Main points of 'Interpersonal communication'
Interpersonal communication is about communication between people, usually face to face. It is about making
contact with others and about how and why we do this.
1 Means of contact
1.1 Non-verbal communication is one channel which carries messages to and from other people. It includes three
codes, called body language, paralanguage and dress.
1.2 Speech is the other main channel of communication between people. It is a code, composed of signs. It includes
secondary codes. The signs can be used selectively, as when we choose a register. Our verbal and non-verbal signs
are special to our culture.
1.3 Contact is for exchanging messages and meanings.
2 Making contact
This is about how we use the means of contact that we have.
2.1 We use strategies when choosing our words and non-verbal signs in order to achieve some purpose through
communicating. Some strategies are used so often that they become habits, even rituals.
2.2 We present ourselves through a persona when we deal with other people. We stage a performance. We have
different persona for different situations.
2.3 We can learn a variety of communication skills, some interpersonal, some requiring use of a range of media.
Interpersonal skills help us make contact with others. Skills help create and confirm various kinds of relationship.
3 Regulation of contact
We regulate our contact with others by giving and receiving feedback. This comes through non-verbal signs in
4 Perception of ourselves and others
Perception is about noticing signs that tell us about ourselves and another person, and then making sense of them.
4.1 There are two main elements in the self that we perceive: the self-image and self-esteem. What we think of our
self will affect how we communicate.
4.2 When we perceive others we make an assessment of them. This assessment is concerned with personality,
emotional state and attitude. We also make assumptions about attributes of the other person: job, sex, status, role,
4.3 We base our perception on what we see and what we hear, especially on non-verbal signs.
4.4 But we perceive others imperfectly because of certain problems: that we project our wishes onto our view of the
other person, that we categorize people too readily and too simply, that we make assumptions too easily, that we are
inclined to be influenced by first impressions.
5 Barriers to communication
When we communicate with others there may be factors which filter our messages when we are putting them
together, or which cause us to filter the messages of others when we are making sense of them.
5.1 In the process of perception, the most common kind of filtering happens because we make inaccurate
5.2 Mechanical barriers are to do with physical obstructions to communication.
5.3 Semantic barriers are to do with problems in conveying, receiving and agreeing about meaning.
5.4 Psychological barriers are to do with assumptions and prejudices which cause the message to be filtered. They
would affect encoding when communication is given and decoding when it is received.
6 Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal communication skills are also social skills which are used in various social relationships.
6.1 Social skills can make communication with others effective and satisfying.
It is a skill to make sense of others' feedback and to make appropriate responses.
Key social skills are: to show approval to others, to empathize with others, to listen effectively, to present oneself
appropriately, to perceive ourselves and others accurately, to control verbal and non-verbal behaviour to good effect.
6.2 Listening skills use non-verbal communication.
Key listening skills in social situations are: to acknowledge the person who is talking, to maintain the conversation
effectively, to show approval of the other person.
6.3 Perceptual skills are present in the three stages of perception: recognizing, reflecting and acting. Key perceptual
skills are: to make accurate observations of the other person, to avoid jumping to conclusions, to make careful
judgements, to make appropriate responses to what is perceived about the person.