A number of scholars, studying language-thought-behaviour relationships, found answers to overcome some of the challenges in effective interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication can be defined as the communication between two or more people. It happens everywhere; whether it is at home, at playschool, in school or college, at office or at social gatherings. While the way people speak remains the same, it is the way it is spoken in different situations and places that it differs. According to Ramaraju (2012), “interpersonal communication has become important because of globalization, as it deals with all aspects of life, and is meaningful only in its context.” The importance of interpersonal communication has been growing ever since business styles have changed all over the world. Today, both, the developed and the developing countries, work together on equal terms to gain economic independence. A lot of importance is given to the development of unity among employees, employers and employees, organizations, countries, and customers. Unless there is a common ground, it becomes difficult for people to work together, thus leading to confusion. There are a number of challenges to improve interpersonal communication in today’s global business environment. Some of these include, “different cultures, global business system, organizational changes, specialization of work, and introduction of new technology at the workplace,” say Ramaraju (2012). An American psychiatrist, Jurgen Ruesch (1961), identified a number of methods to understand communication. Some of these include, “architectural, anthropological, psychological, and political.” Communication reflects the personal behaviour of a person, as well as his or her social affiliation.
Social affiliation means, the kind of lifestyle that person lives in. We have high-class, middle-class, and lower-class of people, and each of these classes have a different way of living. Therefore, since their association or friends belong to that section of society, they will obviously use a different language while communicating with others. The kind of interpersonal communication that two friends or a group of friends have, will be different from the kind of interpersonal communication that two or more people working in an office will have. A friend can create an impact on others within their circle of friends, and this is present in people in their teens or adolescence. It is common to see teens trying to impress their friends by copying the moves, or their way of expressing words, like a famous person they idolize. By imitating or copying such behaviour over a period of time, this style becomes a part of their character. In addition to that, there is also the possibility that people can get influenced by others within their group because of their long association with them. For example, a group of scholars would, during their meetings discuss on subjects that are common to them, and something that they are currently researching on, while another group of boys might spend time with their friends talking about sports, movies or other common activities. It would be difficult for a scholar to join a group of boys and talk to them on a common subject, and the same would be the case for a boy to join a group of scholars in discussing research. Therefore, when a group of people join together, they will develop characteristics that are common to them. The relationship that these teens or adolescents build shows their social affiliation. The languages the teens use, and the language the scholars use, are entirely different. According to Skinner (1974), “in the end, one finds him or herself dealing with two events; the emotional and physical behaviors, to suit the conditions around them.” For example, when a teen, after passing out of college begins to work, he or she will be overwhelmed by anxiety and fear, as they are unaccustomed to such an alien atmosphere. They quickly try and change their behavior to meet the needs of that alien environment. The teen will have to overcome the anxiety and fear by adjusting his or her behavior to suit the new environment. Thus, the teen has to change his behavior, and also his or her language to remain in the new group.
McGhee (2001), in ‘Thinking Psychologically,’ says that when one learns about new practices, they try to understand it, and then practice it. The process of understanding this new practice, and putting it to use, is sometimes referred to as equilibration. The same principle applies to adults in their learning. The same principle applies on how interpersonal communication and behavior development among colleagues occur in office. Festinger & Thibaut (1965), say that small face-to-face groups “play an important part in influencing attitudes and opinions of their members.” The continued use of informal communication among the group members in part represents a way to influence the other members in the group. This can be illustrated by citing the example of groups or teams working together in companies. When they are given a project, each member of the team or group will take a part of the project, and discuss their part with the other members of that group. This way, each member will express their roles in a language that is common to all others within the group or team.
One of the biggest challenges small and medium-sized organizations have today is that they have to compete in the highly competitive, global business environment. This is a serious challenge to them, and only those organizations that can withstand such intense competition will survive. As progress is directly related to performance, employees and employers need to understand their priorities, and work together to achieve third organization’s objective. This is where interpersonal communication becomes important. Managers must be able to communicate with their co-workers and effectively segregate work so that the co-workers will be able to work as a team and increase quality and production. Also, when working in groups, unless the members are able to discuss and understand each other’s role effectively, work will be affected.
Bambacas and Patrickson (1996) in Journal of Communication Management, say that investigation into “understanding interpersonal communication touched interpersonal communication skills.” This view is further substantiated and supported by Larry A. Samovar and Richard E. Porter (1991:p.8), who believe that “communication is a dynamic transactional behavior-affecting process where people behave intentionally in order to induce or elicit a particular response from another person.” This clearly exemplifies the role of interpersonal communication in organizations. It is important for managers to take the time to sit down and talk to their staff on a regular basis, so that they can understand what drives their employees.
There are quite a few environmentally significant behaviors attributed to an individual in the development of his or her interpersonal communication. This was addressed through situations arising out of workplace relationships and work environment. It is found that while interpersonal communication is important to individuals in all spheres of life, it differed in terms of their environment and social condition.
Bambacas, M, and Patrickson, M, (2008) Interpersonal communication skills that enhance organisational commitment, Journal of Communication Management, ISSN: 1363- 254X, DOI: 10.1108/13632540810854235, Vol. 12(1), p.51- 72
Festinger, L, and Thibaut, J, (1964), Journal of abnormal psychology, ISSN 0021-843X, 01/1951, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp. 92 - 99
McGhee, P. Dr., (2001), Thinking Psychologically, Palgrave Publishing, ISBN-10: 033373596X
Ramaraju, S, (2012), Psychological Perspectives on Interpersonal Communication, Research World, Educational Research Multimedia & Publications, ISSN 22294686, p.6
Skinner, B. F, (1974), About behaviorism, New York: Knopf