Introduction to Interpersonal Communication (Why Do We Form Relationships?…
Introduction to Interpersonal Communication
interpersonal communication is when people treat one another as unique individuals, regardless of context in which interaction takes place or number of people involved
Dimensions of Interpersonal Relationships
Physical intimacy involves physical contact, hugging, kissing, dancing, sexual, etc
Intellectual intimacy is about idea exchange. Have you ever felt energized and turned on by the banter or conversation you had with someone? That closeness that comes when you share ideas is intellectual intimacy.
Emotional intimacy is when we share our feelings with another. This includes the wide range of feelings, the degree to which they are significant to you and the depth to which you share them.
Spiritual intimacy is when we share a connection beyond ourselves. Perhaps it comes through religion or perhaps it is through nature or any assortment of ways we feel a greater connection to the world around us.
This is the degree to which we like each other or appreciate each other. We might love our little brother but not like him very much.
We measure the quality of the relationship often by the length of time we spent together and the length of time we CHOOSE to spend together. I might spend 40 hours a week in a cubical with someone but wouldn’t choose to do that with that person if I had to.
This is the degree to which parties have power to influence each other. We could have conversational control (who talks, who interrupts, who decides what is talked about) and who makes the decisions. We also have power distribution within the relationship. If it is complementary distribution that means that one person has power and the other is more subordinate. Doctor/patient, teacher/student are examples of this. Symmetrical power distribution means that the two people share the power equally or they match each other. So both could try to have the power, which would escalate into a conflict or they both could relinquish the power which looks like “What do you want to do?” “I don’t care what do you want to do?”
Where communication takes place. How you know the person. Family, job, school, religions, sports etc. This isn’t a useful category alone for interpreting if the relationship is interpersonal
Impersonal vs. Interpersonal
With the far side of the impersonal arrow being those that we don’t even know their name and the social role they are in is interchangeable—the grocery clerk could be anyone on any given day.
the interpersonal side we start to see the other as a unique person who we can address by name. We may come to know their reflective thoughtful responses. They can’t be “exchanged” for someone else.
My relationship to my mother could fall anywhere on the continuum. We don’t assume because we are family that our communication is interpersonal.
Why Do We Form Relationships?
Reciprocal Attraction (we are attracted to people who like us)
Competence (we like to be around talented people)
Complementarity (opposites attract)
Disclosure (revealing things about yourself can help build liking)
Similarity (we do tend to like people who are like us)
Proximity (being near someone frequently often builds liking)
Rewards (a somewhat economic model called the social exchange theory which suggests that we seek out people who can give us rewards that are greater than or equal to the costs we encounter in dealing with them).
Functional Aspects of Interpersonal Communication
striving to maintain a positive relationship
putting your relational partner’s needs above your own, which will likely make him or her feel valued.
You organize an office party for a coworker who has just become a US citizen (celebrating/honoring accomplishments).
You make breakfast with your mom while you are home visiting (spending time together).
You post a message on your long-distance friend’s Facebook wall saying you miss him (checking in).
“defining-the-relationship talk” (DTR), you may have a DTR talk to reduce uncertainty about where you stand by deciding to use the term boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner.
maintain positive relationships through relational goals
desire to present different faces in different contexts
As your boss complains about struggling to format the company newsletter, you tell her about your experience with Microsoft Word and editing and offer to look over the newsletter once she’s done to fix the formatting (presenting yourself as competent).
You and your new college roommate stand in your dorm room full of boxes. You let him choose which side of the room he wants and then invite him to eat lunch with you (presenting yourself as friendly).
You say, “I don’t know,” in response to a professor’s question even though you have an idea of the answer (presenting yourself as aloof, or “too cool for school”).
strategically present ourselves in order to be perceived in particular ways
gaining compliance (getting someone to do something for us), getting information we need, or asking for support
You ask your coworker to remind you how to balance your cash register till at the end of your shift (requesting or presenting information).
You ask your friend to help you move this weekend (gaining/resisting compliance).
You console your roommate after he loses his job (asking for or giving support).
get things done in our relationships by communicating for instrumental goals
Cultural Aspects of Interpersonal Communication
climates established through interpersonal communication that are unique to the relational partners but based on larger cultural and social norms
enter into new relationships with expectations based on the schemata we have developed in previous relationships and learned from our larger society and culture
guide us in how we believe our interpersonal relationships should work and how to create them
from our life experiences in our larger cultures, we bring building blocks, or expectations, into our relationships, which fundamentally connect our relationships to the outside world