“Communication is not an easy process. It involves verbal and non-verbal attempts to assist the other person to understand what we are trying to communicate. Yet it often fails.”
The communication occurring between two people as discussed in the statement above is known by academics as ‘interpersonal communication’. Interpersonal communication can be defined as a two-way, transactional process in which two people, occupying a shared space, continue to send information to each other and receive information from each simultaneously. (DeVito, 2008; Firth, Berry & Irvine, 2010; Hartley, 1999). The above statement refers to the process of interpersonal communication.
Three clear assertions regarding the process of interpersonal communication are put forth in the statement above. Firstly, it is declared that the process of interpersonal communication is not simple. Secondly, it is declared that both verbal and non-verbal means are employed to foster the process of interpersonal communication. Lastly, it is declared that the process of interpersonal communication often is unsuccessful. This essay will discuss and analyse the above statement and the three assertions it puts forth in regards to the process of interpersonal communication.
The interpersonal communication process is said to be comprised of five basic elements, which are: the sender of the information; the receiver of the information; the encoding of the information by the sender; the decoding of the information by the receiver; and the shared means or channel through which the information is sent (Shannon & Weaver, 1949, as cited Firth et al., 2010). DeVito (2008) states there are additional elements which also have some part to play in the interpersonal communication process, these being: feedback from the receiver; feedforward by the sender; noise or interference impacting the interpersonal communication process; and the context or setting in which the communication process takes place. The statement above states that the process of interpersonal communication is often unsuccessful. DeVito (2008) suggests that such unsuccessful communication would be attributed to some of the elements of interpersonal communication either being present, absent or employed ineffectively by sender or receiver. Due to the process of interpersonal communication comprising of a number different elements, it can be concluded that the interpersonal communication process does have a certain degree of complexity as declared in the statement above.
The statement being discussed also declares that for the process of interpersonal communication to be successful, verbal and non-verbal forms of information are broadcast by both the sender to facilitate understanding. DeVito (2008) states that verbal forms of information are essentially the actual words used by the sender and are chosen to: convey facts and inferences; express the connotation a word is being used in; and express sincerity or criticism. Hartley (1999) adds that the words a sender chooses to employ can communicate assertiveness and social standing. Though verbal communication is important in the interpersonal communication process, non-verbal communication conveys a far greater amount of information to the receiver (DeVito, 2008; Firth et al., 2010; Hartley, 1999).
DeVito (2008) states non-verbal means of information transfer between sender and receiver include: body movements and gestures such as pointing with a finger; facial expressions and gestures such as smiles and frowns; the amount of and nature of eye contact present such as pupil dilatation and breaking or initiating gaze; the actual physical space between sender and receiver where closer space often indicates a greater level of intimacy between sender and receiver; the presence or absence of touch such as shaking hands or embracing; the use of paralanguage which involves the rate, tone and volume at which the sender speaks or the use of utterances;...
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