Term Paper: Interpersonal Communication Here Culture

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Interpersonal Communication

Here

Culture in Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication lies at the junction of our cultural understanding and construction and consequently, each of these components influences one another in more ways we can imagine. Language is perhaps the most pertinent tool in communications but this is neither the only nor the foremost element of importance in communication.

Each person's cultural background includes all the learned behaviors and rules that affect the interaction. If you come from a culture where it is considered rude to make long, direct eye contact, you will out of politeness avoid eye contact. If the other person comes from a culture where long, direct eye contact signals trustworthiness, then we have in the cultural context a basis for misunderstanding. Therefore, communication style varies from one ethnicity to another partly due to the nature of the construction of the language, partly due to the learned behaviors.

July 06: I had an interesting experience with informal time terms with my wife who happens to be Hispanic. When I would ask her when something would be done or when she wanted to go somewhere, she would say "manana" which I was told meant "tomorrow" while I was growing up. I was surprised to learn from her that "manana" simply means later and could be an hour later of a week later, with no definite timeframe implied. I have since learned to ask for specific timeframes when she gives me the "manana" answer.

In communicating with someone who has a different cultural background than me, I should put more effort into understanding the message that is to be transmitted. This could be easily done by asking supplementary questions. A misunderstood message can sometimes have major effects, even at a global scale. Edward Hall in "The Silent Language" tells how one Westerner was put out when Student Name 2 his South American counterpart kept him waiting for hours without reason. The American did not understand the difference in time expressed by South American societies and the United States. That difference caused a problem in communication.

II. Interpersonal relationships

Relationships are based on communication. If communication lacks or is poorly developed, the relationship is in danger of dissolution. Most people think communication is only about transmitting a certain message...and that's it. There's nothing more than that. But in fact, there is a lot more than just letting a message out. There is also listening, looking for feedback, giving feedback, otherwise we just have a dialog of the deaf.

Failure on both sides to understand what the other person is trying to transmit can lead to a dialog of the deaf, with the opposing sides failing to understand the viewpoint of the other. Such a situation leads, in most cases, to conflict. If the conflict is well managed by at least one person, it can have benefic effects on that relationship.

13 Jul 06: An example of a conflict that ended up being positive was the communications that I had with my stepdaughter when she first moved in with us. She was not used to having rules and discipline and several barriers went up immediately between us because we did not sit down and communicate our expectations and desires before trying to implement them. We spent several frustrating years trying to figure each other out until I finally sit her down and communicated my thoughts and ideas with her and that I actually did care about her and was not just being mean. She broke down and told me that she thought that I hated her and was basically rebelling on purpose to get attention. It was very eye-opening discussion and we have had very good, open communication since that time.

III. Verbal messages

Self-disclosure is seen as a useful strategy for sharing information with others. By sharing information, we become more intimate with other people and our interpersonal relationship is strengthened.

According to Cozby, self-disclosure has important repercussions on our social participation as it determines the number and the quality of our social relations. I was personally convinced by this after this year's Father's Day. On the 18th of June, in my Father's Day note to my dad, I disclosed to him how I really felt about his positive influence on my life and the person I have become. When I first thought about my message that I was going to write, I realized that I had never told him that, so his self-concept of what I thought of him was not a true picture. Also, I'm pretty sure his self-esteem as a father was lacking as well because he probably didn't feel as valuable or competent as he should. After reading the text, I also realized that I had opened up some of my hidden self to him. In return, he sent me an email message that contained things about how he felt about me that he had never said to me before. This immediately increased my self-concept, self-awareness and self-esteem as a person and father myself. It was amazing to watch how when one person decides to open up, the other person feels more comfortable in doing the same.

IV. Nonverbal messages

The messages with transmit through nonverbal communication are more important than we think. According to Argyle, Alkema and Gilmour, people react with a probability 5 times higher to nonverbal messages than to the verbal ones. They are easier to decode, therefore more rapidly understood...or misunderstood. I learned myself how easily we cam misinterpret a nonverbal message, especially when the parties involved have different cultural background. After a rather funny incident I had with my wife, I realized I need to become more aware of the cultural

Student Name 4 differences of different societies with nonverbal communication. A hand gesture in one society will be interpreted differently in another society. The same discrepancy can be observed not only in different societies, but also as far as gender or age is concerned.

On the 26th of June I had an interesting experience with how men and women interpret nonverbal communication. I was discussing countertop patterns for the house I am rebuilding in Slidell, La. And really liked a certain one which I pointed out to my wife. She nodded her head, but didn't say anything, so I took it as an agreement on the pattern. She stayed at our current home in Millington, TN while I went down to Slidell to work on the house and orders the countertops. When I told her which one I picked out, she got very upset because it was not the one she liked at all. I asked her why she nodded her head, which I took as agreement, and she said that she always does that as a part of her listening process to stay engaged in the conversation. The interaction really opened my eyes to be careful what I am interpreting with nonverbal communication.

V. Message and Conversation

To converse is a rather simple, natural thing for some people. For others, it's a quite stressful activity filled with misunderstandings on both sides and awkward moments of silence.

Even for people who feel uneasy having conversations with different people, there are strategies to be learned in order to communicate in an effective and pleasant manner. From the interactions I had with my family, friends, coworkers etc. I learned to be a more attentive listener, to offer frequent and positive feed-back, to express clearly what I mean and use less vague or interpretable terms. On the other side, I learned that sometimes it is necessary to ask for supplementary information even if that shows a lack of understanding on my behalf. By doing all this, there is a greater probability to increase accuracy in interpersonal perception.

On the 15th of June I experienced a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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