Chapter 11 Communication in Close Relationship Question

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Need help with my Social Science question - I’m studying for my class.

This week we will cover Chapter 11: Communication in Close Relationships: Friends, Family, and Romantic Partners:

Communication in friendships

Communication in the family

Communication in romantic relationships

Please post a one-sentence question you hope will be answered in this Module or the assigned reading.

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Interplay Interplay The Process of Interpersonal Communication FOURTEENTH EDITION Ronald B. Adler Santa Barbara City College Lawrence B. Rosenfeld The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Russell F. Proctor II Northern Kentucky University New York • Oxford OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © 2018, 2015, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2004, 2001 by Oxford University Press For titles covered by Section 112 of the US Higher Education Opportunity Act, please visit www.oup.com/us/he for the latest ­ ­information about pricing and alternate formats. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Adler, Ronald B. (Ronald Brian), 1946– author. | Rosenfeld, Lawrence B., author. | Proctor, Russell F., author. Title: Interplay: the process of interpersonal communication / Ronald B. Adler, Santa Barbara City College, Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Russell F. Proctor II, Northern Kentucky University. Description: Fourteenth edition. | New York, NY: Oxford University Press, [2018] Identifiers: LCCN 2017031955 | ISBN 9780190646257 (pbk.) | ISBN 9780190646264 (pbk.) Subjects: LCSH: Interpersonal communication. Classification: LCC BF637.C45 A33 2018 | DDC 302.2—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017031955 987654321 Printed by LSC Communications, United States of America Brief Contents Preface PART PART PART 1 2 3 xv FOUNDATIONS OF INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION 1 Interpersonal Process 3 2 Culture and Interpersonal Communication 37 3 Interpersonal Communication and the Self 4 Perceiving Others 69 103 CREATING AND RESPONDING TO MESSAGES 5 Language 135 6 Nonverbal Communication 7 Listening: Receiving and Responding 195 8 Emotions 227 165 DIMENSIONS OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS 9 Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships 259 10 Communication in Close Relationships: Friends, Family, and Romantic Partners 291 11 Managing Conflict 323 12 Communication Climate Glossary G-1 References R-1 Credits C-1 Author Index AI-1 Subject Index SI-1 353 Contents Preface xv PART 1 FOUNDATIONS OF INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION 1 Interpersonal Process 3 Why We Communicate 4 Physical Needs 5 Identity Needs 6 Social Needs 7 Practical Needs 8 FEATURES MEDIA CLIP: Solitude and Connection: Wild 6 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Loneliness and the Internet: A Delicate Balance 7 AT WORK: Communication and Career Advancement 9 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Tweeting: The Channel Affects the Message 12 MEDIA CLIP: Pathologically Competent: House of Cards 22 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Your Use of Social Media 24 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: ­Sidestepping Permanence: The Attraction of Snapchat 27 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Men Read Mean Tweets to Female Sports Reporters” 31 2 The Communication Process 9 Early Models of Communication 9 Insights from the Transactional Communication Model Communication Principles 13 The Nature of Interpersonal Communication 15 Communication Misconceptions 17 Communication Competence 19 Principles of Communication Competence 19 Characteristics of Competent Communication 21 Social Media and Interpersonal Communication Characteristics of Social Media 23 Social Media and Relational Quality 28 Communicating Competently with Social Media CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING KEY TERMS 34 ACTIVITIES 34 29 33 Culture and Interpersonal Communication 37 Culture and Communication 38 Culture and Co-Culture 38 Intercultural Communication vi 10 40 23 CO N T EN T S MEDIA CLIP: Embracing Tradition and Change: Meet the Patels 39 Interpersonal and Intercultural Dimensions of Communication 42 Intercultural Differences as Generalizations 43 MEDIA CLIP: Straddling Cultures: ­black-ish 49 Cultural Values and Norms FEATURES DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: When “Harmless” Labels Do Harm 50 AT WORK: Organizations Are Cultures 55 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Saying “I’m Sorry” in Japanese and English: ­Different Codes 58 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: What Is Your Intercultural Communication Competence? 60 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Momondo: The DNA Journey” 62 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Living in Another Culture: Adapting and Adopting 63 43 High Versus Low Context 43 Individualism Versus Collectivism 44 Power Distance 46 Uncertainty Avoidance 47 Achievement Versus Nurturing 48 Co-Cultures and Communication 48 Race and Ethnicity 48 Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation 50 Age/Generation 51 (Dis)abilities 52 Socioeconomic Status 53 Codes and Culture 54 Verbal Codes 54 Nonverbal Codes 58 Developing Intercultural Communication Competence 59 Motivation and Attitude 60 Tolerance for Ambiguity 61 Open-Mindedness 61 Knowledge and Skill 62 Patience and Perseverance 63 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 64 KEY TERMS 65 ACTIVITIES 3 66 Interpersonal Communication and the Self 69 Communication and the Self-Concept 70 How the Self-Concept Develops 71 Characteristics of the Self-Concept 73 The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and Communication 76 vii viii CONTENTS FEATURES Presenting the Self FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Does Instagram = #Instasad? 73 Public and Private Selves 78 Characteristics of Impression Management 79 Face-to-Face Impression Management 80 Impression Management in Social Media 80 Impression Management and Honesty 83 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Dove Evolution Commercial” 74 MEDIA CLIP: Reflecting Years of ­Appraisal: This Is Us 75 AT WORK: Impression Management in the Workplace 81 MEDIA CLIP: The Promise and Perils of Online Relationships: Catfish: The TV Show 82 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Talking Frankly About STDs 90 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Online and Offline Self-Disclosure 93 77 Disclosing the Self 84 Self-Disclosure Factors 85 Models of Self-Disclosure 86 Benefits and Risks of Self-Disclosure 88 Guidelines for Self-Disclosure 91 Alternatives to Self-Disclosure 93 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 98 KEY TERMS 99 ACTIVITIES 100 4 Perceiving Others 103 The Perception Process 104 Reality Is Constructed 104 Steps in the Perception Process 106 FEATURES FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Online Channels Affect Perception 108 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “All That We Share” 110 AT WORK: Sexual Harassment and Perception 115 MEDIA CLIP: Master of Perception: Sherlock 118 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Hurtful Communication: A Matter of Perception 122 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Distorting Perception: The Gaslight Effect 126 MEDIA CLIP: Gaining Empathy: ­Undercover Boss 128 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Your Empathy Quotient 129 Influences on Perception 110 Access to Information 110 Physiological Influences 110 Psychological Influences 112 Social Influences 113 Cultural Influences 117 Common Tendencies in Perception 118 We Make Snap Judgments 119 We Cling to First Impressions 120 We Judge Ourselves More Charitably Than We Do Others 121 We Are Influenced by Our Expectations 122 We Are Influenced by the Obvious 123 We Assume Others Are Like Us 123 Synchronizing Our Perceptions 124 Perception Checking 124 Building Empathy 126 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 130 KEY TERMS 131 ACTIVITIES 131 CO N T EN T S PART 2 ix CREATING AND RESPONDING TO MESSAGES 5 Language 135 The Nature of Language 136 Language Is Symbolic 136 Language Is Rule-Governed 137 Language Is Subjective 139 Language and Worldview 139 FEATURES MEDIA CLIP: Invented Languages: Game of Thrones 137 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: The Negative Consequences of Fat Talk 141 AT WORK: Swearing on the Job 144 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Sorry, Not Sorry 145 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Sexist Language 146 The Impact of Language 141 Naming and Identity 141 Affiliation 142 Power and Politeness 143 Sexism and Racism 145 Precision and Vagueness 148 The Language of Responsibility 152 Gender and Language 156 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Vague Facebook Posts—Congressional Hearings” 149 Extent of Gender Differences 156 Non-Gender Influences on Language Use 158 MEDIA CLIP: Damning with Faint Praise: Florence Foster Jenkins 151 Social Media and Language FOCUS ON RESEARCH: The Language of Online Community 159 158 Online Language and Impression Management 158 Online Language and Gender 160 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 161 KEY TERMS 162 ACTIVITIES 6 162 Nonverbal Communication 165 Nonverbal Communication Defined 166 Characteristics of Nonverbal Communication 167 FEATURES FOCUS ON RESEARCH: The Power of Periods. In Texting. 171 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Nonverbal Immediacy Behaviors 174 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Body Language” 175 MEDIA CLIP: A Life of Deception: The Americans 176 MEDIA CLIP: In a Different Voice: Speechless 179 Nonverbal Communication Is Always Occurring 167 Nonverbal Communication Is Primarily Relational 168 Nonverbal Communication Is Ambiguous 169 Nonverbal Communication Occurs in Mediated Messages 170 Nonverbal Communication Is Influenced by Culture and Gender 170 Functions of Nonverbal Communication Creating and Maintaining Relationships 172 Regulating Interaction 173 Influencing Others 175 Influencing Ourselves 175 172 x CONTENTS FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Nonverbal Imitation: The Sincerest Form of Flattery 180 Concealing/Deceiving 175 Managing Impressions 177 AT WORK: Let Your Voice Be Heard 183 Types of Nonverbal Communication DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: The Inequality of “Lookism” 188 Body Movement 178 Touch 181 Voice 182 Distance 184 Territoriality 187 Time 187 Physical Attractiveness 188 Clothing 189 Physical Environment 189 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 178 190 KEY TERMS 191 ACTIVITIES 7 192 Listening: Receiving and Responding 195 The Nature of Listening 196 The Importance of Listening 196 Listening Defined 197 Listening Styles 199 FEATURES AT WORK: Listening on the Job 197 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Your Listening Styles 200 MEDIA CLIP: Multifaceted Listening: The Profit 201 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: The Myth of Multitasking 205 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Responding Helps Speakers Tell Their Stories 207 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Brené Brown on Empathy” 215 MEDIA CLIP: Responding Directively: Scandal 219 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Exchanging Advice Online 220 The Challenge of Listening 202 Recognizing Barriers to Listening 202 Avoiding Poor Listening Habits 203 Components of Listening 204 Hearing 204 Attending 204 Understanding 205 Remembering 206 Responding 206 Types of Listening Responses Silent Listening 208 Questioning 209 Paraphrasing 211 Empathizing 214 Supporting 216 Analyzing 218 207 CO N T EN T S Evaluating 218 Advising 219 Which Response Type to Use? 221 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 222 KEY TERMS 223 ACTIVITIES 8 224 Emotions 227 What Are Emotions? FEATURES MEDIA CLIP: Intelligence of Another Variety: The Big Bang Theory 228 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “The Marriage Hack” 231 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Managing Grief with Humor 233 AT WORK: Emotional Labor on the Job 236 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Fictional