Chapter Outline

  1. The process of interpersonal communication
    1. Interpersonal communication: an interactional process whereby one person sends a message to another
      1. At least two people must be involved
      2. It is a process
      3. The process is interactional (i.e., not a one-way street)
    2. Components of the communication process
      1. Six essential components of interpersonal communication process
        1. Sender: person who initiates message
        2. Receiver: person to whom message is targeted
        3. Message: information transmitted from sender to receiver
          1. Senders encode ideas into message; receivers decode message into ideas
          2. Primary means of sending messages is language
        4. Channel: the sensory channel through which message reaches receiver
        5. Noise: any stimulus that interferes with accurately expressing or understanding a message
        6. Context: the environment in which communication takes place
    3. The importance of communication
      1. An essential aspect of everyday life
      2. Quality of communication can affect satisfaction in marriage
  2. Nonverbal communication: transmission of meaning from one person to another through means or symbols other than words
    1. General principles of nonverbal communication
      1. Multichanneled
      2. Frequently conveys emotions
      3. Is relatively ambiguous
      4. May contradict verbal messages
      5. Is culture-bound
    2. Elements of nonverbal communication
      1. Personal space: a zone of space surrounding a person that is felt to "belong" to that person
        1. Proxemics: the study of people's use of interpersonal space
        2. Other animals show similar tendency, called territoriality
        3. Size of personal space depends on nature of relationship and type of situation
          1. Distance is regulated by social norms; varies by culture
          2. Women seem to have smaller personal spaces than men
          3. People of similar status tend to stand closer together
        4. Invasions of personal space elicit variety of reactions
      2. Facial expressions
        1. Generally convey emotions
        2. Paul Ekman and colleagues have identified six emotions associated with distinctive facial expressions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise
        3. Some facial expressions are universally recognized but many expressions vary from culture to culture
        4. Display rules: norms that govern the appropriate display of emotions
        5. People can regulate facial expressions to deceive others
      3. Eye contact
        1. Duration of eye contact is most meaningful
          1. High levels of eye contact associated with attentiveness
          2. High levels also associated with effective social skills, credibility
        2. Gaze is means of communicating intensity of feelings, but not positive or negative emotion
        3. Culture affects patterns of eye contact
        4. Gender and racial differences have been found in United States
      4. Body language
        1. Kinesics: the study of communication through body movements
        2. Provides information about person's level of tension
        3. Body posture also conveys information
          1. "Open" position conveys feeling of relaxation
          2. Leaning toward another person indicates interest, positive attitude
          3. Closed" position associated with lower status
        4. Hand gestures primarily used to regulate conversations, supplement speech
        5. Touch
        6. Takes many forms and can convey variety of meanings, including support, consolation, and sexual intimacy
        7. Can also convey messages of status and power
        8. Strong norms about where people are allowed to touch each other
        9. Gender differences in responses to touching
          1. Women generally respond more favorably
          2. Gender difference may depend on status differences
      5. Paralanguage: all vocal cues other than the content of the verbal message itself
        1. Cues include intensity, speed, and rhythm of speech
        2. Aspects of vocalization can communicate emotions
          1. Loud vocalization often indicates anger
          2. High pitch may indicate anxiety
    3. Detecting deception
      1. It's possible to detect deception, but it isn't easy
      2. Vocal cues include excessive hesitations, stammering
      3. Visual cues include excessive blinking, dilation of pupils
      4. Liars nervously touch themselves more than normal
      5. Use of polygraph: device that records fluctuations in physiological arousal as a person answers questions
        1. Called a "lie detector," it's really an emotion detector
        2. Monitors indicators of autonomic arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and perspiration)
        3. Studies show polygraph is inaccurate one-fourth to one-third of the time
    4. Significance of nonverbal communication
      1. Negative feelings toward someone will "leak" through nonverbal channels
      2. Research indicates that people with negative self-views are not likely to detect negative, nonverbal messages
      3. Accuracy in reading emotions of others is related to social competence, status
      4. More negative messages, fewer positive messages associated with unhappy marriages
  3. Toward more effective communication
    1. Creating a positive interpersonal climate
      1. Learn to feel and communicate empathy (adopting another's frame of reference so you can understand his or her point of view)
