COM125 COMMUNICATION Table of Contents Chapter One: What is Interpersonal Communication 1.1 Why Study Interpersonal Communication 1.2 Func

COM125 COMMUNICATION

Table of Contents

Chapter One: What is Interpersonal Communication
1.1 Why Study Interpersonal Communication

1.2 Func

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COMMUNICATION

Table of Contents

Chapter One: What is Interpersonal Communication
1.1 Why Study Interpersonal Communication

1.2 Functional Aspects of Interpersonal Communication

1.3 Cultural Aspects of Interpersonal Communication

1.4 Communication is Integrated into All Parts of Our Lives

1.5 Communication Culture, Context, Learned, Rules and Norms

1.6 Communication Meets Needs

Chapter Two: The Self
2.1 Self-Disclosure

2.2 Media, the Self, and Relationships

2.3 Perceiving and Presenting the Self

Chapter Three: Perception
3.1 Perception

3.2 Improving Perception

Chapter Four: Deception
4.1 Deception

4.2 Language and Deception

4.3 Nonverbal Cues and Deception

4.4 Deception and Social Media

4.5 Deception and Communication Competence

Chapter Five: Gender
5.1 Gender Introduction

5.2 Gender Differences

5.3 Gender Roles

5.4 Gender Sexism and Socialization

5.5 Sexual Orientation

5.6 Important Gender-Related Events in the United States

5.7 Gender and Communication

Chapter Six: Culture
6.1 What is Culture?

6.2 Culture, Identity, and Communication

6.3 Cultural Taxonomies

6.4 Culture and Communication

6.5 Strengthening our Intercultural Communication Skills

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Chapter Seven: Language
7.1 Language Introduction

7.2 Using Words Well

7.3 Functions of Language

Chapter Eight: Nonverbal Communication
8.1 Nonverbal Communication Introduction

8.2 Principles and Functions of Nonverbal Communication

8.3 Types of Nonverbal Communication

8.4 Nonverbal Communication Competence

8.5 Nonverbal Communication in Context

Chapter Nine: Listening
9.1 Listening Defined

9.2 Understanding How and Why We Listen

9.3 Barriers to Effective Listening

9.4 Improving Listening Competence

Chapter Ten: Emotion
10.1 Emotions

10.2 Evolution and Emotions

10.3 Culture and Emotions

10.4 Expressing Emotions

10.5 Managing and Responding to Emotions

Chapter Eleven: Relationship Theories
11.1 Communication in Relationships

11.2 Foundations of Relationships

11.3 Theories in Relationship Communication

Chapter Twelve: Romantic and Family Relationships
12.1 Theories in Relationship Communication

12.2 Communication and Friends

12.3 Relationships at Work

Chapter Thirteen: Friends and Workplace Relationships
13.1 Relationships at Work

13.2 Communication and Families

13.3 Romantic Relationships

13.4 Listening in Relational Contexts

13.5 The Dark Side of Relationships

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Chapter Fourteen: Conflict
14.1 Conflict Introduction

14.2 Conflict Management Styles

14.3 Culture and Conflict

14.4 Handling Conflict Better

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Creative Commons Licenses and Acknowledgements
This text is comprised of content developed by the editors along with adaptations of the

following Creative Commons sources:

A Primer on Communication Studies (v. 1.0).

This book is licensed under a CreativeCommons by-nc-sa3.0

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/ 3.0/) license. See the license for more details, but

that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below),

don’t make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms. This

book was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz

(http://lardbucket.org/) in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.

Gender article on NOBA

Gender by Christia Spears Brown and Jennifer A. Jewell is licensed under a Creative Commons

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the

scope of this license may be available in our Licensing Agreement.

Speaking of Culture by Nolan Weil

Speaking of Culture by Nolan Weil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-

NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Language and Culture in Context by R. Godwin-Jones

Language and Culture in Context by R. Godwin-Jones is licensed under Creative Commons BY

NC.

Communication in the Real World

Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies by University of

Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0

International License, except where otherwise noted.

Dimensionlizing Cultures

Dimensionlizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context by Geert Hofstede is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Saylor Foundation

Portions of this text were adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the

work’s original creator or licensee.