Characters, Real Feelings: Parasocial Relationships 237 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Your Emotional Intelligence 243 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: When Talking About Feelings Makes Things Worse 252 MEDIA CLIP: Self-Talk and Resilience: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 254 229 Physiological Changes 229 Nonverbal Behavior 230 Cognitive Interpretations 230 Verbal Expression 231 Influences on Emotional Expression 232 Personality 232 Culture 233 Gender 234 Social Conventions and Roles 235 Social Media 235 Emotional Contagion 237 Expressing Emotions Effectively 238 Recognize Your Feelings 238 Choose the Best Language 239 Share Multiple Feelings 241 Recognize the Difference Between Feeling and Acting 242 Accept Responsibility for Your Feelings 242 Choose the Best Time and Place to Express Your Feelings 242 Managing Emotions 244 Facilitative and Debilitative Emotions 244 Thoughts Cause Feelings 245 Irrational Thinking and Debilitative Emotions 247 Minimizing Debilitative Emotions 251 Maximizing Facilitative Emotions 254 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING KEY TERMS 256 ACTIVITIES 256 255 xi xii CONTENTS PART 3 DIMENSIONS OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS 9 Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships 259 Why We Form Relationships FEATURES DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: The Anguish of Abusive Relationships 263 260 Appearance 260 Similarity 261 Complementarity 262 Rewards 262 Competency 264 Proximity 265 Disclosure 265 MEDIA CLIP: The Power and Peril of Disclosure: Homeland 265 Models of Relational Dynamics FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Communicating About Relational Baggage 268 Stages of Relational Development 266 Dialectical Tensions 273 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: The Dialectical Tensions of Cell Phone Use 275 Communicating About Relationships MEDIA CLIP: Finding Connection: ­Trainwreck 276 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Couples Swap Phones and Go Through Each Other’s History” 277 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Relational Maintenance 282 266 278 Content and Relational Messages 278 Maintaining and Supporting Relationships 280 Repairing Damaged Relationships 284 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 287 KEY TERMS 288 ACTIVITIES 288 AT WORK: Relational Repair on the Job 284 10 Communication in Close Relationships: Friends, Family, and Romantic Partners 291 Communication in Friendships 292 FEATURES Types of Friendships 292 Friendships, Gender, and Communication 294 Friendship and Social Media 297 Communication in Successful Friendships 298 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Close Friendships: State of the Union 295 Communication in the Family WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?” 296 AT WORK: Social Media Relationships with Coworkers 300 301 Creating the Family Through Communication 302 Patterns of Family Communication 304 Effective Communication in Families 307 CO N T EN T S MEDIA CLIP: Voluntary Families: Finding Dory 302 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Your Family’s Communication Pattern 307 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Parental Disclosures with Adult Children 309 MEDIA CLIP: Maybe “I Do,” Maybe I Don’t: Married at First Sight 315 Communication in Romantic Relationships CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 319 KEY TERMS 320 ACTIVITIES 320 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Virtually Unfaithful: Emotional Infidelity Online 318 11 Managing Conflict 323 What Is Conflict? FEATURES FOCUS ON RESEARCH: The Dangers of Mind-Reading Expectations 326 MEDIA CLIP: Fighting over Scarce Resources: Empire 327 DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Ghosting: The Ultimate Silent Treatment 329 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Signs You’re the Passive Aggressive Friend” 331 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Your Method of Conflict Resolution 335 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: “We Have to Talk”: Men and Women in Conflict 342 MEDIA CLIP: Hostile Takeover: The Founder 345 AT WORK: Third-Party Dispute Resolution 346 311 Characteristics of Romantic Relationships 312 Effective Communication in Romantic Relationships 316 324 Expressed Struggle 325 Interdependence 325 Perceived Incompatible Goals 325 Perceived Scarce Resources 326 Inevitability 326 Conflict Styles 327 Avoidance (Lose-Lose) 328 Accommodation (Lose-Win) 329 Competition (Win-Lose) 330 Compromise 331 Collaboration (Win-Win) 332 Which Style to Use? 334 Conflict in Relational Systems 336 Complementary and Symmetrical Conflict 336 Serial Arguments 338 Toxic Conflict: The “Four Horsemen” 339 Conflict Rituals 340 Variables in Conflict Styles 341 Gender 341 Culture 343 Conflict Management in Practice CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING KEY TERMS 350 ACTIVITIES 350 344 349 xiii xiv CONTENTS 12 Communication Climate 353 What Is a Communication Climate? 354 How Communication Climates Develop Levels of Message Confirmation 356 Causes and Effects of Defensiveness 361 FEATURES DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION: Cyberbullying: Inflicting Pain Online 355 ASSESSING YOUR COMMUNICATION: Confirming and Disconfirming Communication 358 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: Phubbing: Losing Out to Your Partner’s Phone 359 MEDIA CLIP: Victimized by Aggressiveness: Moonlight 360 FOCUS ON RESEARCH: A Blurt Can Hurt 366 MEDIA CLIP: Changing the Climate, Ever So Slowly: Doc Martin 369 WATCH AND DISCUSS: “Emotional Correctness” 370 Creating Supportive Climates 362 Evaluation Versus Description 363 Control Versus Problem Orientation 364 Strategy Versus Spontaneity 365 Neutrality Versus Empathy 366 Superiority Versus Equality 367 Certainty Versus Provisionalism 368 Invitational Communication 370 The Language of Choice 371 Responding Nondefensively to Criticism 372 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING KEY TERMS 378 ACTIVITIES AT WORK: Taking the High Road: Keeping Cool Under Fire 373 Glossary G-1 References R-1 Credits C-1 Author Index AI-1 Subject Index SI-1 378 377 355 Preface A wise editor once told us that any revision to a successful textbook should be both familiar and fresh. It should include plenty of updated material, but it should retain the essence of its time-tested approach. We have worked hard to make sure this edition of Interplay achieves those goals. This new edition builds on the approach that has served students and professors over almost four decades. The accessible writing style is based on the belief that even complicated ideas can be presented in a straightforward way. A variety of thought-provoking photos, sidebars, and cartoons make the subject more interesting and compelling. In terms of its scholarly grounding, Interplay cites more than 1,500 sources, nearly a third of which are new to this edition. These citations have a strong communication focus, as we continue to spotlight scholarship from our field. Research and theory aren’t presented for their own sake, but rather to explain how the process of interpersonal communication operates in everyday life. NEW IN THIS EDITION One effective way of incorporating new concepts and research is to offer plenty of cutting-edge material in sidebars. Reviewers tell us these sidebars are essential to Interplay’s success, so we’ve updated them across the board. • Focus on Research boxes—18 of which are new to this edition—cover timely subjects including the pros and cons of communicating via Snapchat, cultural differences in how speakers apologize, the relationship between Instagram and social comparison, the role of punctuation in text messages, relational struggles caused by cell phone use, disclosures between parents and their adult children, and the negative effects of mind-reading expectations. • Dark Side of Communication sidebars address problems including how seemingly harmless labels can cause interpersonal damage, talking frankly about STDs, saying “sorry” too often, the dangers of multitasking, and the harmful effects of “ghosting.” • Media Clips use both television shows and films to dramatize how communication concepts operate in everyday life. New TV shows include black-ish (co-cultural communication), This Is Us (self-­ concept), Game of Thrones (language), The Americans (deception), Speechless (nonverbal communication), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (emotion management), and Empire (conflict). New feature films include Wild (social needs), Meet the Patels (culture), Trainwreck (relational dialectics), Finding Dory (family), and Moonlight (aggressiveness). • At Work boxes help readers apply scholarship to their careers. New topics include letting your voice be heard (literally) on the job, relational repair at work, online relationships with coworkers, and keeping cool under fire. xv xvi PREFACE • Watch and Discuss is a new feature in this edition. These thumbnail images point to YouTube videos for viewing in or out of the classroom and are followed by two discussion prompts each. Topics include mean tweets and disinhibition, “vaguebooking” (posting ambiguous messages on Facebook), how your body language can affect the way you feel, listening with empathy, privacy management and cell phones, whether women and men can “just be friends,” passive aggressive communication, and “emotional correctness.” • Assessing Your Communication instruments in every chapter help students understand and improve how they communicate in important relationships. New instruments in this edition focus on social media use and relational maintenance skills. We have also made many changes to the text proper to address the latest communication research and changing communication practices. These include the following: • Chapter 1 includes two new topics: masspersonal communication— messages that are personal yet public; and multimodality—the ability and willingness to use multiple channels of communication. • Chapter 2 offers new discussions on code-switching, intersectionality, and communicating about disabilities. • Chapter 4 has enhanced coverage of empathy and the role it plays in helping communicators understand and appreciate each other. • Chapter 5 offers a new summary of gender and language usage. • Chapter 6 adds a review of research on how our own nonverbal behavior influences the way we feel. • Chapter 8 provides new coverage of self-talk as a means for managing emotions. • Chapter 10 updates and extends the discussion of friendship and describes the relational value of singleness. • Chapter 11 moves up the topic of conflict and describes how serial arguments work in interpersonal communication. • Chapter 12 now concludes the book with coverage of communication climate, which includes new and updated material on confirming messages, aggressiveness, ostracism, and the language of choice. DIGITAL AND PRINT ANCILLARY RESOURCES In addition to the text, a variety of ancillaries provide resources for both instructors and students. Whether you have taught with Interplay for many years or are encountering it for the first time, you will note that we use film, television, and other references to popular culture throughout the book to engage students and help them apply concepts. While this has long been a hallmark of our approach and book, we’re pleased to now offer featured videos for students and instructors. Short clips from the Media Clip and Watch and Discuss features are now included on the student PREFA CE website, in the course cartridges for your learning management system, and in OUP’s Dashboard system and its integrated ebook. Online Learning • Dashboard delivers an enhanced ebook and interactive activities and assessments to track student progress in a simple and intuitive online environment. All Dashboard content is engineered to work on mobile devices, including Android and iOS platforms. With this edition’s Dashboard, professors and students have more interactive and engaging content than ever before. Each chapter includes: ❍ Brief audio and video chapter summaries to help students review the basics ❍ Flashcards to help students master new vocabulary ❍ Interactive drag-and-drop chapter summaries to test whether students know the basics and have the vocabulary in hand ❍ Multiple-choice pre- and posttests (20 multiple-choice questions each) to assess students’ knowledge and ability to understand and apply information ❍ Media Clip and Watch and Discuss video clips with assessments, based on the book’s features, to help students apply what they have learned ❍ Interactive versions of the book’s popular self-assessments to give students immediate feedback on their communication skills and behaviors • Course Cartridges for a variety of learning management systems— including BlackBoard, Canvas, D2L, Moodle, and more—gives you Oxford’s quality content in your learning management system in just a few clicks. The course cartridge for Interplay includes the test bank and the following resources and activities in every chapter: flashcards, pre- and posttests (20 multiple-choice questions each), audio and video chapter summaries, and Media Clip and Watch and Discuss video clips with multiple-choice assessments. With no new systems to learn and no access code for students, course cartridges make online assignments easy and accessible to all. For Instructors • The Ancillary Resource Center (ARC) at www.oup-arc.com is a convenient, instructor-focused, single destination for resources to accompany Interplay. Accessed online through individual user accounts, the ARC provides instructors with up-to-date ancillaries at any time while guaranteeing the security of grade-significant resources. In addition, it allows OUP to keep instructors informed when new content becomes available. The ARC for Interplay contains a variety of materials to aid in teaching: ❍ An enhanced Instructor’s Manual and Computerized Test Bank provides teaching tips, exercises, and test questions that will prove useful to both new and veteran instructors. The Instructor’s xvii xviii PREFACE Manual includes teaching strategies, course outlines, plentiful inclass activities with specific instructions and teaching tips, discussion prompts, and journal prompts. The comprehensive Test Bank offers approximately 100 class-tested exam questions per chapter in multiple-choice, true/false, essay, and matching formats. ❍  Newly revised PowerPoint-based lecture slides have been redesigned for optimal utility and accessibility. • Now Playing: Instructor’s Edition, an instructor-only online supplement, includes an introduction on how to incorporate film examples in class, sample responses to the numerous discussion questions in the student edition of Now Playing, viewing guides, additional films, and references. Contact your Oxford University Press representative or call (800) 280–0280 for more information on accessing these resources. For Students • Now Playing: Learning Communication Through Film looks at contemporary and classic feature films through the lens of communication principles. Now Playing illustrates a variety of both individual scenes and full-length films, highlighting concepts and offering discussion questions for a mass medium that is interactive, familiar, and easily accessible. This resource gives you numerous film examples at your fingertips, saving you valuable preparation time. Contact your Oxford University Press representative or call (800) 280–0280 to package Now Playing with your textbook. • The companion website at www.oup.com/us/interplay offers a wealth of free and open study resources for students: flashcards, video and audio chapter summaries, interactive self-tests, and Media Clip and Watch and Discuss video clips with multiple-choice assessments. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The book you are reading wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many talented people. We are grateful to the many colleagues whose suggestions have helped make this book a far better one: Julie Allee Ivy Tech Community College Chantele S. Carr Estrella Mountain College Daniel Johnson Southwestern Michigan College Marie Arcidiacono Los Medanos College–Brentwood Campus Audrey Deterding Northern Arizona University Shyla Lefever Old Dominion University Liz Edgecomb Xavier University of Louisiana Julie Mayberry North Carolina State University Annette N. Hamel Western Michigan University Bonnie McCracken SUNY Geneseo Debra Harper-LeBlanc Lone Star College–North Harris Lucas Messer Scottsdale Community College Diane M. Badzinski Colorado Christian University Ellen Bland Central Carolina Community College PREFA CE xix Craig Parmley Ivy Tech Community College Narissra Punyanunt-Carter Texas Tech University Heidi Schara Riverland Community College Karri Pearson Normandale Community College Leighann Rechtin Ivy Tech Community College Lindsay Timmerman University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Interplay continues to benefit from the contributions of these colleagues who helped shape previous editions: Marcanne Andersen Tidewater Community College Darlene J. Geiger Portland State University Tim Moreland Catawba College Angie M. S. Anderson Anoka-Ramsey Community College Debra Gonsher Bronx Community College Mark Morman Baylor University Aurora Auter University of Southwestern Louisiana Em Griffin Wheaton College Kelly Morrison Michigan State University Nancy Bandiera Charleston Southern University Lowell Habel Chapman University Johance F. Murray Hostos Community College/ CUNY Sharon Beal Long Beach City College/ Chapman University Gail Hankins Wake Technical College Noreen Mysyk North Central College Meredith Harrigan SUNY Geneseo Gretchen R. Norling University of West Florida Kristin Haun University of Tennessee Joey Pogue Pittsburg State University Lisa C. Hebert Louisiana State University Tracey Powers Central Arizona College Brittany W. Hochstaetter Wake Technical Community College Laurie Pratt Chaffey College Constance Berman Berkshire Community College Heather Bixler College of the Sequoias Sandra Bodin-Lerner Kean University Colleen Butcher University of Florida Leeva Chung University of San Diego Kathleen Czech Point Loma Nazarene University Shaorong Huang Raymond Walters College— University of Cincinnati Narissra Maria Punyanunt-Carter Texas Tech University Rasha I. Ramzy Georgia State University Joy A. Jones Atlantic Cape Community College Rachel Reznik Elmhurst College Beverly Merrill Kelley California Lutheran University Elizabeth Ribarsky University of Illinois—Springfield Katrina Eicher Elizabethtown Community College Betty Kennan Radford University Gregory W. Rickert Lexington Community College Susan Fletcher Hocking College Anastasia Kurylo Marymount Manhattan College Jennifer A. Samp University of Georgia Karyn Friesen Lone Star College—Montgomery Andrea Lambert South Northern Kentucky University Julie Simanski Des Moines Area Community College Kristin K. Froemling Radford University Phil Martin North Central State College Debbie Sonandre Tacoma Community College Andrea M. Davis University of South Carolina Upstate xx PREFACE Renee Strom Saint Cloud State University Judith Vogel Des Moines Area Community College Michael Wittig Waukesha County Technical College Dennis Sutton Grand Rapids Community College Emanuelle Wessels Missouri State University Gordon Young Kingsborough Community College Our thanks to Rachel Reznik (Elmhurst College) and Jessica Kratzer (Northern Kentucky University), who served as Contributing Editors on this edition and made numerous helpful additions to the text. We salute the team of talented and congenial professionals at Oxford University Press, led and inspired by John Challice. We thank Toni Magyar, our hands-on Editor; Michele Laseau, Art Director; Barbara Mathieu, Senior Production Editor; Lisa Grzan, Production Manager; Theresa Stockton, Production Team Lead; Paul Longo, Assistant Editor; and Allegra Howard, Katlin Kocher, and Alyssa Quinones, Editorial Assistants. We’re also grateful for the oversight of Editorial Director Patrick Lynch and Director of Development Thom Holmes. Our Developmental Editor, Lauren Mine, deserves special acknowledgment: A full account of her contributions would require a book of its own. Our thanks also go to James Fraleigh for his copyediting talents and to Colleen Dunham for crafting the useful indexes. Sandy Cooke of OUP Canada tracked down images from films and television. Sherri Adler chose the evocative photos that help make Interplay unique. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Ronald B. Adler is Professor Emeritus of Communication at Santa Barbara City College. He is coauthor of Understanding Human Communication (OUP, 2017); Essential Communication (OUP, 2018); Looking Out, Looking In (2016); and Communicating at Work: Principles and Practices for Business and the Professions (2013). Beyond his professional life, Ron tries to give back to his community. He also enjoys cycling, hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family. Lawrence B. Rosenfeld is Professor Emeritus of Communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His articles appear in journals in communication, education, social work, sport psychology, and psychology, and he is the author of books on small-group, interpersonal, and nonverbal communication. Lawrence has received teaching and research awards from the National Communication Association and in 2012 received the William C. Friday Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is an artist and co-owner of Live Gently Art. Russell F. Proctor II is Professor Emeritus of Communication at ­Northern Kentucky University. He won NKU’s Outstanding Professor Award in 1997 and has also received recognition for his teaching from the National Communication Association, the Central States Communication Association, and the Kentucky Communication Association. Russ joined the Interplay team in the mid-1990s and was the lead author on this edition of the book. He loves sports, music, movies, and traveling with family and friends. Interplay 1 Interpersonal Process LEARNING OBJECTIVES CHAPTER OUTLINE 1.1 Why We Communicate 4 1.2 1.3 1.4 Recognize the needs that communication satisfies. Explain the interpersonal communication process: its transactional nature, governing principles, and characteristics. Identify characteristics of effective communication and competent communicators. Describe the advantages and drawbacks of various social media communication channels in relation to face-to-face communication. FEATURES Media Clip: Solitude and Connection: Wild 6 Dark Side of Communication: Loneliness and the Internet: A Delicate Balance 7 At Work: Communication and Career Advancement 9 Focus on Research: Tweeting: The Channel Affects the Message 12 Media Clip: Pathologically Competent: House of Cards 22 Assessing Your Communication: Your Use of Social Media 24 Focus on Research: Sidestepping Permanence: The Attraction of Snapchat 27 Watch and Discuss: “Men Read Mean Tweets to Female Sports Reporters” 31 • • • • Physical Needs 5 Identity Needs 6 Social Needs 7 Practical Needs 8 The Communication Process 9 • Early Models of Communication 9 • Insights from the Transactional Communication Model 10 • Communication Principles 13 • The Nature of Interpersonal Communication 15 • Communication Misconceptions 17 Communication Competence  19 • Principles of Communication Competence • Characteristics of Competent Communication 21 19 Social Media and Interpersonal Communication 23 • Characteristics of Social Media 23 • Social Media and Relational Quality 28 • Communicating Competently with Social Media 29 CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING KEY TERMS 34 ACTIVITIES 34 33 3 4 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N E VERYONE COMMUNICATES. Students and professors, parents and children, employers and employees, friends, strangers, and enemies—all communicate. We have been communicating with others from earliest childhood and will almost certainly keep doing so until we die. Why study an activity you’ve done your entire life? First, studying interpersonal communication will give you a new look at a familiar topic. For instance, you may not have realized that you can’t not communicate or that more communication doesn’t always improve relationships—topics that you’ll read about in a few pages. In this sense, exploring human communication is like studying anatomy or botany—everyday objects and processes take on new meaning. A second, more compelling reason is that we all could stand to be more effective communicators. A nationwide survey identified “lack of effective communication” as the leading cause of relational breakups, ahead of money, relatives or in-laws, sexual problems, previous relationships, or