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Interpersonal Communication Interpersonal communication is defined by Michael Cody as: the exchange of symbols used to achieve interpersonal goals (28). Does this definition include everything, or does it only include certain things? . When we are dealing with the issue of interpersonal communication we must realize that people view it differently. In this paper I will develop my own idea or definition of what interpersonal communication is. I will then proceed to identify any important assumptions or issues that become important in the definition that I choose.
Finally, I will provide examples of communicative and non-communicative events based on my definition. Interpersonal communication, in my opinion, is the exchange of information verbal or non-verbal between two, no more than 5 or 6, people for the purpose of getting a feedback and sharing information. Interpersonal communication is not interpersonal if it involves too many people. When the number of people exceeds a certain amount it is no longer interpersonal communication, it then becomes mass communication.
In my definition it is vital that feed-back be given to the person that is doing the communicating. When feedback is not present then the lines of communication break down and then there is no communication at all. Even if the message is perceived wrong interpersonal communication still exists as long as the feedback is given. For example: when you talk to someone that is hard of hearing and you ask them to do something and they hear you say something other than what you said there is still interpersonal communication, although it is miscommunication.
If the person, however, does not here the speaker at all and does not give any feedback, then interpersonal communication has not been established according to my definition. Another important dimension to my definition is that the information is exchanged in order to share the information. When the information that is exchanged is not used to share the information, then interpersonal communication has not taken place. If you speak in a way in which the person does not feel receptive to what you are saying then you have not achieved interpersonal communication.
When a boss yells at his employees, or a teacher yells at his other students then interpersonal communication has not taken place. True communication has taken place, but it was not interpersonal communication. The information is not being shared it is being forced upon people. The information has to be shared such as when a friend tells another friend about a problem tha the or she is having or when a child talks to his or her parents about something personal. That information is being shared by two people in order to illicit a feedback. There are many important issues that become important when discussing my definition of interpersonal communication.
One primary assumption is that communication must be carried on by people that are alive. Michael Cody uses an assumption like this when he is discussing his definition of interpersonal communication. Codys' assumption says that interpersonal communication occurs between people who are in a state of being. His state of being is different form mine in that I mainly imply that the person must be alive in order to establish interpersonal communication. In Cody' assumption his state of being is three pronged including, 1) people change, 2) people are searching for meaning for development and 3) it implies that communication can never be replicated (Cody 30). When Cody talks about 'being ' he is going into more detail than I would.
As stated earlier my state of being means just being alive. Another important issue that needs to be brought up when discussing my definition of interpersonal communication is the issue of the number of people. When dealing with the issue of interpersonal communication the amount of people being communicated with is of utmost importance. Can a preacher have interpersonal communication with his congregation on Sunday morning? . According to my definition he cannot. Interpersonal communication must be done when there is a certain amount of people.
You cannot have one person and have interpersonal communication, likewise, you cannot have a hundred people and have interpersonal communication either. Interpersonal communication must be done when at least two people are present. In order for the communication to stay effective you cannot have more than six people. The reason for the limitation is that when too many people get involved it becomes harder to bring forth the message that you want to send. As I stated earlier if the message is not sent and shared then interpersonal communication has not taken place. Finally, I would like to discuss some examples of communicative and non-communicative events based on the definition that I have given.
An example of a communicative event that would use my definition would be as follows: When two people are talking they are speaking to each other in order to change information. For example: When you walk the street and you see someone you know you speak and you ask ' how was your day'. The point when you asked how the persons day was you initiated the process of interpersonal communication. The person will respond, and the information that the person shares with you completes the process of interpersonal communication. An example of non- verbal communication using my definition is somewhat more difficult.
When you are sitting at restaurant and you a start playing foot tag with your date you are sending a non-verbal form of interpersonal communication. The first contact of the foot is the initiation of the communication. When the person responds, favorably or unfavorably, non-verbal interpersonal communication has taken place. In conclusion I would like to say that developing a definition for interpersonal communication is no easy task. Because interpersonal communication is such a vague topic it makes it that more difficult.
With much effort and practice we can develop a universal definition for interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication, in my opinion, is the exchange of information verbal or non-verbal between two, no more than 5 or 6, people for the purpose of getting a feedback and sharing information. I have explained my reasons for choosing this definition and I have also given information and example that will support it. My definition is by no means exhaustive, but I think it is a start to developing a universally excepted definition for the term interpersonal communication..
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