Uploaded by Jean Ganub

Principles of Interpersonal Communication

Principles and
Elements of
 Setting the Stage
 Components of the Interpersonal Communication
 Personal Responsibilities in the Communication
 In Search of the Meaning of the Message
 Importance of Perception in Communication
Setting the Stage
 George Raymond, a 59-year-old man with
moderate hypertension, enters your pharmacy
holding an unlit cigar. You know George because
you attend the same church. He is a high school
principal, has a wife who works, and has four
children. He has been told to quit smoking and go
on a diet. He also has a long history of not taking
his medications correctly. He comes to pick up a
new prescription—an antibiotic for a urinary tract
infection. Although he knows you personally, he is
somewhat hesitant as he approaches the
prescription area. He looks down at the ground and
mumbles, “The doctor called in a new prescription
for me, and can I also have a refill of my heart
Components of the Interpersonal
Communication Model
Components of the Interpersonal
Communication Model
In the interpersonal communication process, the
sender transmits a message to another person. In the
example described above, the initial sender of a
message was Mr. Raymond: “The doctor called in a
new prescription for me, and can I also have a refill of
my heart medication?”
In interpersonal communication, the message is the
element that is transmitted from one person to
another. Messages can be thoughts, ideas, emotions,
information, or other factors and can be transmitted
both verbally (by talking) and nonverbally (by using
facial expressions, hand gestures, and so on).
Components of the Interpersonal
Communication Model
The receiver (you in the above example) receives the
message from the sender (Mr. Raymond). As the
receiver, you “decode” the message and assign a
particular meaning to it, which may or may not be Mr.
Raymond’s intended meaning. In receiving and
translating the message, you probably considered both
the verbal and nonverbal components of the message.
Feedback is the process whereby receivers
communicate back to senders their understanding of
the senders’ message. In most situations, receivers do
not passively absorb messages; they respond to them
with their own verbal and nonverbal messages. By
using verbal and nonverbal communication, the
receiver feeds back information to the sender about
how the message was translated.
Components of the Interpersonal
Communication Model
Interpersonal communication is usually affected by a
number of interferences or barriers. These barriers
affect the accuracy of the communication exchange.
Environmental Barriers
Personal Barriers
Administrative Barriers
Time Barriers
Components of the Interpersonal
Communication Model
• Sender. You are responsible for ensuring that the
message is transmitted in the clearest form, in
terminology understood by the other person, and in
an environment conducive to clear transmission.
• Receiver. You have the responsibility of listening to
what is being transmitted by the sender. To ensure
accurate communication, you should provide
feedback to the sender by describing what you
understood the message to be.
Words and Their Context
A 9-month-old baby is admitted to the hospital with a
severe infection. The pharmacist spoke with the
mother upon admission and learned that about 1 week
ago her son had developed a minor bacterial infection
and received an antibiotic, which she gave him for 4
days until the infection appeared to be cleared up.
When asked why she stopped the antibiotic, the
mother stated that she was just following the
directions on the prescription label: “Take one-half
teaspoonful three times a day for infection until all
gone.” The mother stated that she gave the
medication until the infection was all gone.
Unfortunately, the intended message was that the
antibiotic should be given until the liquid was all gone
(which would have been about 14 days—long enough
to treat the bacterial infection). The mother assigned
a meaning to the message on the prescription label
that was not accurate; and thus, she stopped giving
the antibiotic, a super-infection developed, and the
baby was hospitalized.
Words and Their Context
Congruent and Incongruent Messages
• A red-faced agitated patron comes into the
pharmacy, raises a fist, and loudly proclaims, “I’m not
angry, I’m just here to ask about a prescription error.”
• A disappointed pharmacist has tried, so far without
success, to convince a physician to change an
obviously inappropriate medication order. When
asked how he is feeling, he meekly replies, “Oh, I’m
just fine.”
• A patient hands a pharmacist a prescription for a
tranquilizer, then bursts into tears. The pharmacist
asks if anything is the matter, and the patient
responds, “No, I’m okay, it’s nothing at all.”