children (National Communication Association, 1999). Ineffective communication is also a major problem in the workplace, as 62 percent of surveyed executives indicated in another study (American Management Association, 2012). Perhaps that’s why parents identify communication as the most important skill set their children need to succeed in life (Goo, 2015). Pause now to make a mental list of communication problems you have encountered. You’ll probably see that no matter how successful your relationships are at home, with friends, at school, and at work, there is plenty of room for improvement in your everyday life. The information that follows will help you communicate better with some of the people who matter most to you. WHY WE COMMUNICATE Research demonstrating the importance of communication has been around longer than you might think. Frederick II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1220 to 1250, carried out language deprivation experiments. A medieval historian described a dramatically inhumane one: He bade foster mothers and nurses to suckle the children, to bathe and wash them, but in no way to prattle with them, for he wanted to learn whether they would speak the Hebrew language, which was the oldest, or Greek, or Latin, or Arabic, or perhaps the language of their parents, of whom they had been born. But he labored in vain because all the children died. For they could not live without the petting and joyful faces and loving words of their foster mothers. (Ross & McLaughlin, 1949, p. 366) Contemporary researchers have found less barbaric ways to investigate the importance of communication. In one classic study of isolation, five participants were paid to remain alone in a locked room. One lasted for 8 days. Three held out for 2 days, one commenting, “Never again.” The fifth participant lasted only 2 hours (Schachter, 1959). Real-life experiences also demonstrate our strong need for contact. Reflecting on his seven years as a hostage in Lebanon, former news CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S 5 correspondent Terry Anderson said point-blank, “I would rather have had the worst companion than no companion at all” ­(Gawande, 2009). You might claim that solitude would be a welcome relief at times. It’s true that all of us need time by ourselves, often more than we get. On the other hand, each of us has a point beyond which solitude becomes painful. In other words, we all need people. We all need to communicate. PHYSICAL NEEDS Communication is so important that its presence or absence affects health. People who process a negative experience by talking about it report improved life satisfaction, as well as enhanced mental and physical health, compared with those who only think privately about it (Francis, 2003; Sousa, 2002). Research conducted with police of- After spending a year alone in space, astronaut Scott Kelly dehis biggest challenge: “I think the hardest part is being ficers found that being able to talk easily with col- scribed isolated in a physical sense from people on the ground that are leagues and supervisors about work-related trauma important to you.” How satisfied are you with the amount and was linked to greater physical and mental health quality of personal contact in your life? What would be the ideal amount of contact? (­Stephens & Long, 2000). And a broader study of over 3,500 adults revealed that as little as 10 minutes of talking a day, face to face or by phone, improves memory and boosts intellectual function (Ybarra et al., 2008). In extreme cases, communication can even become a matter of life or death. As a Navy pilot, U.S. Senator John McCain was shot down over North Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war (POW) for six years, often in solitary confinement. POWs in his camp set up codes to send messages by tapping on walls to laboriously spell out words. McCain describes the importance of maintaining contact with one another despite serious risks: The punishment for communicating could be severe, and a few POWs, having been caught and beaten for their efforts, had their spirits broken as their bodies were battered. Terrified of a return trip to the punishment room, they would lie still in their cells when their comrades tried to tap them up on the wall. Very few would remain uncommunicative for long. To suffer all this alone was less tolerable than torture. Withdrawing in silence from the fellowship of other Americans . . . was to us the approach of death. (McCain, 1999, p. 12) Communication isn’t a necessity just for prisoners of war. Evidence gathered by a host of researchers (e.g., Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010; ParkerPope, 2010; Yang et al., 2016) has shown that interpersonal communication is vital among civilians as well. For example: • A meta-analysis of nearly 150 studies involving a total of over 300,000 participants found that socially connected people—those with strong networks of family and friends—live an average of 3.7 years longer than those who are socially isolated. 6 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N • People with strong relationships have significantly lower risks of coronary disease, hypertension, and obesity than do people with less social integration. • Divorced, separated, or widowed people are 5 to 10 times more likely to need hospitalization for mental illnesses than their married counterparts. ­Happily married people also have lower incidences of pneumonia, surgery, and cancer than single people. (It’s important to note that the quality of the relationship is more important than the institution of marriage in these studies.) Media Clip Solitude and Connection: Wild Striving to escape grief and a life plagued by personal mistakes, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) embarks on a solitary thousand-mile trek along the rugged Pacific Crest Trail. In the wilderness, Strayed spends much of her time reflecting on the past and pondering her options for the future. In her self-enforced solitude, she also discovers the value of human connection. She eagerly seeks out encounters with other hikers to alleviate loneliness, satisfy practical needs for food and water, and answer questions about her own identity. Both solitude and communication help her come to terms with who she is and who she wants to become. Strayed’s journey illustrates many of the reasons we communicate. Not far into her adventure she exclaims to herself, “I like talking to people. Listening to people . . . that’s a hobby of mine I hadn’t even realized I had.” In her wilderness quest, Strayed learns a lesson that applies to us all: Solitude and reflection can prepare us to embark on healthier relationships. Such research demonstrates the importance of meaningful personal relationships and explains why social scientists conclude that communication is indispensable for health. Not everyone needs the same amount of contact, and the quality of communication is almost certainly as important as the quantity. Nonetheless, the point remains: Personal communication is essential for our well-being. IDENTITY NEEDS Communication does more than enable us to survive. It is the primary way we learn who we are (Harwood, 2005). As you’ll read in Chapter 3, our sense of identity comes from the ways we interact with other people. Are we smart or stupid, attractive or ugly, skillful or inept? The answers to these questions don’t come from looking in the mirror. The reactions of others shape who we are. Deprived of communication with others, we would have no sense of identity. Consider the case of the famous “Wild Boy of Aveyron,” who spent his early childhood without any apparent human contact. The boy was discovered in January 1800 while digging for vegetables in a French village garden. He could not speak, and he showed no behaviors one would expect in a social human. More significant than this absence of social skills was his lack of any identity as a human being. As author Roger Shattuck (1980) put it, “The boy had no human sense of being in the world. He had no sense of himself as a person related to other persons” (p. 37). Only after the influence of a loving “mother” did the boy begin to behave as a human. CH A PT ER 1 Contemporary accounts support the essential role communication plays in shaping identity. In some cases, feral children— those raised with limited or no human contact—have demonstrated communication patterns similar to those of animals they grew up around (Newton, 2002). They do not appear to have developed a sense of themselves as humans before interacting with other people. Similarly, Dani’s Story (Lierow, 2011) tells of an abandoned child who was rescued by a loving family and taught to communicate. After considerable time and investment, she was ultimately able to say of herself, “I pretty.” Each of us enters the world with little or no sense of identity. We gain an idea of who we are from the way others define us. As we explain in Chapter 3, the messages we receive in early childhood are the strongest identity shapers, but the influence of others continues throughout life. SOCIAL NEEDS I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S DARK SIDE OF COMMUNICATION Loneliness and the Internet: A Delicate Balance It’s Friday night and you have no plans. You don’t want to spend the evening by yourself, but it feels like a chore to go out and socialize. Instead, you decide to stay in and interact with others online— perhaps with friends, or maybe with strangers. Is that a good way to meet your social needs? The simple answer is “occasionally, but not regularly.” Research about online communication and loneliness presents a mixed bag. Connecting with others online can help alleviate lonely feelings (Lee et al., 2013), particularly for those who find it challenging to get out and about (Cotten et al., 2013). On the other hand, there’s a correlation between loneliness and what social scientists call a preference for online social interaction (Chung, 2013). The cause-effect relationship isn’t always clear, but research shows that lonely people prefer to interact with others online, which can lead to problematic internet use, which can create a greater sense of loneliness (Kim et al., 2009; Tokunaga, 2016). The key to healthy communication lies in a principle we discuss frequently in this book: all things in moderation. When online communication complements and reinforces in-person relationships, it can be a wonderful tool for meeting social needs. When it mostly or completely replaces face-to-face interaction, there may be cause for concern. The Assessing Your Communication box on page 24 can help you determine whether your online and in-person communication are in balance. Some social scientists have argued that besides helping define who we are, communication is the principal way relationships are created. For example, Julie Yingling (1994) asserts that children “talk friendships into existence.” The same can be said for adult relationships: It’s impossible to imagine how they could exist without communication. These relationships satisfy a variety of social needs, such as giving and receiving affection, having fun, helping others and being helped, and developing a sense of self-worth (Rubin et al., 1988). Because relationships with others are vital, some theorists have gone so far as to argue that communication is the primary goal of human existence. One anthropologist (Goldschmidt, 1990) calls the drive for meeting social needs through communication “the human career.” There’s a strong link between the quality of communication and the success of relationships. For example, children who grow up in strong conversation-oriented families report having more satisfying same-sex friendships and romantic relationships when they become adults (Koesten, 2004). Women in one study reported that “socializing” contributed more to a satisfying life than virtually any other activity, including relaxing, shopping, eating, exercise, television, or prayer (Kahneman et al., 2004). 