between the two.

This study involve creating a situation in which I broke an interpersonal communication expectation of my communicating partner. The situation occurred when a workmate made an open request for money from me as his boss in a manner that I thought he had infringed on my professional limits. Although he was my age mate, depending on what he said and where he said it radically changed my perception on him having been my friend for a while. I failed to respond to his request and pulled out of the scenario.

Before this, we had been relating very well with shared understanding and meaning. Interpersonal communication has a number of concepts which determine its success. Self concept is a very important determinant of successful interpersonal communication. It stands for who one is and the role he/she takes in a communication process. (Watzlawick 150-155) One’s self concept goes hand in hand with ones real life. The way we perceive ourselves to be is very important in what we involve ourselves in on daily basis.

Therefore, self concept and personal perception are directly linked and are thought to play a very important role in interpersonal communication. Perception is the way we understand and interpret what we see, think, smell, hear and touch. In this communication incidence, my self concept played a very important role in making a decision that did not meet the expectation of my communicating partner. This is because self concept in ourselves can be a making of other people’s image and the way we perceive them.

In interpersonal communication, we are motivated to talk to people we think are good to us. This is why when we are in a crowd we find ourselves talking to only one person out hundreds not because the others cant talk but because he/she has something special that rhymes our self concept. Personal self concept can also be determined by our cultural background and the way we interpret it. The Johari window is very important in evaluating our self concept. If I move ahead to define my self briefly, then I am a person who appreciates others and their abilities as well as their contributions.

I have good communication competence. This is defined as the ability to choose a particular communication behaviors which is appropriate and effective for a given situation or context. (Spitzberg 118-130) This theory of interpersonal communication allows one to achieve communication goals in a manner that does not affect the other communicating party but enhance proper mutual understanding. This competence is brought about by proper knowledge of behavior of teach other and how it is best suited for a particular communication situation.

In this communication incidence under study, it made me feel so bad having such a frustrating moment in public. It is obvious that when communicating with someone, you do so to achieve results of shared meaning. I felt bad that I could not communicate effectively with my friend. He did not follow some basic concepts which are very vital for an effective interpersonal communication. In interpersonal communication, perception plays a very important role in full filling communication expectations.

Perception is defined as the way we consider each other to be, and the way we interpret what ever they tell us. (Watzlawick 101-110) In a communication situation , if I perceive my partner to be of importance to me and to the communication itself, then I will ultimately hear everything that he/she says. Its like when a male and a female partner meet for the first time, they are normally very attentive to each other because they still know nothing about each other but just “good.

” However, people tend to perceive the same things differently based on individuals naturality and personal previous experience. In the incidence above, I broke the expectation of the communication because I had past experience on people who talked to others in a manner that portrayed disobedience in public. It happens that these things that one perceives negatively take time before they are perceived positively. The other reason communication may fail is the level of stereotyping that we employ in our communication especially towards our communicating partner or the communicating environment.

According to the culture of this party I was communicating with, they do not show much respect to leaders especially those that they do not share ethnic background but only respect the institution of the family. This kind of stereotyping then cannot give rise to a common understanding and shared meaning. This knowledge helps in predicting behavior of people in a communication context and classifies individuals according to their background. At times, stereotypes and cultural behaviors leads to prejudices and negative opinion on others.

It has been found that prejudices and stereotypes are some of the major causes of communication failure. Researchers have identified three principles on stereotypes. (Spitzberg 79-89) First, stereotypes contain beliefs about relationships between groups of people. Also, they heighten perception about other people mostly in the negative and extreme behavior. It is not possible to get positive stereotypes about other groups of people. Lastly researchers found that stereotypes maintain division between groups of the “us” and those of “them.

” It becomes a problem with negative prejudice on others because we cannot interprate any message we hear about them positively. Prototypes are ideal sets of rules on a specific type of a relationship. In this case with my colleague, at work we had set professional rules of conduct. When he communicated to me outside the office, then my perception on him changed automatically. Though it took me time to compromise the situation, we were able to solve the crisis after a few days. Sizing up of our communication partners is the other way which if we utilize it well, then we lead to an effective interpersonal communication.

Most of the times we think that we are aware of our partners and we assume that we know what motivates us in them but this goal becomes habitual in influencing negatively our perception on them without our conscious. Sizing up is a step taken to get to know much about people and forming an impression about them and recognizing when to involve them in interpersonal communication. (Watzlawick 140-160) This goes beyond the interaction process to the internal potential and psychological constructs which depict the real person. After the communication breakdown between I and my colleague, I based my argument on his potential as my colleague .

