First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your engagement and upcoming marriage. I wish you all the best in your new life as husband and wife. Marriage is a life-long commitment that requires a lot of work from both parties involved. One of the key things in making a marriage work is effective communication. Communication should be open and truthful at all times, and this may at times prove difficult. You may not always agree on all things and it is therefore important for you to be willing to compromise and effectively communicate your wishes to each other. This is the first step towards a fulfilling marriage. In this letter, I will address five important issues in interpersonal communication.
- Principles and misconceptions in effective interpersonal communications
There are several principles which guide interpersonal communication. Although the principles are simple, they may take a lifetime to master. In a marriage setting, the first principle is that interpersonal communication is inescapable. It is impossible to have a working marriage without interpersonal communication. However, it is important to understand the various levels of communication and their interpretation.
Communication is not only verbal, but it can also be seen through body language, facial expressions, and the tone of voice used. It is a well known fact that people communicate more honestly through nonverbal communication than they do through their words. Non-verbal communication encompasses eye-contact, body posture, and other subtle mannerisms that are not expressed explicitly.
Although someone may not say directly that they are ignoring you, their non-verbal communication says it all. It is impossible to fake non-verbal communication. For example, when someone is answering you without maintaining eye contact, it could indicate that they are not honest with their answer, especially if they are fidgeting as they give the answer. It could also indicate that they are hiding something from you. Again, it is not possible to hide a sarcastic look on the face, or a sarcastic voice tone. This is an indicator that the other person has agreed with what you are telling them half-heartedly, or they are not convinced about what you have just said.
Conventionally, communication is both verbal and non-verbal. However, the lack of communication is also another “form” of communication. It could mean that the other person is deliberately ignoring you, is shy, angry or too busy to keep the conversation going. Within a marriage setting, the lack of communication could indicate lack of interest. It could also be an indication that the other party feels belittled and hopes to use the lack of communication to pass the message to you that they are not happy. However, no matter the type of communication expressed, it is always important to recognize the fact that interpersonal communication is paramount for a happy marriage.
The second principle of interpersonal communication which needs to be understood by all is that communication is irreversible. Once something has been said, it cannot be taken back. Even if you apologize, or regret uttering some words, the words can never be taken back. As a result, it is very important to always choose words carefully. It is also quite complicated as you must always learn what is appropriate for which audience, context or time. It is often easy to be misunderstood. You must treat others respectfully in your communication, avoid interrupting each other, learn to say appropriate things and avoid words that sound judgmental or condescending in your communication.
The third most important principle is that interpersonal communication has endless complexity. There is no form of communication which is simple. There are several reasons why communication takes place in a given setting, how the message is delivered, and how the message is interpreted. Words have different meanings to different people, and the interpretation of words also differs depending on the people. Consequently, it is essential to have in mind how some sensitive words are said and where they are said because any misunderstanding affects reception and interpretation of the message by the other party. After understanding the principles of communication, the next important thing is to understand misconceptions in interpersonal communication.
There are several misconceptions in interpersonal communication. The most common type of misconception is generalization. In most cases, people communicate with others based on the experiences they had with other people. As a result, previous experiences with other people become points of reference. Consequently, this leads to stereotyping people subconsciously depending on their gender, race, age or religion.
Sometimes, people carry with them certain preconceptions about what others think or are likely to think, and this affects interpersonal communication because we moderate the tone of conversation according to what we think is appropriate to the person we are communicating with. Unfortunately, our preconceptions about other people are wrong, and this leads to misunderstanding. In the end, communication will not take place because the message will be inappropriate. The only means to avoid generalization and improve our interpersonal communication is by starting interpersonal communications with an open mind.
Another misconception about interpersonal communication is that a few white lies are harmless. However, that is not true. Lies destroy trust in a relationship and this can ruin the entire marriage.
- Barriers to effective interpersonal interactions
There are many barriers to effective interpersonal communication. The barriers can be physical (for example distance), psychological, physiological, emotional, cultural, attitudinal or systemic. Barriers to effective interpersonal communication prevent the reception of message the way the sender intended it, and subsequent misinterpretation of the message.
Language barriers to effective interpersonal communication do not result from speaking different languages only; they also occur when people who speak the same language use terminology or jargon that is not clear to the end user. As a result, the receiver of the message does not get the intended meaning. However, this is avoidable if the sender of the message uses a concise and clear message that will not confuse the user. Psychological barriers, on the other hand, occur when the receiver is preoccupied with personal concerns. For example, someone might be stressed or angry, and this state predisposes them to misinterpret the words said by others.