7 8 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N Despite knowing that communication is crucial to social satisfaction, evidence suggests that many people aren’t very successful at managing their interpersonal relationships. For example, one-third of Americans say they’ve never interacted with their neighbors, up from one-fifth who said the same just a few decades ago (Poon, 2015). Research also shows that the number of friendships is in decline. One survey (McPherson et al., 2006) reported that in 1985, Americans had an average of 2.94 close friends. Twenty years later, that number had dropped to 2.08. It’s worth noting that in this same study, more-educated Americans reported having larger and more diverse networks. In other words, higher education can enhance your relational life as well as your intellect. PRACTICAL NEEDS Along with satisfying physical, identity, and social needs, communication is essential in dealing with more practical matters. It’s the tool that lets us tell the hairstylist to take just a little off the sides, direct the doctor to where it hurts, and inform the plumber that the broken pipe needs attention now! Beyond these obvious needs, a wealth of research demonstrates that communication is an essential ingredient for success in virtually every career. (See the At Work box on page 9.) On-the-job communication skills can even make the difference between life and death for doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners. Researchers discovered that “communication failures” in hospitals and doctors’ offices were linked to more than 1,700 U.S. deaths in a recent five-year period (Bailey, 2016). Studies also show a significant difference between the communication skills of physicians who had no malpractice claims against them and doctors with previous claims (Carroll, 2015). Communication is just as important outside of work. For example, married couples who are effective communicators report happier relationships than less skillful husbands and wives (Ridley et al., 2001)—a finding that has been supported across cultures (Rehman & Holtzworth-Munroe, 2007). And the effects of work–family conflict—a common occurrence that negatively affects marital satisfaction—can be mitigated with constructive communication (Carroll et al., 2013). In school, grade-point averages of college students are related positively to their communication competence (Hawken et al., 1991). In addition, school adjustment, dropout rate, and overall school achievement are highly related to students’ having strong, supportive relationships (Heard, 2007). Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1968) suggests that human needs fall into five categories, each of which must be satisfied before we concern ourselves with the next one. As you read about each need, think about the ways in which communication is often necessary to satisfy it. The most basic needs are physical: sufficient air, water, food, and rest and the ability to reproduce as a species. The second category of Maslow’s needs involves safety: protection from threats to our well-being. Beyond physical and safety concerns are the social needs described earlier. Next, Maslow suggests that each of us has the need for self-esteem: the desire to believe that CH A PT ER 1 @work I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S Communication and Career Advancement No matter the field, research supports what experienced workers already know—that communication skills are crucial in finding and succeeding in a job. A survey of business leaders rated abilities in spoken and written communication as the most important skills for college graduates to possess (Supiano, 2013). In a later study with similar results, employers told college students that oral communication skills, and particularly interpersonal communication, are essential for workplace success (Coffelt et al., 2016). It’s no wonder that job ads ask for competence in “oral and written communication” more than any other skill set—by a wide margin (Anderson & Gantz, 2013). Once you’re hired, the need for communication skills is important in virtually every career. Engineers spend the bulk of their working lives speaking and listening, mostly in one-on-one and small-group settings (Darling & Dannels, 2003). Accounting professionals spend 80 percent of their time on the job communicating with others, individually and in groups (Nellermoe et al., 1999). Oral and written communication skills are also vital in the computer industry, according to Silicon Valley employers (­Stevens, 2005). Writing in The Scientist magazine, a commentator echoed this sentiment: “If I give any advice, it is that you can never do enough training around your overall communication skills” (Richman, 2002). we are worthwhile, valuable people. The final category of needs involves self-actualization: the desire to develop our potential to the maximum, to become the best person we can be. THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS So far, we have talked about communication as if its meaning were perfectly clear. In fact, scholars have debated the definition of communication for years (Littlejohn, 2008). Despite their many disagreements, most would concur that at its essence, communication is about using messages to generate meanings (Korn et al., 2000). Notice how this basic definition holds true across a variety of contexts—public speaking, small groups, mass media, and so forth. The goal of this section is to explain how messages and meanings are created in interpersonal communication and to describe the many factors involved in this complex process. EARLY MODELS OF COMMUNICATION As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” With that principle in mind, social scientists of the 1950s created models of the communication process. These early, simplistic models characterized communication as a one-way, linear event—something that a sender “does” by encoding a message and delivering it to a passive receiver who decodes it. This one-way process resembles an archer (the sender) shooting an arrow (the message) at a target (the receiver). For some examples of 9 10 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N communication, a linear model can be fitting. If you labor over a thank-you note to get the tone just right before sending it, your message is primarily a one-way effort. Later models represented communication as more of a tennis game, in which players hit balls (send messages) to receivers who then respond. This feedback, or response to a previous message, can be verbal or nonverbal. A back-and-forth chain of text messages seems to fit this description pretty well. Yet those models fail to capture the complexity of the human beings involved in the process. Over time, communication theorists developed increasingly sophisticated versions in an attempt to depict all the factors that affect human interaction. INSIGHTS FROM THE TRANSACTIONAL COMMUNICATION MODEL No model can completely represent the process of communication, any more than a map can capture everything about the neighborhood where you live. Still, Figure 1.1 reflects a number of important characteristics of transactional communication, the dynamic process in which communicators create meaning together through interaction. Sending and Receiving Are Usually Simultaneous Some forms of communication, such as email, texting, voice messages, or “snail mail” letters, are asynchronous: There’s a delay between when they are sent and received. But in face-to-face interaction, it’s hard to distinguish sender and receiver. Consider a few examples: • A teacher explaining a difficult concept to a student after class • A parent lecturing a teenager about the family’s curfew rules • A salesperson giving a customer information about a product The impulse is to identify the teacher, parent, and salesperson as senders, whereas the student, teenager, and customer are receivers. Now imagine a confused look on the student’s face; the teenager interrupting defensively; the customer blankly staring into the distance. It’s easy to see Noise Noise Communicator sends, receives, assigns meaning Channel(s) Messages A's Environment FIGURE 1.1 Transactional Communication Model Noise Noise Channel(s) Communicator sends, receives, assigns meaning B's Environment Noise Noise CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S that these verbal and nonverbal responses are messages being sent, even while the other person is talking. Because it’s often impossible to distinguish sender from receiver, our communication model replaces these roles with the more accurate term communicator. This term reflects the fact that—at least in face-to-face situations—people are simultaneously senders and receivers who exchange multiple messages. Meanings Exist in and Among People Messages, whether verbal or nonverbal, don’t have meanings in themselves. Rather, meanings reside in the people who express and interpret them. Imagine that a friend says, “I’m sorry,” after showing up several hours late to a date. This expression might be a genuine apology, an insincere statement designed to defuse your anger, or even a sarcastic jibe. It’s easy to imagine that your friend might mean one thing and you might have a different interpretation of it. The possibility of multiple interpretations means that it is often necessary to negotiate a shared meaning in order for satisfying communication to occur (the perception-checking skills described in Chapter 4 can help with this). Environment and Noise Affect Communication Problems often arise because communicators occupy different environments (sometimes called contexts): fields of experience that help them make sense of others’ behavior. In communication terminology, environment refers not only to a physical location but also to the personal experiences and cultural background that participants bring to a conversation. You can appreciate the influence of environments by considering your beliefs about an important topic such as work, marriage, or government policies. How might your beliefs be different if your personal history were different? Notice how the model in Figure 1.1 shows that the environments of A and B overlap. This intersecting area represents the background that the communicators have in common. If this overlap didn’t exist, communication would be difficult, if not impossible. Whereas similar environments often facilitate communication, different backgrounds can make effective communication more challenging. Consider just some of the factors that might contribute to different environments, and to communication challenges as a result: • • • • A might belong to one ethnic group and B to another. A might be rich and B poor. A might be rushed and B have nowhere to go. A might have lived a long, eventful life, and B could be young and inexperienced. • A might be passionately concerned with the subject and B indifferent to it. Another factor in the environment that makes communication difficult is what communication scholars call noise: anything that interferes with the transmission and reception of a message. Three types of noise 11 12 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N can disrupt communication. External noise includes factors outside the receiver that make it difficult to hear, as well as many other kinds of distractions. For instance, loud music in a bar or a jackhammer grinding in the street might make it hard for you to pay attention to another person. Physiological noise involves biological factors in the receiver that interfere with accurate reception: hearing loss, illness, and so on. Psychological noise refers to cognitive factors that make communication less effective. For instance, a woman who is called “girl” may become so irritated that she has trouble listening objectively to the rest of a speaker’s message. Channels Make a Difference Communication scholars use the term channel to describe the medium through which messages are exchanged (Berger & Iyengar, 2013; Ledbetter, 2014). Along with face-to-face interaction, we have the ­ option of using mediated communication: sending messages via technological channels such as phones, email, and the internet. The communication channel being used can affect the way a receiver responds to a message. For example, a string of texted emojis probably won’t have the same effect as a handwritten expression of affection, and being fired from a job in person would likely feel different from getting the bad news in an email. Most people intuitively recognize that the selection of a channel depends in part on the kind of message they’re sending. One survey asked students to identify which channel they would find best for delivering a variety of messages (O’Sullivan, 2000). Most respondents said they would have FOCUS ON RESEARCH Tweeting: The Channel Affects the Message In the years since Marshall McLuhan