Interpersonal Communication in Relationships
Interpersonal communication is believed to be present since the beginning of human life on earth. However, it has always been marked with certain issues such as ineffective communication, wrongfully used communicational tools, and its detrimental impact on relations. Communication and relation are strongly interdependent. This paper sets out to find out the solutions to these communicational problems with respect to their influence on relations. Both examples from existing literature as well as personal experience will be utilized to reach the most appropriate conclusion.
Techniques utilized for interpersonal communication usually shape or direct our relations. It is the gap or lapse of communication that lead to disputes. On the other hand, careful use of communicational devices can strengthen the roots of relationships. The aim of this paper is to provide an understanding to the linkage between Interpersonal Communication (IPC), and relations and to analyze its influential role. For the convenience of understating, the paper has been broken down into two major sections. The first section is dealing with the topic in the light of existing studies made on it. In this section, it is tried to justify the validity of the study by analyzing its scope. Furthermore, it is also targeted to identify the areas where there is a gap in the literature to assess future directions of research on the case of the study. The second section is the elaboration of personal experience and the lesson learned from this experience of IPC. At the end, conclusive opinion is presented basing on the core findings of the study.
According to a generalized idea, the need for communication can be associated with four factors including physical need, identify need, social need, and practical goals. According to the school of thought that pioneered this theory, “we communicate because we” want to survive and spend a healthy life that refers to the physical need for communication (Knapp, & Daly, 2002). Identity need means that it is only through the way a person communicates that can determine his true identity as wise or stupid person. In the social context of the need for communication, it is proved that none can manage to live without interacting with society. The man has certain needs associated with his social fellows, and these needs can only be addressed if they are properly communicated (DeVito, 2007). Finally, practical goals refer to the career achievements. And, a person uses communication as the most powerful tool to assert his capability and skills so that he may smoothen his way towards advancement by making other realize his core capabilities through communication. This concept, related to the need for communication, is a universally applied phenomenon (Adler, and Proctor, 2013).
Misconceptions about Communication
There are many misconceptions prevailed about communication such as “meanings lye in words”. Adler and Proctor (2013), counter this misconception with their theory according to which, too much communication is not always good. There are many situations where over communication over any issue lead to further controversies instead of resolving that particular issue. Then, the authors reject the idea that communication is the solution to all problems. They explained by giving the example of an instructor and student where the student asks the instructor to explain the reason for his obtaining poor grade in undertaken exams despite his great expectations. The instructor can do nothing other than showing him the reasons leaving his query unanswered. Adler and Proctor (2013), also protest against the common misconception that meanings lie in words. According to the authors’ viewpoint, it is an utter wrong way of thinking. The reason is that the addressee may derive totally different (or may be opposite) meanings from the words spoken by an addresser with good intention. Furthermore, the authors establish that straightforward and clear communication is not always good, and there are many cases in which it is rather harmful and injurious. In routine life, there are many examples in which the people ask their friends how they look in new dress or pair of shoes. The friends, instead of giving a critical and clear reply, will be appreciating their choice to keep their heart from breaking (had they been true and clear). So, these are some of the misconceptions about the use of interpersonal communication. So, a person can hope to enjoy a balanced life basing on the balanced way of communication if he sticks to the recommendations by the authors in response to these misconceptions.
Importance of Communication for Relations
Many critics and scholars have pen down their ideas and analysis regarding the interpersonal relationship in the light of various studies. For example, Nicotera (1993) is of the view that relations need coordination for the development of understanding in them. And, the level of coordination is based on the level of communication between them. A proper mechanism for interpersonal communication can address all the requirements of the movements and the actions directed towards coordination. In simple words, if person is involved in different relations such as between father and mother, sister and brother, husband and wife, two friends, and any other type can communicate their concerns with each other in a proper way, it will be strengthening their bonds. The findings of the authors are based on two different questionnaires interlinked with each other, out of which one is focused on “Friend” while other is dealing with “Mate”. The first questionnaire (Friend) was targeted on 29 participants, and 31 respondents took part in the second questionnaire (Mate). A Higher percentage of the participants voted for the strong relationship between interpersonal communication and relations and regarded the miscommunication as responsible factors behind quarrels and breakups among relations.
Lavoi, Jowett, & Lavallee (2007), has conducted designed a deep study on the basis of his extensive research in the field of interpersonal communication in the relationship. They have been focusing on the relation between a coach and athlete. For this purpose, he has explained every takeaway regarding the case of the study quite clearly and in a simple manner by defining each existing or self-created term used in his book. He holds that conflicts weaken relationships, and it is communication that brings about conflicts and disputes. The findings of his study show that some of the most successful athletes have enjoyed excellent relation with their coaches due to the excellent quality of interaction. To say differently, much of the credit for their success goes to interpersonal communication, which is at the bottom of their solid understanding with their masters. Then, Steward (2002), in his book, “Bridges not Walls” has thrown ample light in the case of this study. He has adopted comprehensive approach towards the matter by taking help from various disciplines such as psychology, social science, communication, and philosophy. The author’s viewpoint is very similar to the perception of Lavoi, Jowett, & Lavallee (2007) because he also finds the quality of communication essential to the harmony of relations. To him, also the differences are the result of either gap of communication or miscommunication. Both these situations can lead to extensively unfavorable conditions for relations and put a question mark on their validity and survival.
