Interpersonal Communication

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Elements of interpersonal communication
The three elements of communication that transmit pieces of information when you are speaking to someone are: verbal, paraverbal, and non-verbal.  The listener perceives and uses all of this information to extract meaning from your messages.

 Verbal Elements
These are the specific words, grammar and style of language chosen to articulate the meaning contained in the message being sent. The actual words selected to relate your message will greatly affect the form and quality of the information transmitted.  Word choice and how those words are organized can either increase or decrease ambiguity and therefore affect the clarity of the message. In addition, selecting an extremely formal or informal language style can impact the message.

 Paraverbal Elements
These are the ways in which the words and style of language are articulated in the message being sent. Some paraverbal elements include, but are not limited to: * Pitch:  The musical quality of the voice, which is actually determined by the frequency of vibrations created in the vocal cords. The more elongated the vocal cords, the higher the pitch. Similar to tone below, pitch can communicate information about the state of the speaker. * Tone:  The psychological and/or emotional aspects communicated by the speaker that impact the prosody or vocal quality of what is being said.  For example someone speaking with minimal emotion (i.e., boredom) they may have a flat or blunt intonation of speech compared to someone speaking in an agitated state (i.e., excited or scared) or with a whine (i.e., tired) or condescending (i.e., arrogant) manner of voice.  * Stress:  The placement of stress on a particular syllable or word can alter the intended meaning communicated by a phrase.  The table below provides an illustration of how meaning can change depending on the word that is stressed. Statement| Possible Interpretation|

I didn’t spill milk on the floor.| Someone else spilled the milk.| I didn’t spill milk on the floor.| Milk was not spilled on the floor.| I didn’t spill milk on the floor.| Somehow milk got on the floor by means other than spilling.| I didn’t spill milk on the floor.| Possibly something other than milk was spilled on the floor.| I didn’t spill milk on the floor.| Possibly milk was spilled somewhere not the floor.|

* Rate or speed of speech:  The pace of the words and sentences can communicate things such as hurriedness or nervousness, or whether something is important or not.  For example, students may notice when a professor is stating something of particular importance, as their rate of speech will often change: either slow down or speed up, depending on the individual and their normal pattern of speech.  * Volume or amplitude:  The loudness of what is spoken. Someone shouting information is received differently than someone whispering.

 Non-Verbal Elements
These are the signals sent through body language that affect meaning contained in the message being sent. Approximately half of what is communicated is done so through non-verbal means. Non-verbal elements include:

* Body posture – are you sitting or standing facing the other person while slouched or poised for flight? * Arms and legs – are you shielding your body with crossed arms and legs? * Hands and feet – are they still or busy moving around or fidgeting with things? * Eye contact – are you looking at the other person and holding their gaze appropriately, looking elsewhere while they speak or rolling your eyes? * Facial expressions – are you smiling, scowling, showing boredom or disapproval? * Distance or proximity between the speaker and listener – are you too close or far away from the other person?  PURPOSES OF INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION

One of the most important means we have of influencing human relations communication. Interpersonal communication is, in fact, the foundation of all human...
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