famously declared that “the medium is the message,” scholars have studied the impact of communication channels on the messages they convey. Obviously it makes a difference whether you send a message in person, by phone, or through social media. A research team investigated an even more specific issue: Do Twitter messages created on mobile devices differ from those created on computers? The short answer to that question is yes. In analyzing some 235 million tweets over a 6-week period, the researchers were able to determine whether the posts originated from mobile devices or from desktop computers. They found that mobile tweets were more egocentric than tweets from computers—that is, they included more first-person pronouns such as I, me, my, and mine. Tweets sent from mobile devices were also more negative in their wording and content. In other words, a tweet with the phrase “I’m mad” is more likely to be posted from a phone than a desktop. The researchers speculated that mobile devices encourage more spontaneous ­communication—for better or for worse. As you’ll read in Chapter 3, wise communicators consider pros and cons before making self-­ disclosures. This research suggests that the medium you choose for sending a message may play an important role in that process. Murthy, D., Bowman, S., Gross, A. J., & McGarry, M. (2015). Do we tweet differently from our mobile devices? A study of language differences on mobile and web-based Twitter platforms. Journal of Communication, 65, 816–837. CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S 13 little trouble sending positive messages face to face, but that mediated channels had more appeal for sending negative messages (see also Feaster, 2010). You’ll read much more about social media channels later in this chapter and throughout this book. COMMUNICATION PRINCIPLES Beyond communication models, several principles explain the nature of communication. Communication Is Transactional As we saw in the transactional model, communicators create meaning through their interaction with one another. Perhaps the most important consequence of communication’s transactional nature is mutual influence. To put it simply, communication Like dancing, communication is a transactional process that isn’t something we do to others; rather, it is an activ- you do with others, not to them. How would you describe the nature of the communication transactions in your close ity we do with them. relationships? In what ways is it similar to dancing with a Communication is like dancing with a part- partner? ner: No matter how skilled you are, success depends on the other person’s behavior as well as your own. In communication and in dancing, the partners must adapt to and coordinate with each other. Further, relational communication—like dancing—is a unique creation that arises from how the partners interact. The way you dance probably varies from one partner to another because of its cooperative, transactional nature. Likewise, the way you communicate almost certainly varies with different partners. That’s why competent communicators score high in adaptability, as you’ll read later in this chapter. Psychologist Kenneth Gergen (1991) expresses the transactional nature of communication well when he points out how our success depends on interaction with others. As he says, “one cannot be ‘attractive’ without others who are attracted, a ‘leader’ without others willing to follow, or a ‘loving person’ without others to affirm with appreciation” (p. 158). Communication Can Be Intentional or Unintentional Some communication is clearly deliberate: You probably plan your words carefully before asking the boss for a raise or offering constructive criticism. Some scholars (e.g., Motley, 1990) argue that only intentional messages like these qualify as communication. However, others (e.g., Buck & VanLear, 2002) suggest that even unintentional behavior is communicative. Suppose, for instance, that a friend overhears you muttering complaints to yourself. Even though you didn’t intend for her to hear your remarks, they certainly did carry a message. In addition to these slips of the tongue, we unintentionally send many nonverbal messages. You might not be aware of your sour expression, impatient shifting, or sighs of boredom, but others read into them nonetheless. 14 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N Even the seeming absence of a behavior has communicative value. Recall times when you sent a text or left a voice message and received no reply. You probably assigned some meaning to the nonresponse. Was the other person angry? Indifferent? Too busy to reply? Whether your hunch was correct, the point remains: All behavior has communicative value. “Nothing” never happens. In Interplay we look at the communicative value of both intentional and unintentional behavior. This book takes the position that whatever you do—whether you speak or remain silent, confront or avoid, show emotion or keep a poker face—you provide information to others about your thoughts and feelings. In this sense, we are like transmitters that can’t be shut off. We cannot not communicate (Watzlawick et al., 1967). Communication Is Irreversible We sometimes wish that we could back up in time, erasing words or acts and replacing them with better alternatives. Unfortunately, such reversal is impossible. Sometimes, further explanation can clear up confusion, or an apology can mollify hurt feelings, but other times no amount of explanation can change the impression you have created. It is no more possible to “unsend” a message—including most digital messages—than to “unsqueeze” a tube of toothpaste. Words said, messages sent, and deeds done are irretrievable. Communication Is Unrepeatable Because communication is an ongoing process, an event cannot be repeated. The friendly smile you gave a stranger last week may not succeed with the person you encounter tomorrow. Even with the same person, it’s impossible to recreate an event. Why? Because both you and the other person have changed. You’ve both lived longer, and your feelings about each other may have changed. What may seem like the same words and behavior are different each time they are spoken or performed. Communication Has a Content Dimension and a Relational Dimension Virtually all exchanges have content and relational dimensions. The content dimension involves the information being explicitly discussed: “Please pass the salt”; “Not now, I’m tired”; “You forgot to check your messages.” In addition to this sort of obvious content, all messages also have a relational dimension (Watzlawick et al., 1967) that expresses how you feel about the other person: whether you like or dislike the other person, feel in control or subordinate, feel comfortable or anxious, and so on. For instance, consider the various relational messages you could communicate by simply saying “Thanks a lot” in different ways. You can appreciate the importance of communication’s relational dimension by looking at the photo on page 15. What does this CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S image convey about the relationship between the two people? Sometimes the content dimension of a message is all that matters. For example, you may not care how the barista feels about you as long as you get your coffee. In a qualitative sense, however, the relational dimension of a message is often more important than the content under discussion. This point explains why disputes over apparently trivial subjects become so important. In such cases, we’re not really arguing over whose turn it is to take out the trash or whether to stay home or go out. Instead, we’re disputing the nature of the relationship: who’s in control, and how important are we to each other? Chapter 9 explores several key relational issues in detail. For now, let’s turn to defining interpersonal communication. THE NATURE OF INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION As you just read, every exchange—even the most mundane—has a relational dimension. Visualize a brief conversation you’ve recently had with a cashier. Was it friendly or indifferent? Rushed or more leisurely? In every case, the exchanged messages both created and reflected some sort of relationship. In more meaningful relationships, communication is distinctive and nuanced— more personal. It’s helpful, therefore, to view communication with others on a continuum, ranging from impersonal to interpersonal (see Figure 1.2). Many of our interactions in life are relatively impersonal, but more meaningful communication characterizes our key relationships. As discussed in this book, interpersonal communication is interaction distinguished by the qualities of uniqueness, interdependence, self-disclosure, and intrinsic rewards. Let’s explore each component of this definition. 15 Along with its content, all communication conveys both verbal and nonverbal relational messages. What relational messages do you convey when communicating about everyday matters? Characteristics of Interpersonal Communication Four features distinguish communication in highly interpersonal relationships from less personal ones: • The first is uniqueness. Whereas social rules and rituals govern impersonal exchanges, the nature and history of particular relationships shape interpersonal exchanges. For example, with one friend you Highly Impersonal Highly Interpersonal (e.g., scheduling appointment, answering phone survey) (e.g., marriage proposal, asking for forgiveness) FIGURE 1.2 Impersonal– Interpersonal Communication Continuum 16 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N might exchange good-natured insults, whereas with another you are careful never to offend. Consider how you communicate with those closest to you and you’ll recognize that each relationship is defined by its own specific language, customs, and pattern—what communication scholars call a relational culture (Farrell et al., 2014). • The second feature that distinguishes interpersonal communication is interdependence. Highly interpersonal communication exchanges reveal that the fate of the partners is connected. In an impersonal relationship, such as with a restaurant server you don’t know, you might be able to brush off the other’s anger, affection, excitement, or depression. But in an interpersonal relationship, the other’s life affects you. • The third feature is self-disclosure. In impersonal exchanges, we reveal little about ourselves; but in interpersonal exchanges, we often share important thoughts and feelings, usually reflecting our comfort with one another. This doesn’t mean that all highly interpersonal relationships are warm and caring or that all self-disclosure is positive. It’s possible to reveal negative personal information: “I really hate when you do that!” But note you’d probably say that only to someone with whom you have an interpersonal relationship. • The fourth feature has to do with the intrinsic rewards of interacting. Communicators in relationships characterized by impersonal exchanges seek extrinsic rewards—payoffs that have little to do with the people involved. You listen to professors in class or talk to potential buyers of your used car in order to reach goals that have little to do with developing personal relationships. By contrast, you spend time in highly interpersonal relationships, such as relationships with friends and lovers, because of the intrinsic rewards that come from your communication. Just being with the other person is the reward. It doesn’t matter what you talk about—developing the relationship is what’s important. Relatively few of our interactions are highly interpersonal. The scarcity of interpersonal communication, however, contributes to its value (Mehl et al., 2010). Like precious and one-of-a-kind artwork, highly interpersonal communication is special because it is rare. It’s even fairly scarce in close relationships, where much of our daily communication is comfortably mundane (Alberts et al., 2005). Those special relationships, however, provide the best opportunities to communicate interpersonally—and that’s why Chapter 10 focuses on them. Masspersonal Communication After reading the characteristics just outlined, you might be thinking about interpersonal communication as a private rather than a public exchange. For instance, many people would be reluctant to broadcast self-disclosures to an audience, and a relationship might not feel unique if it’s shared with hundreds