Using Feedback to Check the
of the Message
A patient being seen in an anticoagulation clinic
mentioned to the pharmacist that he had developed
several bruises on his hands and legs. The pharmacist
immediately checked the patient’s computer records
and found a recent INR value of 6, which was well
above his targeted 2–3 range. The pharmacist asked
whether the patient had changed his diet, lifestyle, or
drug regimen. The patient said no, but that he was
given another medication during his last clinic visit.
The pharmacist then went back to the profile and
noticed that the patient had been receiving 4 mg daily
Coumadin for some time, but his dose was reduced to
3 mg during the last visit to adjust his INR. The
pharmacist suspected what the issue might be and
asked the patient, “Did you stop taking the 4 mg
tablet?” The patient replied, “No, nobody told me to,
so I have been following instructions and taking both
tablets!!” Thus, he was taking 7 mg per day rather
than the intended 3 mg.
Using Feedback to Check the
of the Message
Statements or Questions That Elicit Feedback
• “I want to be sure I have explained things clearly.
Please summarize the most important things to
remember about this medicine.”
• “How do you intend to take the medication?”
• “Please show me how you are going to use this nasal
• “It is important that I understand that you know how
to take this medication. Now when you get home, how
are you going to take this medication?”
• “Describe in your own words how you are going to
take this medication.”
Using Feedback to Check the
of the Message
Advice Pharmacists Should Follow When
Communicating with People of Different
• Learn as much as you can about the patient’s
background. Most communication problems arise when
there is a lack of knowledge about the other person’s
reasons for a particular communication style.
• View diversity as an opportunity. With a little
patience and the right attitude, you will be amazed at
the opportunities that crop up to help one another.
• Do not condescend. Patronizing behavior is not
appreciated and is recognized as such in any culture.
• Talk about your differences. Misunderstandings will
often take root when people from differing
backgrounds do not talk to one another. Be willing to
talk openly and with a constructive attitude.
The interpersonal communication model reveals that you must
recognize that interpersonal communication is more than
merely speaking to others, offering a printed prescription
label, or affixing an auxiliary label to a prescription. You
must make sure that the messages you transmit to others are
received accurately.
There is no guarantee that the meaning of your message
will be translated as intended. You need to make sure that
you enhance your listening skills so that you can become a
better receiver of messages as well.
Review Cases
Review Case 1
A patient, Ms. Reynolds, enters a pharmacy, having just come
from her physician’s office.
Ms. Reynolds: My doctor just gave me a prescription for
methotrexate and did not tell me anything about it! What’s it
used for?
Pharmacist: I am busy right now to go into detail, but it is used
to treat various conditions, including cancer and rheumatoid
Ms. Reynolds: What?!! Oh my goodness!! I can’t believe this.
My doctor must think I have cancer and is waiting to tell me.
1. How could the pharmacist have handled this situation
differently to check for misperceptions?
2. What would you have said to the patient?
3. Would you call anyone else about this? If so, who?
Review Cases
Review Case 2
You are a pharmacist in a pharmacy located in a medical
building. Cynthia Jackson, a 22-year-old college student, enters
your pharmacy. Cynthia has no prescription insurance and is on
a limited budget. She has been dealing with chronic sinusitis
and finally realized that she needed to see an ear, nose, and
throat specialist. Cynthia visited Dr. Sampson, who practices in
your building. You know Dr. Sampson to be a good physician,
but one who lacks interpersonal skills at times. He prescribed
an expensive antibiotic that would cost Cynthia $75. After you
tell her the price, Cynthia states, “Dr. Sampson didn’t help me
very much. He spends 5 minutes with me and then prescribes
this expensive antibiotic and nothing else! And how do you get
off charging me so much for just an antibiotic?”
1. What feelings do you sense coming from Cynthia?
2. How does Cynthia’s perception of Dr. Sampson influence her
3. How would you respond to Cynthia?
4. What kind of recommendations would you give her?