What is Interpersonal Communication?
Why do we communicate?
Discussing needs and stigma
Six characteristics of communication
Communication 5 myths
Find a partner (someone you don’t already know).
Introduce yourself (Name, major, where you are from…etc.)
See if you can find three things in common with your partner.
Be prepared to introduce your partner to the class.
Your Professor - Ms. Orzolek (Professor O)
General Education course credits completed at Luzerne
County Community College
Undergraduate degree in Communication Studies,
Interpersonal Communication from Bloomsburg University of
Graduate degree in Student Affairs and Academic
Leadership from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Communication Studies researcher, presented at the
Eastern Communication Association Conference
Other stuff about me…
I love to travel! (England, France, Spain, Canada, Mexico, etc.)
I am from Bloomsburg, PA
I get very passionate about Communication Studies (and
therefore) Interpersonal Communication.
I am a firm believer that education can change your life.
Please ask any questions you have now
regarding our course syllabus
If at any time you have a question please feel
free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s get started…
The necessity of human communication…
What would you be willing to do to win a million dollars?
What if researchers wanted you to volunteer to live for 3 months
alone in a cave with no clock, no calendar, no sunlight, no
conversation to mark the passage of days; wired to electrodes and
asked to perform dreary mental and visual tests?
Think of the last time you were COMPLETELY alone. Picture yourself
as clear as you can. What did you look like? What were you doing?
What as going through your mind? Now imagine another person
entering the room suddenly. Reaction? Differences?
Veronique La Guen’s Story
“When you find yourself alone, isolated in a world totally without
time, face-to-face with yourself, all the masks that you hide
behind—those to preserve your own illusions, those that project
them before others—finally fall, sometimes brutally…Whether
because of confinement, solitude, or both my mental process and
manual dexterity deteriorated gravely and inexorably toward the
end of my stay …I suffer psychological wound the I do not
--Michel Siffre’s diary of 6-month Midnight Cave, TX 1972
What is Interpersonal Communication?
Interpersonal communication is the process by
which people exchange information, feelings,
and meaning through verbal and non-verbal
messages: it is face-to-face communication.
Intrapersonal communication is a
communicator's internal use of language or
You are “talking to yourself” when you are talking to someone else.
**HINT: This question may reappear elsewhere…
We have been communication since
we were born.
However, not all individuals are good
"Having experience in something is not
the same as having expertise in it."
Chapter 1: About Communication
Did you know?
Positive communication improves our lives.
We are happier.
We live longer.
If you cannot communicate properly it is difficult to change
The difference between a good/meaningful relationship and
a bad/detrimental one?
Why do we need to communicate?
Answer: To meet certain needs.
1. Physical Needs
2. Relational Needs
3. Identity Needs
4. Spiritual Needs
5. Instrumental Needs
Need 1: Physical
"I was just surprised to know the advantages we
have with communication and the great
depression in which we can find ourselves if we
are denied communication. If our mental and
physical health can suffer without
communication it is the fact that we are by
nature inherently social beings."
Food for thought...
Humans are social beings.
When denied human interaction we suffer.
Solitary confinement example.
How long could you last?
Few hours, days, weeks, months, years?
Experiment occurred in the 13th Century.
German emperor Frederick II wanted to know what language humans
would speak naturally if they weren't taught any particular language.
50 newborns were placed in the care of nurses who were instructed to
only feed and bathe the children.
Nurses were not to speak around the newborns.
Answer was never found because all 50 infants died.
Research shows that...
People without strong social ties are more likely to suffer from major
ailments, including heart disease and high blood pressure, and to
die prematurely than people who have close, satisfying
Loneliness = Sleep disturbances and stress.
Where/what type of area do most suicides occur in the U.S.?
Answer: Rural Areas
A rural area is an open swath
of land that has few homes or
other buildings, and not very
many people. A rural areas
population density is very low.
Why don't some people interact with others?
They have been stigmatized.
Definition of stigma: A characteristic that
discredits a person, making him or her be seen as
abnormal or undesirable.
Not attribute itself but how that attribute is viewed by
others within society.
Examples of a stigma?
What are attributes that might cause someone
to be stigmatized?
Being HIV positive.
Having a mental illness.
They must have shared needles ...
They must be violent ...
Generate a list of 3-4 friends/relationships (try to pick
from a variety of circles)
List 3 - 4 things you value about each one of those
What did you list?
