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Exam: Definition and Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication……

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Definition and Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication……Anything we do with other people must involve communication. A writer once said that: “all social interaction is necessarily communicative and any social process presumes communication process.” Some  people seem to regard the essence of communication as being able to speak and write proper English whereas others would argue that good communicators are effective listeners. Interpersonal communication does not simply involve the exchange of messages. It essentially involves the creation and exchange of meaning. One vital implication of the linear model of communication follows from its concern with “the message.” This implies that we can arrive at  a faultless and unambiguous statement of whatever was communicated. Interpersonal communication involves the transmission of a message between two or more people. It is a process consisting of the sender, the message, a channel of communication, the receiver and feedback. In this form of communication, an individual sends and receives messages from another mostly in a face-to- face interaction. Such information-exchange cuts across verbal and non- verbal modes of communication. Interpersonal communication usually  occurs within interpersonal relationships.

Definition and Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication...

This suggests a developmental perspective. Interpersonal communication is restricted to those situations in which we have knowledge of the personal characteristics, qualities, or behaviours of the other person. It entails an exchange of information with others based on some knowledge of their uniqueness as a person and  a shared history. DeVito defines interpersonal communication as “communication that takes place between two persons who have an established relationship; the people are in some ways connected.” Indeed, it  is a form of communication that permeates our lives. Hence, as interpersonal communication can occur between romantic partners, business associates and doctors, it can also occur between patients. Often, your interpersonal interactions are devoted to attempts at influencing the other individual in some ways. Interpersonal communication can, therefore, be seen as the process involving the sending and receiving of information within a very small group, usually in a face-to-face situation where feedback is immediate and spontaneous. To Obilade (1989:74), interpersonal communication is the end of a process which begins with impersonal communication where our knowledge of the person with whom we are communicating is partial, and relationship formal.


Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication


From the various definitions of interpersonal communication above, the following characteristics can be inferred:

Interpersonal communication is highly ubiquitous. This makes it a form of communication that takes place everywhere on a daily basis between friends, workers, lovers, leaders and families. Also, feedback in interpersonal communication is spontaneous especially in face-to-face interaction unlike mass communication where it is delayed or mediated by technology.

It uses a multi-channel experience because its face-to-face variant allows individuals to use both verbal and non-verbal mode of communication. The five senses of sound, found, smell, taste and touch can be employed to send and receive messages.    Definition and Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication does feature prominently in other forms of communication like mass communication, traditional communication and group communication.Research, for instance, has established that media effects are mediated by interpersonal communication while there are also friendship networks within groups.

Interpersonal communication does not require a large bureaucratic set- up and sophisticated gadgets for information exchange unlike mass communication. It is not expensive.

Furthermore, it places great emphasis on the listening behaviour of participants. Poor listening habit can cause interpersonal communication to meet its waterloo.

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