4

Editors

Kristy Callihan, Assistant Professor of Communication, Pikes Peak Community College

Marcelle Hureau, Instructor of Communication, Pikes Peak Community College

Shayne McCormick, Instructor of Communication, Pikes Peak Community College

Katie Wheeler, Assistant Professor of Communication, Pikes Peak Community College

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Chapter 1.1 – Interpersonal Communication Introduction

By its very nature communication is not a skill we are born with. If lucky, we are born with the

senses necessary to learn to use the communication skills. Studying interpersonal communication

takes the senses that we have and enhances them. Exploring interpersonal communication is a

journey. This journey begins with the core of who we are, why we make the decisions we do,

how we approach relationships, identity, emotions, language, listening, and the layers of

conversations we have in a variety of contexts. Only when individuals understand themselves

better, can they improve their own communication skills.

In chapter one, you will have an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of communication. The

very process of communication is complex even to explain, yet in real time occurs very quickly.

As each section is explained, try to apply it to your own life and you will have more

comprehensive learning experience.

In order to understand interpersonal communication, we must understand how interpersonal

communication functions to meet our needs and goals and how our interpersonal communication

connects to larger social and cultural systems. Interpersonal communication is the process of

exchanging messages between people whose lives mutually influence one another in unique

ways in relation to social and cultural norms. This definition highlights the fact that

interpersonal communication involves two or more people who are interdependent to some

degree and who build a unique bond based on the larger social and cultural contexts to which

they belong. So a brief exchange with a grocery store clerk who you don’t know wouldn’t be

considered interpersonal communication, because you and the clerk are not influencing each

other in significant ways. Obviously, if the clerk were a friend, family member, coworker, or

romantic partner, the communication would fall into the interpersonal category. In this section,

we discuss the importance of studying interpersonal communication and explore its functional

and cultural aspects.

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Chapter 1.2 Why Study Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal communication has many implications for us in the real world. Did you know that

interpersonal communication played an important role in human evolution? Early humans who

lived in groups, rather than alone, were more likely to survive, which meant that those with the

capability to develop interpersonal bonds were more likely to pass these traits on to the next

generation (Leary, 2001). Interpersonal skills have a measurable impact on psychological and

physical health. People with higher levels of interpersonal communication skills are better able to

adapt to stress, have greater satisfaction in relationships and more friends, and have less

depression and anxiety (Hargie, 2011).

Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

In fact, prolonged isolation has been shown to severely damage a human (Williams & Zadro,

2001). Have you ever heard of the boy or girl who was raised by wolves? There have been

documented cases of abandoned or neglected children, sometimes referred to as feral children,

who survived using their animalistic instincts but suffered psychological and physical trauma as

a result of their isolation (Candland, 1995). There are also examples of solitary confinement,

which has become an ethical issue in many countries. In “supermax” prisons, which now operate

in at least forty-four states, prisoners spend 22.5 to 24 hours a day in their cells and have no

contact with the outside world or other prisoners (Shalev, 2011).

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Aside from making your relationships and health better, communication can impact your

employment opportunities and chances for promotion. According to the National Association of

Colleges and Employers (2010), interpersonal communication skills are highly sought after by

potential employers, consistently ranking in the top ten in national surveys. Each of these

examples illustrates how interpersonal communication meets our basic needs as humans for

security in our social bonds, health, and careers. But we are not born with all the interpersonal

communication skills we’ll need in life. So in order to make the most out of our interpersonal

relationships, we must learn some basic principles.

Think about a time when a short communication exchange affected a relationship almost

immediately. Did you mean for it to happen? Many times we engage in interpersonal

communication to fulfill certain goals we may have, but sometimes we are more successful than

others. This is because interpersonal communication is strategic, meaning we intentionally create

messages to achieve certain goals that help us function in society and our relationships. Goals

vary based on the situation and the communicators, but ask yourself if you are generally

successful at achieving the goals with which you enter a conversation or not. If so, you may

already possess a high degree of interpersonal communication competence, or the ability

to communicate effectively and appropriately in personal relationships. This chapter will

help you understand some key processes that can make us more effective and appropriate

communicators.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

You may be asking, “Aren’t effectiveness and appropriateness the same thing?” The answer is

no. Imagine that you are the manager of a small department of employees at a marketing agency

where you often have to work on deadlines. As a deadline approaches, you worry about your

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team’s ability to work without your supervision to complete the tasks, so you interrupt

everyone’s work and assign them all individual tasks and give them a bulleted list of each

subtask with a deadline to turn each part in to you. You meet the deadline and have effectively

accomplished your goal. Over the next month, one of your employees puts in her two-weeks’

notice, and you learn that she and a few others have been talking about how they struggle to

work with you as a manager. Although your strategy was effective, many people do not respond

well to strict hierarchy or micromanaging and may have deemed your communication

inappropriate. A more competent communicator could have implemented the same detailed plan

to accomplish the task in a manner that included feedback, making the employees feel more

included and heard. In order to be competent interpersonal communicators, we must learn to

balance being effective and appropriate.