We turn to a variety of people to need our meets.
No person, not even a spouse can fulfill our every need.
Have you 'met someone online' that you
consider a legitimate friend?
In what ways has the internet helped you form
If what ways, if any, has it hurt your ability to
relate to others?
Need 3: Identity
"The ways we communicate with others - and the
ways others communicate with us - play a large role in
shaping how we see ourselves."
People form identities by comparing themselves with
You see yourself as intelligent - You see yourself as
smarter than other people
You see yourself as shy - You see others as more
outgoing than you are
You see yourself as attractive - You see yourself as
better looking than most people
If people treat you as intelligent, shy, or
attractive, you may begin to believe you
have those characteristics.
Good communicators can...
Emphasize different aspects at different times
Develop their identity over the course of their life
Example: During a job interview showing that
you are organized; showing that you are fun-
loving while hanging out with your friends
Need 4: Spirtuality
Spirituality involves people's beliefs about the meaning of
life, which often include personal philosophies, an awe of
nature, a belief in a higher purpose, and religious faith and
Question: Can you be spiritual and not religious?
Communication provides a means of expressing and
sharing spiritual ideas and practices
Need 5: Instrumental
Instrumental needs are practical everyday
May be used to complete a short-term task
(such as ordering a drink at a restaurant,
scheduling a haircut appointment, or raising
your hand to speak in class)
Also includes long-term goals (such as getting
a job and earning a promotion)
Physical Needs: Helps us maintain physical and mental well-
Relational Needs: Helps us form social and personal
Identity Needs: Helps us decide who we are and who we
want to be
Spiritual Needs: Lets us share our beliefs and values with
Instrumental Needs: Helps us accomplish many day-to-day
What is a model?
A model is a formal description of a process.
There are three models that Communication scholars
have developed over the years ...
1. The Action Model
2. The Interaction
3. Transaction Model
Communication as an Action - Linear
Source: The originator of a thought or idea
Encode: To put an idea into language or gesture
Message: Verbal and nonverbal elements of communication in which people give
Channel: A pathway through which messages are conveyed
Decode: To interpret or give meaning to a message
Receiver: The party who interprets the message
Noise: Anything that interferes with the encoding or decoding of a message
What are some examples of 'noise' as found within the Action Model?
Communication as Interaction
Has all the same elements as the Action Model but
recognizes the communication is a two way process.
Also, it adds the two elements of feedback and
Thank physics! Every action has a reaction!
What is feedback?
Feedback is various verbal and nonverbal responses to
your message (an example might be nodding).
Can you think of anymore examples?
What is context?
Context is synonymous with environment.
(Includes both the physical and the physiological)
Examples of physical...
Where you are physically interacting with one another
Examples of physiological...
How formal is the setting?
How much privacy do you have?
How emotionally charged is the situation?
Transactional Model of Communication
Doesn't distinguish between roles of source and receiver
States that both people are simultaneously sources and
Transactional Model - The Complex Model
Doesn't just account for physical and psychological
environment but account for...
History of relationship
Six Characteristics of Communication
1. Communication relies on multiple channels
2. Communication passes through perceptual filters
3. People give communication meaning
4. Communication has literal meanings and relational implications
5. Communication sends a message whether intentional or
6. Communication is governed by rules
What are different ways people communicate with one
Channel-rich contexts vs. Channel-lean contexts
Channel-rich contexts involve many different communication
channels at once
Channel-lean contexts have a smaller amount of channels
Would text messaging be considered a channel-rich or a channel-lean
In a nutshell...
Channel-rich context: A communication context
involving many channels at once.
Channel-lean context: A communication context
involving few channels at once.
Think about quality of interaction.
Communication Passes Through Perceptual Filters
What one person says isn't always what the other person hears.
We all "filter" incoming communication through our perceptions,
experiences, biases, beliefs, etc.
Episode of Friends example, "We were on a break!"
People Give Communication it's Meaning
We chose are words deliberately. By itself a word has no meaning...it is just
People assign meaning.
A world is a symbol, or a representation of an idea, but the word itself isn't the
idea or the meaning.
Language is arbitrary … meaning words can mean whatever groups of
people want them to mean.
Mouse 40 years ago vs. Mouse now
Bus & Baby example
Military base example
What do you think of when you hear the word 'flat'?
What do you think of when you hear the word 'cell'?