Evolution of Interpersonal Communication in Relations
Communication has always played a key role in shaping the relations according to the way in which this tool (interpersonal communication) is utilized. It has been the basic cause of every kind of major conflict as well as behind every kind of relational strength. With the passage of time, people have started to realize the importance of IPC, and this realization has given vent to a plethora of debates and studies on it. Now, it is more evident than ever before that communication is essential to the survival and stability of relations. If anybody wants to save his marriage, friendship, or any other relation, he has to communicate the underlying issues. And, it is the quality or demerit of his way of communication that can either save or destroy (respectively) that particular relation (Cahn, 2013).
Parks (2010) connects the evolution of interpersonal communication with Darwin’s theory of evolution in an interesting manner. According to the authors, the evolution of communication is the result of psychological adaptation, and this psychological adaptation is not much different from the bodily evolutionary adaptation. This psychological adaptation has opened up new doors towards new directions for communication. Now the people have begun to understand the psychological needs of each other in a more definite way that ever before basing on past experiences. He names this psychological evolution “Evolved Psychological Mechanism”, or EPM in short. In a nutshell, the realization towards interpersonal communication has evolved handsomely with the passage of time, and in the modern age, people are using evolved techniques to avoid the sloppiness shown by their predecessors.
Once, I have experienced a great dispute with one of my best friends that ultimately led to the separation. What happened was that he inquired me one day about my opinion regarding relations. I replied according to my perception, and it was that, to me, there is a circle around every relation. In simple words, no relation is boundless no matter how deep it can be. He further asked, “And, what do you think about the relation between you and me, is it not an exception?” I promptly replied with “no,” which filled him with emotional fury, and he bade me final goodbye by saying that there is no use of sustaining a relation that has a circle around it.
The experience certainly aligns with the underlying case of the study, which is the role of interpersonal communication in the relationship. As discussed earlier that clarity can be harmful in many cases even though it is taken quite positively (Adler, and Proctor, 2013). There are cases where it has broken the hearts of people, as in the case of my personal experience (as mentioned above).
My specific goal associated with my critical answers to two of simple questions asked by my friend in a casual manner was to describe clearly my personal perception of the relationship. I was also willing to stay honest with him, in this case, as I usually do. I could not avoid the clear way of answering despite being aware of the danger (of losing him). Now the question arises if it should be regarded as a success or not. The simple answer to this query is “no”. Even though earlier on I was proud of staying honest despite losing him. However, with the passage of time (as I grew in experience), I learned that it was an utter blunder that could have been avoided quite easily.
The mind tool that I used in that particular situation was clarity, which did not match the requirement of that situation. As Alder and Proctor (2013), state that clarity should be avoided in a situation where the survival of relation is the priority. It would have certainly been better if I had sacrificed clarity and consciences in favor of courtesy and kindness on that occasion by declaring our relation an exception (in response to his close ended question).
It shows that we need to adopt a diversified approach towards communication and should not apply a single combination of selected tools on each occasion uniformly. In the situation, where there is a fear of losing a precious relation, the clarity must be replaced by vagueness. Similarly, all other tools of communication should be used in situations where they are useful and avoided where they stand harmful.
Literature abounds in studies on the underlying topic related to interpersonal communication. Numerous scholars and critics have shown their keen interest and insight into the matter. However, there is a gap in the coverage of explorative topics such as the proper way of communication between father and son, father and daughter, two friends, two sisters, two brothers, brother and sister, and husband and wife.
Future scholars should try to cover this gap by narrowing down their scope of research on the subtopics of IPC as mentioned above. It will give even more exact and specific idea of diversification of interaction with respect to different relations.
Adler, R., & Proctor II, R. (2013). Looking out, looking in. Cengage Learning.
Cahn, D. D. (2013). Intimates in conflict: A communication perspective. Routledge.
DeVito, J. A. (2007). Interpersonal communication. New York: Longman Inc.
Knapp, M. L., & Daly, J. A. (2002). Handbook of interpersonal communication. Sage.
LaVoi, N. M., Jowett, S., & Lavallee, D. (2007). Interpersonal communication and conflict in the coach-athlete relationship. Social psychology in sport, 29-40.
Nicotera, A. M. (1993). Interpersonal communication in friend and mate relationships. SUNY Press.
Parks, M. (2010). New Directions in Interpersonal Communication Research‐Edited by Sandi W. Smith & Steven R. Wilson (Eds.). Journal of Communication, 60(1), E9-E11.
Stewart, J. R. (Ed.). (2002). Bridges not walls: A book about interpersonal communication. McGraw-Hill.