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Chapter 1.3 Functional Aspects of Interpersonal

Communication

We have different needs that are met through our various relationships. Whether we are aware of

it or not, we often ask ourselves, “What can this relationship do for me?” In order to understand

how relationships achieve strategic functions, we will look at instru mental goals, relationship-

maintenance goals, and self-presentation goals.

What motivates you to communicate with someone? We frequently engage in communication

designed to achieve instrumental goals such as gaining compliance (getting someone to do

something for us), getting information we need, or asking for support (Burleson, Metts, & Kirch,

2000). In short, instrumental talk helps us “get things done” in our relationships. Our

instrumental goals can be long term or day to day. The following are examples of

communicating for instrumental goals:

• You ask your friend to help you move this weekend (gaining/resisting compliance)

• 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 console your roommate after he loses his job (asking for or giving support)

When we communicate to achieve relational goals, we are striving to maintain a positive

relationship. Engaging in relationship-maintenance communication is like taking your car to

be serviced at the repair shop. To have a good relationship, just as to have a long-lasting

car, we should engage in routine maintenance. For example, have you ever wanted to stay in

and order a pizza and watch a movie, but your friend suggests that you go to a local restaurant

and then to the movie theatre? Maybe you don’t feel like being around a lot of people, or

spending money (or changing out of your pajamas!), but you decide to go along with his, or her,

suggestion. In that moment, you are putting your relational partner’s needs above your own,

which will likely make him or her feel valued. It is likely that your friend has made, or will also

make, similar concessions to put your needs first, which indicates that there is a satisfactory and

complimentary relationship. Obviously, if one partner always insists on having their way, or

always concedes, the individuals are not exhibiting interpersonal-communication competence.

Other routine relational tasks include celebrating special occasions or honoring

accomplishments, spending time together, and checking in regularly by phone, e-mail, text,

social media, or face-to-face communication. The following are examples of communicating for

relational goals:

• 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)

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Gathering to celebrate a colleague’s birthday is a good way for coworkers to achieve relational

goals in the workplace. © Thinkstock

Another form of relational talk is the DTR talk, which stands for “defining-the-relationship

talk” and serves a relationship-maintenance function. In the early stages of a romantic

relationship, you may have a DTR talk to reduce uncertainty about where you stand by deciding

to use the term boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner. In a DTR talk, you may proactively define your

relationship by saying, “I’m glad I’m with you and no one else.” Your romantic interest may

respond favorably, echoing or rephrasing your statement, which gives you an indication that they

agree with you. The talk may continue on from there, and you may talk about what to call your

relationship, set boundaries, or not. It is not unusual to have several DTR talks as a relationship

progresses. At times, you may have to define the relationship when someone steps over a line by

saying, “I think we should just be friends.” This more explicit and reactive (rather than

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proactive) communication can be especially useful in situations where a relationship may be

unethical, inappropriate, or create a conflict of interest—for example, in a supervisor-supervisee,

mentor-mentee, professional- client, or collegial relationship.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

We also pursue self-presentation goals by adapting our communication in order to be perceived

in particular ways. Just as many companies, celebrities, and politicians create a public image, we

desire to present different faces in different contexts. The well-known scholar Erving Goffman

(1959) compared self-presentation to a performance and suggested we all perform different roles

in different contexts. Indeed, competent communicators can successfully manage how others

perceive them by adapting to situations and contexts. A parent may perform the role of stern

head of household, supportive shoulder to cry on, or hip and culturally aware friend to their

child. A newly hired employee may initially perform the role of serious and agreeable coworker.