Physiological barriers result when the receiver’s physical state is limited in one way or another. For example, if the receiver of the message is partially deaf, some words spoken to him/her may not be audible enough, or they may sound different from what the speaker said. Consequently, interpretation of the message will not be as intended. Attitudinal barriers, on the other hand, result from individual perceptions, and this leads to preconceptions about other people. The best means to eliminate attitudinal barriers is through overcoming one’s negative attitudes which prevent effective interpersonal communication.
Lastly, systemic barriers occur when the individuals do not know their roles in the communication process. As a result, interpersonal communication will always be inefficient or inappropriate. However, many of the barriers to effective communication can be eliminated through communicating with an open mind, and through avoiding any misleading generalizations.
- How words have the power to create and affect attitudes, behavior, and perception
The effect of words in communication is profound. Words have the power to persuade, inform, ease pain, hurt, start a war, end a war, heal or kill. They could be used to get a point across or eliminate any hope of that point ever being understood. One must at all times learn to choose the right words as they could affect the other person’s attitudes and beliefs, their behavior and even the manner in which they perceive their partner. All words spoken in the marriage setting should be fueled by love and must not bring any harm to the other partner. Positive words create a positive attitude and vice versa. They should build and not destroy, enlighten and not mock the other partner’s intelligence.
The reason why words are so powerful is because they affect people’s perception of reality. For example, if someone comes across as untrustworthy through his/her words, then it becomes difficult to trust that person, irrespective of their level of trustworthiness. A single word uttered can be the difference. Words which make the difference create what psychologists call primacy effect. Overcoming negative primacy is not impossible, but it takes time. For example, if someone was previously perceived to be untrustworthy, that perception can change if you meet with them on several occasions and that instance of untrustworthiness does not come up. The gist of this is that you should consider how your words impact your audience. Again, it is important to select words which emphasize your message to get the desired impact.
- Emotional intelligence and its role in effective interpersonal relationships
Emotional intelligence is the ability to assess and control emotions. It is very important in interpersonal communication as it enables the couple to know what to say and when to say it based on their assessment of the other person’s emotions. Emotional intelligence does not come from scoring highly in SATs, but from understanding how to interact with others and how to build interpersonal relationships. This explains why some people may be excellent in class, but failures in the real worlds, especially with regards to building interpersonal relationships with others.
Having positive emotions, being emotionally stable and secure attachment styles leads to happier marriages and high quality relationships. Being able to recognize the emotions of one’s spouse is essential for a happy marriage. People with higher emotional intelligence tend to relate better with other people, especially with members of the opposite sex. It also leads to less conflict in the relationship.
The reason why emotional intelligence is emphasized in marriage is because it enables individuals to listen learn, and understand the people they communicate with in a better way. Additionally, emotional intelligence eliminates many barriers to effective interpersonal communication. Consequently, married couples are able to communicate better, resolve their conflicts and build their marriage. The secret lies in dissociating feelings and emotions from the interpersonal communication process because it is difficult to communicate effectively with individuals who are not in control of their emotions. If your emotions affect the way you communicate, then emotional intelligence would be useful in making interpersonal communication work for you.
- Impact of gender and culture on interpersonal communications
Men and women differ in how they communicate. These differences are seen in their body language, behavior, speech patterns and facial expressions. In most cases, the differences in body language, facial expressions and patterns of speech are not oblivious to members of the opposite sex, and this leads to the wrong interpretation. A perception maybe generated that something is wrong; however, the truth of the matter is that the individual has not grasped the meaning implied by the partner. This makes the manner in which they perceive things different, and this could interfere with their communication. Men are more direct in their communication while women rely heavily on non- verbal cues. This could easily give the wrong meaning to the implied message. It is therefore necessary for the couple to learn to understand each other’s verbal and non-verbal cues to avoid misunderstandings.
Again, it is important to be aware of what people of different cultures mean though their verbal and non-verbal communication. Some words which seem harmless in a certain culture maybe offensive when used in another culture, and the same case applies to the use of gestures. As a result, couples from different cultures or backgrounds needs to be aware of those offensive words or gestures which could offend their partners.
Effective communication is essential for a happy marriage. It is therefore necessary for the two of you to work hard at it and ensure that you put these tips to good use and have a happy marriage. All the best as you start your new life together. Emotional is necessary in marriage as it eliminates many of the barriers to effective interpersonal communication and improves the level of communication. The bottom-line is that couples need to be aware of what works well for them, and this will guarantee better interpersonal communication within the marriage and a happy marriage.
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