Effect of Electronic Communication on Interpersonal Communication

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COR109 Communication and Thought
Assessment Task 2: Argumentative Essay

Question:

Evaluate the extent to which electronic communication enhances or detracts from the quality of interpersonal communication. Your analysis must engage with three elements of Interpersonal communication and discuss how each is affected by a particular electronic channel of communication. Your essay should be grounded in communication theory from appropriate academic sources.  

Name: Shylana Cole
Student ID: 1059780
Tutor: Mairead Shanahan
Date due: Week 6 Tuesday 6pm
Word count: 968

The quality of interpersonal communication for an individual is vital for the receiver to be able to decode a message sufficiently. The quality of interpersonal communication has drastically changed due to the expanse of electronic communication channels readily available in modern times. Eye contact, head movements and paralinguistics are aspects of interpersonal communication that electronic communication means can obstruct or assist – whether in a positive or a negative manner. E-mail, Text Messaging and Video Conferencing are three forms of electronic communication that can enhance or detract from effective and efficient interpersonal communication. Eye contact – a form of non-verbal interpersonal communication – is used to communicate information that cannot be translated verbally. Eye contact is obstructed when communicating by e-mail. E-mail is a form of non-verbal electronic communication and detracts from effective interpersonal communication due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Head movements are a form of non-verbal interpersonal communication that can effectively and efficiently communicate messages clearly. Text messaging – a form of non-verbal electronic communication – can often be misconstrued due to an obvious lack in non-verbal prompts; primarily head movements, which consequently detracts from effective interpersonal communication. Paralinguistics is an effective and efficient means of interpersonal communication that integrates tone, style, volume, rate and pitch to translate the message successfully. Video conferencing is a method of electronic communication that advantages the sender and receiver due to synchronous verbal and non-verbal cues thus, enhancing interpersonal communication via paralinguistics. Therefore, the quality of interpersonal communication through electronic channels fluctuates dependent on the form of electronic communication.

Eunson (2012: 4) states that communication is exchanging, transmitting and interpreting meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages (Eunson 2012: 4). Meaning and perception can be misconstrued without effective non-verbal communication skills present (Scott 1998: 9). Non-verbal communication is the sum of ‘unspoken signs’ enacted in an exchange or delivery of messages (Scott 1998: 43). Non-verbal communication skills, such as eye contact, head movements and paralinguistics, allow an individual to articulate and communicate a clear and convincing message. (Nash 2011: 78). E-mail – a form of non-verbal communication – detracts from effective interpersonal communication through a lack of eye contact causing the message to be easily misinterpreted. E-mail facilitates informal messages to be transferred electronically through a communications system (Eunson 2012: 202), however, lacks the fundamental benefits that more enhanced forms of communication can deliver through the use of eye contact. Eye contact is the act in which the sender looks directly at the receiver when translating verbal messages (Pearson et al 2011: 350). Eye contact regulates conversation, is a substitute for and can accent language (Scott 1998: 57). Therefore, the quality of interpersonal communication via E-mail is severely diminished due to eye contact being used by a sender to seek reinforcement, approval and feedback from a receiver.

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