Although I had broken his expectations I got to know him more. One secret of interpersonal communication is that it serves as a bridge in life and at the same time it is key to survival of relationships once utilized skillfully. Role expectation in interpersonal communication is the manner in which parties in a communication process assume different roles. One gives and the other takes. The role expectation of a person is determined by cultural background, education level, sex, status and age. In this incidence, I did not expect my friend to instruct me on such issues in public.

The roles that keep a relationship running should always be stuck. For instance, in a family a father has his roles and duties that he plays as well as the mother. None of them moves across the border where their duties end and not because of their inability to do them but to uphold respect to and for one another. Some relationships are based on the principle of giving and taking where one of the parties gives the other and expects loyalty from his partner. In such interpersonal relationships if expectations are not met then the relationship may collapse. Interpersonal relationships are governed by a set of conversational rules.

They portray good qualities of sustaining an active relationship. I this incidence, for me to have broken the expectation of a good response, I had been provoked by an out of context conversation. Failure to stick to the face of a occasion can infringe on the rights of one of the parties who respects his/her personal life. People who like exposing other’s personal life in public thinking that they are doing their right need to beware because they risk unexpected and embarrassing response in public. In addition to this regarding the story, the communication expectations were broken because he did not adopt the principle of cooperative rule.

(Spitzberg 150-178) This means turn taking in the event of communication. During the communication this friend of mine did not take the initiative to reconcile his unfriendly talk but went ahead to defend his ideas. This conversation rule allows only one person to talk at a time to allow the other to listen. Lack of this order affects and changes perception between two parties in an interpersonal communication. Self monitoring is the other aspect of making sure that before presenting oneself in a communication situation one is fit for it. It is a personal evaluation of knowledge and capabilities.

The first presentation of a person in an environment can affect the way he is perceived thus the way they are communicated to. It therefore remains a personal issue before presenting oneself in a gathering to know how best one is going to present him/herself. Now in this situation I was the boss and being there for me was indeed the right place for me but know this fellow who comes then starts behaving out of context without first monitoring himself if he was fit for the context makes me mad. Interpersonal communication is the process of communication without the use of words .

In his case. Messages are sent through non verbal cues like gesture, body language, eye conduct facial expression and many others. Depending on where and how the cues are utilized in communication, different messages are passed from one person to the other. Non verbal communication is vital in relaying messages of emotions like love, hate and those of stress, attitude and personality. In this case where I broke someones expectation on a communication process, it was clear that failing to respond to such an indisciplined approach meant that I was annoyed with his request.

Nevertheless, there was no more confrontation since I retreated from the area of the incidence. After this incidence, we met after a while and the relationship took basis again. Although he felt like I had offended him, he had also wronged me. When interpersonal relationships are viewed in the developmental view, they advance from self disclosure of persons from the first time to strong ties created between parties over a period of time which is regarded as the mature stage of a relationship. Stable interpersonal relationships never collapse but crisis serve as challenges for making them more stronger.

Based on our original perception of one another, we came and talked on the problem and I reminded him of the few principles of good interpersonal relationship. I emphasized to him that conversational rule of turn taking was key reduced misunderstanding and a sign of patience. I added to him the virtue of understanding that communication is contextual and that every aspect of good communication needs to be on board before initiating a communication exercise to avoid broken expectations. Good as I told him communicators are those who can adapt to changing environments and still communicate effectively displaying their competence.

Conclusion It is worth noting that interpersonal communication is a very complex thing that has its own principles. Its an irreversible process that once you pass a message, the meaning of the message follows and cannot be altered immediately. These complexities need proper knowledge of the basic concepts of effective interpersonal communication which are aimed at understanding and sharing meaning. Interpersonal communication has its own norms which can be broken depending on the right choice of the concepts and their integration the communication process.

(Watzlawick 118-134) Interpersonal communication is self regulating process which at the advanced level can either lead to dissolution of a relationship or its survival. Poor combination of concepts leads to communication breakdown between the parties but this does not mean that its the end of interpersonal communication but parties have the duty of reviving it.


Spitzberg, B. Communication competence: Beverly Hills, CA: Sage (1984) Watzlawick, P. Human communication: New York, Norton press (1967)