Sometimes people engage in communication that doesn’t necessarily present them in a positive

way. For example, Haley, the oldest daughter in the television show Modern Family, often

presents herself as incapable in order to get her parents to do her work. In one episode, she

pretended she didn’t know how to crack open an egg so her mom would make brownies for her

school bake sale. Here are some other examples of communicating to meet self-presentation

goals:

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• 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”)

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) states that appearance, behavior,

and communication are the “ABC’s of image” (AICI, 2011). Many professional image

consultants are licensed by this organization and provide a variety of services to politicians,

actors, corporate trainers, public speakers, organizations, corporations, and television

personalities such as news anchors. Consider the following questions:

1. If you were to hire an image consultant for yourself, what would you have them “work
on” for you? Why?

2. What communication skills that you’ve learned about in the book so far would be most
important for an image consultant to possess?

3. Many politicians use image consultants to help them connect to voters and win elections.
Do you think this is ethical? Why or why not?

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As if managing instrumental, relational, and self-presentation goals isn’t difficult enough when

we consider them individually, we must also realize that the three goal types are always working

together. In some situations, we may use instrumental goals over relational or self-presentation

goals. For example, if your partner is offered a great job in another state and you decided to go

with them which will move you away from your job and social circle, you would be focusing on

relational goals over instrumental or self-presentation goals. When you’re facing a stressful

situation and need your best friend’s help and call saying, “Hurry and bring me a gallon of gas or

I’m going to be late to work!” you are using instrumental goals over relational goals. Of course,

if the person really is your best friend, you can try to smooth things over or make up for your

shortness later. However, you probably wouldn’t call your boss and bark a request to bring you a

gallon of gas so you can get to work, because you likely want your boss to see you as dependable

and likable, meaning you have focused on self-presentation goals.

The functional perspective of interpersonal communication indicates that we communicate

to achieve certain goals in our relationships. We get things done in our relationships by

communicating for instrumental goals. We maintain positive relationships through relational

goals. We also strategically present ourselves in order to be perceived in particular ways. As our

goals are met and our relationships build, they become little worlds we inhabit with our relational

partners, complete with their own relationship cultures.

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Chapter 1.4 Cultural Aspects of Interpersonal

Communication

Aside from functional aspects of interpersonal communication, communicating in relationships

also helps establish relationship cultures. Just as large groups of people create cultures through

shared symbols (language), values, and rituals, people in relationships also create cultures at a

smaller level. Relationship cultures are the climates established through interpersonal

communication that are unique to the relational partners but based on larger cultural and

social norms. We also enter into new relationships with expectations based on the schemata we

have developed in previous relationships and learned from our larger society and culture. Think

of relationship schemata as blueprints or plans that show the inner workings of a

relationship. Just like a schematic or diagram for assembling a new computer desk helps you put

it together, relationship schemata guide us in how we believe our interpersonal relationships

should work and how to create them. So 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 (Burleson, Metts, & Kirch, 2000). Even though we experience

our relationships as unique, they are at least partially built on preexisting cultural norms.

Think of how you use storytelling among your friends, family, coworkers, and other relational

partners. If you recently moved to a new place for college, you probably experienced some big

changes. One of the first things you started to do was reestablish a social network—remember,

human beings are fundamentally social creatures. As you began to encounter new people in your

classes, at your new job, or in your new housing, you most likely told some stories of your life

before—about your friends, job, or teachers back home. One of the functions of this type of

storytelling, early in forming interpersonal bonds, is a test to see if the people you are meeting

have similar stories or can relate to your previous relationship cultures. In short, you are testing

the compatibility of your schemata with the new people you encounter. Although storytelling

will continue to play a part in your relational development with these new people, you may be

surprised at how quickly you start telling stories with your new friends about things that have

happened since you met. You may recount stories about your first trip to the dance club together,

the weird geology professor you had together, or the time you all got sick from eating the

cafeteria food. In short, your old stories will start to give way to new stories that you’ve created.

Storytelling within relationships helps create solidarity, or a sense of belonging and closeness.

This type of storytelling can be especially meaningful for relationships that don’t fall into the

dominant culture. For example, research on a gay male friendship circle found that the gay men

retold certain dramatic stories frequently to create a sense of belonging and to also bring in new

members to the group (Jones, 2007).

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Some additional communicative acts that create our relational cultures include relational

storytelling, personal idioms, routines and rituals, and rules and norms. Storytelling is an

important part of how we create culture in larger contexts and how we create a uniting and

meaningful storyline for our relationships. In fact, an anthropologist coined the term homo

narrans to describe the unique storytelling capability of modern humans (Fisher, 1985). We

often rely on rel

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