        1. Sensitivity to others' needs, accepting of their feelings are hallmarks of empathy
        2. Providing support does not mean you must also endorse individual's behavior
      2. Practice withholding judgment
      3. Strive for honesty
      4. Approach others as equals
      5. Express opinions tentatively
    2. Conversational skills
      1. Principles of making conversation
        1. Give others your attention and respect
        2. Focus on other person instead of yourself
        3. Use nonverbal cues to communicate interest in other person
      2. Breaking the ice in conversation
        1. Use ritual questions (e.g., "Are you from around here?")
        2. Ask for information
        3. Give a compliment
        4. Use humor
        5. Use current events
        6. Try being direct
    3. Self-disclosure: the voluntary act of verbally communicating information about yourself to another person
      1. Is of critical importance to psychological adjustment
        1. Sharing problems with others plays key role in mental health
        2. Emotional self-disclosures lead to feelings of closeness
        3. Self-disclosure in romantic relationships is related to relationship satisfaction
      2. Reducing the risks of self-disclosure
        1. Good idea to use the strategy of gradual self-disclosure
        2. Pays to be discriminating about sharing personal information
          1. Pay attention to verbal, nonverbal cues from conversational partner
          2. Look for reciprocation of self-disclosure
      3. Self-disclosure and relationship development
        1. Emotional disclosures lead to feelings of closeness
        2. Self-disclosure varies over course of relationship, with higher levels at beginning
        3. Movement away from equal exchanges of self-disclosure based on needs that emerge as relationship develops
          1. Need for support
          2. Need for privacy
        4. Self-disclosure changes when relationships are in distress
      4. Culture, gender, and self-disclosure
        1. Individualistic and collectivistic societies show differences in self-disclosure
        2. In United States, women tend to self-disclose more than men, although difference is not as large as once believed
          1. Difference is greatest in same-gender relationships
          2. Gender differences are attributed to socialization
          3. Men tend to self-disclose more with strangers
    4. Effective listening
      1. Three main points to keep in mind
        1. Communicate your interest in the speaker by using nonverbal cues
        2. Engage in active listening
          1. Pay careful attention, process information
          2. Ask for clarification
          3. Use paraphrasing
        3. Pay attention to nonverbal signals
      2. Key is to devote active effort to task
  4. Communication problems
    1. Communication apprehension: anxiety caused by having to talk with others
      1. Bodily experiences include increases in heart rate, cold hands, dry mouth
      2. Four responses to communication apprehension
        1. Communication avoidance
        2. Communication withdrawal
        3. Communication disruption
        4. Excessive communication
      3. People with high levels of communication apprehension are likely to have difficulties in interpersonal relationships
    2. Barriers to effective communication
      1. Defensiveness
        1. The most basic barrier to effective communication
        2. Threat need not be real to elicit defensive behavior
      2. Motivational distortion
        1. People sometimes hear what they want to hear
        2. Selective attention may cause distortion
        3. Tendency to distort occurs most often in discussions of issues that people feel strongly about (e.g., politics)
      3. Self-preoccupation
        1. Self-preoccupied people rarely listen attentively
        2. Self-preoccupied people can cause negative reactions in others
          1. Content of remarks is usually self-serving
          2. Take up more than their share of conversation time
      4. Game playing
        1. First described by Eric Berne (1964), who originated transactional analysis
        2. Games: manipulative interactions progressing toward a predictable outcome, in which people conceal their real motivations
          1. Involve use of ambiguous, indirect, or deceptive statements
          2. Games are destructive element in relationships
      5. Collusion
        1. Collusion: when two people have an unspoken agreement to deny some problematic aspect of reality in order to sustain their relationship
        2. Involves mutual denial, suppression of discussion
  5. Interpersonal conflict: exists whenever two or more people disagree
    1. Beliefs about conflict
      1. Although many people assume that conflict is bad, it is neither inherently bad nor inherently good
      2. Collectivistic cultures often avoid conflict, whereas individualistic cultures tend to encourage direct confrontations
