Interpersonal Communication


Interpersonal communication is defined by Michael Cody as: the exchange
of symbols used to achieve interpersonal goals(28). Does this definition
include everything, or does it only include certain things?. When we are
dealing with the issue of interpersonal communication we must realize that
people view it differently. In this paper I will develop my own idea or
definition of what interpersonal communication is. I will then proceed to
identify any important assumptions or issues that become important in the
definition that I choose. Finally, I will provide examples of communicative and
non-communicative events based on my definition.
Interpersonal communication, in my opinion, is the exchange of
information verbal or non-verbal between two, no more than 5 or 6, people for
the purpose of getting a feedback and sharing information. Interpersonal
communication is not interpersonal if it involves too many people. When the
number of people exceeds a certain amount it is no longer interpersonal
communication,it then becomes mass communication. In my definition it is vital
that feed-back be given to the person that is doing the communicating. When
feedback is not present then the lines of communication break down and then
there is no communication at all. Even if the message is perceived wrong
interpersonal communication still exists as long as the feedback is given. For
example: when you talk to someone that is hard of hearing and you ask them to do
something and they hear you say something other than what you said there is
still interpersonal communication, although it is miscommunication. If the
person, however, does not here the speaker at all and does not give any feedback,
then interpersonal communication has not been established according to my
definition.
Another important dimension to my definition is that the information is
exchanged in order to share the information. When the information that is
exchanged is not used to share the information, then interpersonal communication
has not taken place. If you speak in a way in which the person does not feel
receptive to what you are saying then you have not achieved interpersonal
communication. When a boss yells at his employees, or a teacher yells at his or
her students then interpersonal communication has not taken place. True
communication has taken place, but it was not interpersonal communication. The
information is not being shared it is being forced upon people. The information
has to be shared such as when a friend tells another friend about a problem that
he or she is having or when a child talks to his or her parents about something
personal. That information is being shared by two people in order to illicit a
feedback.
There are many important issues that become important when discussing my
definition of interpersonal communication. One primary assumption is that
communication must be carried on by people that are alive. Michael Cody uses an
assumption like this when he is discussing his definition of interpersonal
communication. Codys\' assumption says that interpersonal communication occurs
between people who are in a state of being. His state of being is different
form mine in that I mainly imply that the person must be alive in order to
establish interpersonal communication. In Cody\' assumption his state of being
is three pronged including, 1) people change, 2) people are searching for
meaning for development and 3) it implies that communication can never be
replicated (Cody 30). When Cody talks about "being " he is going into more
detail than I would. As stated earlier my state of being means just being alive.

Another important issue that needs to be brought up when discussing my
definition of interpersonal communication is the issue of the number of people.
When dealing with the issue of interpersonal communication the amount of people
being communicated with is of utmost importance. Can a preacher have
interpersonal communication with his congregation on Sunday morning?. According
to my definition he cannot. Interpersonal communication must be done when there
is a certain amount of people. You cannot have one person and have
interpersonal communication, likewise, you cannot have a hundred people and have
interpersonal communication either. Interpersonal communication must be done
when at least two people are present. In order for the communication to stay
effective you cannot have more than six people. The reason for the limitation
is that when too many people get involved it becomes harder to bring forth the
message that you want to send. As I stated earlier if the message is not sent
and shared then interpersonal communication has not taken place.
Finally, I would like to discuss some examples of communicative and non-
communicative events based on the definition