of others. In this respect, it’s easy to regard interpersonal communication as something that happens only in private, one-on-one relationships. But the emergence of social media has led to some changes in that thinking. The fact is, when you post a message on a friend’s social networking page (“I heard about your new job—congratulations!”), that’s CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S 17 PUBLIC Newspaper Television Billboard YouTube video Podcast Tweet Blog Facebook post Masspersonal Communication Radio call-in Spam Jumbotron proposal Directed tweet Group email Listserv PERSONAL IMPERSONAL Mass Communication Interpersonal Communication Tailored spam Facebook private message FIGURE 1.3 Examples of Mass, Interpersonal, and Masspersonal Communication Adapted from O’Sullivan & Carr, 2017. PRIVATE both personal and public. The message is meant for your friend, but others view and evaluate it. You probably have those others in mind as you craft the message—otherwise, you could have sent a private text or email. In the same vein, many blog authors and tweeters interact with their followers, creating a sense of community (Lee & Jang, 2013). Mediated messages that are broadcast one-to-many are typically categorized as “mass communication,” but that label doesn’t capture the nature of some personal messages aimed at large audiences. As a way of clarifying the personal nature of some public messages, communication scholars (O’Sullivan & Carr, 2017) suggest we need a new label. Masspersonal communication characterizes interaction that crosses boundaries between mass and interpersonal contexts. Figure 1.3 illustrates some such intersections and the channels they use. It’s easy to see how masspersonal communication can enhance a relationship’s uniqueness, interdependence, self-disclosure, and intrinsic rewards. COMMUNICATION MISCONCEPTIONS Now that you’ve learned what communication is, it’s time to identify some things it isn’t. Avoiding these common misconceptions (adapted from ­McCroskey & Richmond, 1996) can save you a great deal of trouble in your personal life. Not All Communication Seeks Understanding You might assume that the goal of all communication is to maximize understanding between communicators. But although some understanding is necessary to coordinate our interactions, there are some types of 18 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N communication in which understanding, as we usually conceive it, isn’t the primary goal. Consider, for example, the following: • Social rituals we enact every day. “How’s it going?” you ask. “Great,” the other person replies, even if he or she isn’t actually feeling great. The primary goal in exchanges like these is mutual acknowledgment. The unstated message is “I consider you important enough to notice.” There’s obviously no serious attempt to exchange information ­( Burnard, 2003). An analysis of examples from Twitter shows how this social ritual to “keep in touch” can take place digitally as well as in person (Schandorf, 2013). • Many attempts to influence others. Most television commercials are aimed at persuading viewers to buy products, not helping viewers understand the content of the ad. In the same way, many of our attempts at persuading others don’t involve a desire for understanding, just for compliance with our wishes. • Deliberate ambiguity and deception. When you decline an unwanted invitation by saying “I can’t make it,” you probably want to create the impression that the decision is really beyond your control. (If your goal were to be perfectly clear, you might say, “I don’t want to get together. In fact, I’d rather do almost anything than accept your invitation.”) As we explain in detail in Chapter 3, people often lie or hedge their remarks precisely because they want to obscure their true thoughts and feelings. More Communication Is Not Always Better Whereas failure to communicate effectively and often enough can certainly cause problems, excessive communication also can be a mistake. Sometimes it is simply unproductive, as when people go over the same ground again and again. There are times when talking too much actually aggravates a problem. As McCroskey and Wheeless (1976) put it, “More and more negative communication merely leads to more and more negative results” (p. 5). Even when relationships aren’t troubled, less communication may be better than more. One study found that coworkers who aren’t highly dependent on one another perform better when they don’t spend a great deal of time talking together (Barrick et al., 2007). There are even times when no interaction is the best course. When two people are angry and hurt, they may say things they don’t mean and will later regret. In such cases it’s probably best to spend time cooling off, thinking about what to say and how to say it. Chapter 8 will help you decide when and how to share feelings. Communication Will Not Solve All Problems Sometimes even the best planned, best timed communication won’t solve a problem. For example, imagine that you ask an instructor to explain why you received a poor grade on a project you believe deserved top marks. The professor clearly outlines the reasons why you received the low grade and sticks to that position after listening thoughtfully to your protests. Has communication solved the problem? Hardly. CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S 19 Sometimes clear communication is even the cause of problems. Suppose, for example, that a friend asks you for an honest opinion of an expensive outfit he just bought. Your clear and sincere answer, “I think it makes you look fat,” might do more harm than good. Deciding when and how to self-disclose isn’t always easy. See Chapter 3 for suggestions. Effective Communication Is Not a Natural Ability Most people assume that communication is like breathing—that it’s something people can do without training. Although nearly everyone does manage to function passably without much formal communication training, most people operate at a level of effectiveness far below their potential. In fact, communication skills are closer to an athletic ability. Even the most inept of us can learn to be more effective with training and practice, and even the most talented need to “keep in shape.” With this in mind, it’s time to look at what’s involved in communicating more competently. COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE “What does it take to communicate better?” is probably the most important question to ask as you read this book. Answering it has been one of the leading challenges for communication scholars. Although we don’t have all the answers, research has identified a great deal of important and useful information about communication competence. PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE Most scholars agree that communication competence is the ability to achieve goals in a manner both effective and appropriate (Spitzberg, 2000). To understand these two dimensions, consider how you might handle everyday communication challenges such as declining an unwanted invitation or asking a friend to stop an annoying behavior. In cases such as these, effective communication would get the results you want. Appropriate communication would do so in a way that, in most cases, enhances the relationship in which it occurs. You can appreciate the importance of both appropriateness and effectiveness by imagining approaches that would satisfy one of these criteria but not the other. Yelling at your restaurant server may get your meal to come quickly, but you probably wouldn’t be welcome back (and you might want to check your food before eating it). Likewise, saying “That’s fine” to your roommate when things aren’t fine might maintain the relationship but leave you frustrated. With the goal of encouraging a balance between effectiveness and appropriateness, the following paragraphs outline several important principles of communication competence. There Is No Single “Ideal” or “Effective” Way to Communicate Your own experience shows that a variety of communication styles can be effective. Some very successful communicators are serious, whereas others use humor; some are gregarious, others are quieter; and some are more On the TV show Hell’s Kitchen, chef Gordon Ramsay gets the job done—but often treats his staff poorly in the process. On MasterChef Junior, he demonstrates that he can be both effective and appropriate as a cooking coach. Does your communication competence change from situation to situation? 20 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N straightforward, while others hint diplomatically. Furthermore, a type of communication that is competent in one setting might be a colossal blunder in another, and what one person thinks is competent may seem incompetent to another (Dunleavy & Martin, 2010). The joking insults you routinely trade with a friend might offend a sensitive family member, and Saturday night’s romantic approach would be out of place at work on Monday morning. No list of rules or tips will guarantee your success as a communicator. Flexibility is especially important when members of different cultures meet. Some communication skills seem to be universal (Ruben, 1989). Every culture has rules that require speakers to behave appropriately, for example. But the definition of appropriate communication in a given situation varies considerably from one culture to another (Arasaratnam, 2007). Customs such as belching after a meal or appearing nude in public might be appropriate in some parts of the world but outrageous in others. There are also more subtle differences in competent communication. For example, qualities such as self-disclosure and straight talk may be valued in the United States but considered overly aggressive and insensitive in many Asian cultures (Zhang, 2015). You’ll read more about the many dimensions of intercultural competence in Chapter 2. Competence Is Situational Because competent behavior varies so much from one situation and person to another, it’s a mistake to think that communication competence is a trait that a person either possesses or lacks (Spitzberg, 1991). It’s more accurate to talk about degrees or areas of competence. You and the people you know are probably quite competent in some areas and less so in others. For example, you might deal quite skillfully with peers while feeling clumsy interacting with people much older or younger, wealthier or poorer, or more or less attractive than yourself. In fact, your competence may vary from situation to situation. It’s an overgeneralization to say, in a moment of distress, “I’m a terrible communicator!” It’s more accurate to say, “I didn’t handle this situation very well, but I’m better in others.” Competence Can Be Learned To some degree, biology is destiny when it comes to communication competence (Teven et al., 2010). Research suggests that certain personality traits predispose people toward particular competence skills (Hullman et al., 2010). For instance, those who are agreeable and conscientious by nature find it easier to be appropriate and harder to be (and become) assertive and effective. Fortunately, biology isn’t the only factor that shapes how we communicate. Communication competence is, to a great degree, a set of skills that anyone can learn (Fortney et al., 2001). For instance, people with communication anxiety often benefit from interpersonal training sessions (Dwyer, 2000). Skills instruction has also been shown to help communicators in a variety of professional fields (Brown et al., 2010; Hynes, 2012). Even CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S without systematic training, it’s possible to develop communication skills through the processes of observation and trial and error. We learn from our own successes and failures, as well as from observing other models—both positive and negative. And, of course, it’s our hope that you will become a more competent communicator as a result of putting the information in this book to work. CHARACTERISTICS OF COMPETENT COMMUNICATION Although competent communication varies from one situation to another, scholars have identified several common denominators that characterize it in most contexts. A Large Repertoire of Skills As you’ve already seen, good communicators don’t use the same approach in every situation. They know that sometimes it’s best to be blunt and sometimes tactful; that there is a time to speak up and a time to