Communication has Literal Meanings and
Content dimension vs. Relational dimension
Content dimension: Literal information that is communicated by a
Relational dimension: Signals about the relationship in which a message is
"We are out of laundry detergent." <--- Content or relational?
"I am feeling down today." <--- Content or relational?
"I am feeling down today."
You may also be sending the message...
"I feel comfortable enough with you to share my
"I want you to help me feel better."
What is metacommunication?
Metacommunication is communication about communication.
Example...explaining your feelings to someone.
500 Days of Summer example:
Communication Sends Messages
Whether Intentional or Intentional
Scheduling a meeting vs. Falling asleep in a meeting
Some Communication scholars argue, "You cannot not
Do you agree or disagree?
Communication is Governed by Rules
Rules tell us what behaviors are required, preferred, or
prohibited in various social contexts.
Explicit rules: Someone has clearly articulated them.
Example: Professor saying that you cannot talk to other
classmates during lecture.
Implicit rules: Rules that almost everyone in a certain social
group knows and follows, even though no one has formally
articulated and expressed them.
Example: Waiting room at the dentist. (Where do you sit?)
Additional example: Bathroom stalls/urinals
Communication 5 Myths
1. Everyone is an expert in communication
2. Communication will solve every problem
3. Communication can break down
4. Communication is inherently good
5. More communication is always better
Myth 1: Everyone is an Expert in Communication
Having experience with something is not expertise in it.
Many people drive but that does not make them a
Many people are parents but that does not making
them an expert in parenting.
Myth 2: Communication Will Solve Any Problem
Poor communication isn't the cause for every problem.
Tom says, "I think we can fix our relationship if we
improve our communication."
Summer says, "My feelings have changed. I have
In this scenario it is highly unlikely communication will
keep this couple together, however it may cause Tom
to realize their relationship is already over.
Myth 3: Communication Can Break Down
Communication isn't mechanical. It doesn't 'break down'.
It is possible that two individuals no longer communicate
In a nutshell...the problem does not lie in the communication itself
but how it is used.
Myth 4: Communication is Inherently Good
"Sure we talk all the time, but we don't really communicate anymore."
Essentially talking = producing words
Essentially communicating = creating shared meaning
Communication, just like money, can be used in a variety of ways.
Communication can be used to deceive people or intimidate them.
Myth 5: More Communication is Always Better
In some cases increasing communication can just lead
to more frustrating and anger.
Effectiveness is better than amount.
This is why learning to be a competent communicator is
Study 2007: The more doctors talked the more likely they
were to get off track and forget their patients' problems.
Definition of Mass Communication &
Small Group Communication
Mass communication: Communication from one source to a large
Last Week Tonight - John Oliver example
Small group communication: Communication occurring within small
groups of three or more people who wish to accomplish a goal.
Note: Most research on interpersonal communication focuses on
interaction within a dyad (a pair of people = two people)
Married people are in better health than unmarried
people but researchers don't agree why.
Some think that married people are healthier because
they have more resources at their disposal.
Other say married people are less likely to engage in
Characteristics of Competent
Awareness of one's behavior and how it affects others
Do you know anyone who talks really loudly but doesn't know it?
Do you pay attention to what you wear, how you sound, and act?
Empathy: The ability to think and feel as others do.
**Not to be confused with sympathy which is simply feeling sorry for
An empathic person can see multiple perspectives within a situation.
Research shows that in most circumstances women are
more accurate than men at empathizing.
Is empathizing a learned trait?
If so, how and why did women learn to be more
Is this related to social/cultural norms?
Cognitive Complexity - What is it?
Cognitive complexity: The ability to consider a variety of
explanations and to understand a given situation in
It keeps you from jumping to the wrong conclusion and
Fiance ring example
Finally, competent communicators are
Ethics: A code of morality or a set of ideas
about what is right.
What might be morally justified in one
culture may not be in another.
Review: Five Characteristics of
1. Self-Awareness: Awareness of how your behavior is
2. Adaptability: Ability to modify your behaviors as the
3. Empathy: Skill at identifying and feeling what others around
you are feeling
4. Cognitive Complexity: Ability to understand a situation in
5. Ethics: Guidelines in judging whether something is morally
right or morally wrong
Begin working on Reflection Paper #1.
Do not forget to complete Quiz #1 and turn in it
No class Labor Day.