      3. When dealt with constructively, interpersonal conflict can lead to valuable outcomes
        1. Bring problems out into the open
        2. Put an end to chronic sources of discontent in relationship
        3. Lead to new insights
    2. Types of conflict
      1. Pseudoconflict
        1. A false conflict
        2. Key to management is to recognize game, avoid being drawn in
      2. Fact-based conflicts
        1. Disagreement about issues of factual nature
        2. Check facts, don't dwell on who was right and wrong
      3. Policy conflicts
        1. Disagreements about how to handle a situation
        2. Best solutions usually address the problem and the feelings of both parties involved.
      4. Value conflicts
        1. Disagreements on personal values (e.g., religion, politics)
        2. A particular problem in intimate relationships
        3. People may have to take turns obliging each other
        4. May be best to match up with person who has similar values
      5. Ego conflicts
        1. People tend to view outcome as measure of self-worth
        2. Associated with negative personal judgments
        3. Key is to recognize them, return to content level
    3. Styles of managing conflict
      1. Two dimensions underlie the different styles
        1. Interest in satisfying one's own concerns
        2. Interest in satisfying other's concerns
      2. The five styles
        1. Avoidance
          1. Characterized by low concern for self and others
          2. Generally just delays the inevitable clash
        2. Accommodation
          1. Low concern for self, high concern for others
          2. May lead to feelings of resentment
        3. Competition
          1. High concern for self, low concern for others
          2. Likely to lead to post-conflict tension, resentment
        4. Compromise
          1. Moderate concern for self and others
          2. A pragmatic approach that is fairly constructive
        5. Collaboration
          1. High concern for self and others
          2. Involves a sincere effort to find solution that will maximize satisfaction of both parties
          3. Most productive approach for dealing with conflict
    4. Dealing constructively with conflict
      1. General principles
        1. Approach other person as equal
        2. Define conflict as mutual problem
        3. Choose mutually acceptable time to work on resolving conflict
        4. Show respect for other person's position
        5. Communicate your willingness to modify your position
      2. Explicit guidelines
        1. Make communication open, honest
        2. Phrase statements about other person's annoying habits in terms of specific behaviors, not global traits
        3. Avoid "loaded" words
        4. Use positive approach
        5. Limit complaints to recent behavior, present situation
        6. Assume responsibility for own feelings, preferences
    5. Public communication in an adversarial culture
      1. According to sociolinguist Deborah Tannen, contemporary America is "the argument culture"
      2. Contributing factors
        1. Adversarial nature of America's individualistic culture
        2. Tendency to see things in terms of opposites (e.g., good versus bad)
        3. Face-to-face communication is on decline
          1. As function of advances in technology
          2. People spend more time on their own, don't learn to interact effectively with others
        4. Exposure to high levels of physical, verbal aggression, especially on television
          1. Contributes to development of aggressiveness in some children
          2. Viewers become desensitized to violence
      3. Restoring productive public communication
        1. Social institutions (e.g., government, media) could institute changes
        2. Individuals can create positive interpersonal climate
        3. Parents have special role
          1. Can limit children's exposure to physical, verbal aggression
          2. Can encourage non-aggressive ways of resolving childhood conflicts
  6. Application: Developing an assertive communication style
    1. The nature of assertiveness (acting in your own best interests by expressing your thoughts and feelings directly and honestly)
      1. Submissive communication is consistently giving in to others on points of contention
      2. Aggressive communication
        1. Not the same as assertive communication
        2. Involves an intention to hurt or harm another
      3. Assertive communication is more adaptive than either submissive or aggressive communication
    2. Steps in assertiveness training
      1. Understand what assertive communication is
        1. Process can be critical for people to whom assertive communication is unfamiliar
        2. Should use consistent nonverbal messages
      2. Monitor your assertive communication
      3. Observe a model's assertive communication
      4. Practice assertive communication
      5. Adopt an assertive attitude