be quiet. The chances of reaching your personal and relational goals increase with the number of options you have about how to communicate (­Pillet-Shore, 2011). For example, if you want to start a conversation with a stranger, you might get the ball rolling simply by introducing yourself. In other cases, seeking assistance might work well: “I’ve just moved here. What kind of neighborhood is the Eastside?” A third strategy is to ask a question about the situation: “I’ve never heard this band before. Do you know anything about them?” You could also offer a sincere compliment and follow it up with a question: “Great shoes! Where did you get them?” Just as a chef draws from a wide range of herbs and spices, a competent communicator can draw from a large array of potential behaviors. Adaptability To extend this metaphor, a chef must know when to use garlic, chili, or sugar. Likewise, a competent communicator needs adaptability, selecting appropriate responses for each situation—and for each recipient. Adaptability is so important that competence researchers call it “the hallmark of interpersonal communication skills” (Hullman, 2015). As an example, one study (Stephens et al., 2009) found that professors negatively appraised students who sent emails that included casual text language (such as “4” instead of “for” or “RU” instead of “are you”). These students didn’t adapt their message to an appropriate level of professional formality. Later in this chapter, we’ll discuss how choosing the right channel for particular messages and recipients is also an important component of communication adaptability. Adaptability becomes challenging when communicating masspersonally. When you post on social media, for instance, it’s likely you have multiple audiences in mind as you craft your message (Marder et al., 2016). If you’ve edited an update before posting because you knew how some followers would react, you’ve practiced adaptability—and also self-­presentation, as described in Chapter 3. 21 22 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N Ability to Perform Skillfully Media Clip Once you have chosen the appropriate way to communicate, you have to perform that behavior effectively (Barge & Little, 2008). In communication, as in other activities, practice is the key to skillful performance. Much of the information in Interplay will introduce you to new tools for communicating, and the activities at the end of each chapter will help you practice them. Empathy/Perspective Taking We develop the most effective messages when we understand and empathize with the other person’s point of view (Nelson et al., 2017). Empathy, or perspective taking (explained in Chapter 4), is an essential skill partly because others may not express their thoughts and feelings clearly. And of course, it’s not enough just to imagine another’s perspective; it’s vital to communicate that understanding through verbal and nonverbal responses (Kellas et al., 2013). Pathologically Competent: House of Cards In the TV series House of Cards, career politician Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his equally ambitious wife Claire (Robin Wright) are ruthless in their pursuit of power. They make friends, curry favor, and use people to further their own positions. In terms of communication competence, Claire and Frank are very effective in achieving their personal goals. They are strategic self-monitors, carefully noting how others respond to them and adjusting accordingly. But interpersonally, they regard other people only as tools to achieve their selfish goals, or as enemies to be defeated. Not surprisingly, the Underwoods have no close relationships. In an aside to the camera, Frank says: “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.” Most of us would regard Frank and Claire’s heartless obsession with power as pathological. We recognize that to be fully competent communicators—and healthy human beings—it’s necessary to be both effective and appropriate. Cognitive Complexity Cognitive complexity is the ability to construct a variety of different frameworks for viewing an issue. Imagine that a longtime friend never responded to a message from you, but you expected a response. One possible explanation is that your friend is offended by something you’ve done. Another possibility is that something has happened in another part of your friend’s life that is upsetting. Or perhaps nothing at all is wrong, and you’re just being overly sensitive. Researchers have found that a large number of constructs for interpreting the behavior of others leads to greater “conversational sensitivity,” increasing the chances of acting in ways that will produce satisfying results (Burleson, 2011; MacGeorge & Wilkum, 2012). Not surprisingly, research also shows a connection between cognitive complexity and empathy (Joireman, 2004). The relationship makes sense: The more ways you have to understand others and interpret their behaviors, the greater the likelihood that you can see and communicate about the world from their perspective. CH A PT ER 1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S Self-Monitoring Psychologists use the term self-monitoring to describe the process of paying close attention to one’s own behavior and using these observations to shape it. Self-monitors are able to consider their behavior from a detached viewpoint, allowing for observations such as: “I’m making a fool out of myself.” “I’d better speak up now.” “This approach is working well. I’ll keep it up.” It’s no surprise that self-monitoring generally increases one’s effectiveness as a communicator (Day et al., 2002). The President’s Council of Economic Advisers maintains that greater “self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control” will help students be more successful when they enter the job market (Executive Office of the President, 2009, p. 10). The ability to ask “How am I doing?”—and to change your behavior if the answer isn’t positive—is a tremendous asset for communicators. SOCIAL MEDIA AND INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION Until a few decades ago, face-to-face communication was essential to starting and maintaining most, if not all, interpersonal relationships. Other channels existed—primarily the telephone and postal c­ orrespondence— but most interpersonal communication seemed to require physical proximity. Now things are different. Obviously, face-to-face communication is still vitally important, but now technology also plays a key role in starting and maintaining relationships. Social media is the term that describes all the communication channels that allow communitybased input, interaction, content sharing, and collaboration. Defined broadly, you’re using social media when you send text messages, post a tweet, exchange emails and instant messages, or use social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. The number of social media technologies has exploded in the past few decades, giving communicators today an array of choices that would have amazed someone from a previous era. Before reading about the characteristics of social media, take a moment to analyze the role of digital communication in your life by completing the assessment on page 24. CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIAL MEDIA In many ways, mediated and face-to-face communication are similar. They involve messages, channels, noise, and other elements of the transactional model. Both are used to satisfy the physical, identity, social, and practical needs outlined on pages 5–9. 23 24 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N A S S E S S I N G YO U R CO M M U N I C AT I O N Your Use of Social Media Respond to each of the 15 items below according to how closely it describes you, using a scale from 1 through 8, with 1 = “not at all descriptive of me,” and 8 = “highly descriptive of me.” _____ 1. I prefer online social interaction over face-to-face communication. _____ 2. Online social interaction is more comfortable for me than face-to-face interaction. _____ 3. I prefer communicating with people online rather than face to face. _____ 4. I have used the internet to talk with others when I was feeling isolated. _____ 5. I have used the internet to make myself feel better when I was down. _____ 6. I have used the internet to make myself feel better when I’ve felt upset. _____ 7. When I haven’t been online for some time, I become preoccupied with the thought of going online. _____ 8. I would feel lost if I were unable to go online. _____ 9. I think obsessively about going online when I am offline. _____ 10. I have difficulty controlling the amount of time I spend online. _____ 11. I find it difficult to control my internet use. _____ 12. When offline, I have a hard time trying to resist the urge to go online. _____ 13. My internet use has made it difficult for me to manage my life. _____ 14. I have missed social engagements or activities because of my internet use. _____ 15. My internet use has created problems in my life. Source: Caplan, S. E. (2010). Theory and measurement of generalized problematic Internet use: A two-step approach. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1089–1097. For scoring information, see page 35 at the end of the chapter. Despite these similarities, communication by social media differs from the in-person variety in some important ways. Table 1.1 provides an overview of differences by communication channel. It shows that each channel has both advantages and drawbacks. You can boost your effectiveness by choosing the channel that’s right for each situation. Should you send a message via a text? Make a phone call? Wait for a chance to talk in person? It depends on the nature of the message, the receiver, and the situation. CH A PT ER 1 TABLE 1.1 I N T ERPERS O N A L PRO CES S Characteristics of Communication Channels Synchronization Richness/Leanness Permanence Face-to-Face Synchronous Rich Low Video Chat Synchronous Moderately rich Low Telephone Synchronous Moderately lean (voice but no visuals) Low Voice Mail Asynchronous Moderately lean (voice but no visuals) Moderate (can be stored; typically deleted) Text/Instant Messaging Asynchronous (but potentially quick) Lean Moderate (can be stored; typically deleted; some self-erase) Email Asynchronous Lean High (often stored; often shared with others) Social Networking Sites Typically asynchronous Lean (but can include photos, videos) High (and very public) Leanness Social scientists use the term richness to describe the abundance of nonverbal cues that add clarity to a verbal message (Otondo et al., 2008). Conversely, leanness describes messages that carry less information due to a lack of nonverbal cues. As you’ll read in Chapter 6, face-to-face communication abounds with nonverbal messages that give communicators information about the meanings of one another’s words. By comparison, most social media are much leaner. (See Figure 1.4.) To appreciate how message leanness varies by medium, imagine you haven’t heard from a friend in several weeks and you decide to ask, “Is anything wrong?” Your friend replies, “No, I’m fine.” Would that response be more or less descriptive depending on whether you received it via text message, over the phone, or in person? You almost certainly would be able to tell a great deal more from a face-to-face response because it would contain a richer array of cues, such Channel Examples Text Voice Audio-Visual In-Person Email, texting, letters, online posts Phone calls, voice mail Video conferencing, Skyping, FaceTime Face-to-face interaction Leaner Richer FIGURE 1.4 Leanness– Richness Spectrum of Communication Channels 25 26 PART 1 F OU ND ATI ONS OF I NTE RPERS O N A L CO MMU N I CAT I O N as facial expressions and vocal tone. By contrast, a text message is lean because it contains only words. A voice message—containing vocal cues but no visual ones—would probably fall somewhere in between. Because most mediated messages are leaner than the face-to-face variety, they can be harder to interpret with confidence. Irony and attempts at humor can easily be misunderstood, so as a receiver it’s important to clarify your interpretations before jumping to conclusions. Adding phrases such as “just kidding” or an emoji like can help your lean messages become richer, but your sincerity could still be interpreted as sarcasm. As a sender, think about how to send unambiguous messages ...
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