Let me take this opportunity to congratulate each one of you for finding love and your apparent commitment to establish a functional relationship. Your desire to learn how to use interpersonal communication in your relationship indicates that you are committed to establishing a long-term interdependent beneficial relationship.
This step is an admirable start, and it is highly recommended. Secondly, I am grateful because of your confidence in my expertise and advice on this significant element of a healthy interpersonal relationship. In response to your inquiry, I shall explore the main aspects of interpersonal communication, which are a prerequisite to building of a working interpersonal relationship.
These aspects include principles and misconceptions in effective interpersonal communication, barriers to effective interpersonal interactions, and the process by which self-concept is developed and maintained. I shall also discuss strategies for active, critical, and empathic listening coupled with how perceptions, emotions, and nonverbal expressions affect interpersonal relationships.
An interpersonal relationship is complex and requires a lot of work on the part of both parties. Effective interpersonal communication is a cornerstone of a healthy interpersonal communication. It is pertinent for the sake of your relationship to note that communication relies up on the interaction between the two parties communicating and one party can not warrant its success (Pearson et al, 2006, p.157). Therefore, learning personal communication ideas and acquiring given communication skillfulness is fundamental to effective interaction.
Interpersonal communication refers to communication that takes place in an interpersonal relationship like yours (Miller and Steinberg cited in Pearson et al, 2006, p.132). You communicate with others in an interpersonal way when your communication is limited to a situation in which you are aware of the personal characteristics, individuality or behaviors of your friend, partner or the other person.
The two of you should, therefore, do a lot of work in knowing and understanding each other on a personal basis, so that your communication may be based on interpersonal knowledge. It is essential to remember that this is a long-term developmental process.
The principle of self-disclosure is a fundamental factor for growth and development of your relationship. Self-disclosure refers to a process whereby each partner deliberately reveals her or his part of private life that others would otherwise not know (Pearson et al, 2006, p.136). Self-disclosure consists of sensitive, confidential or private information that is deliberately provided.
Self- disclosure makes a spouse transparent and helps others to understand you as a distinct individual (Pearson et al, 2006, p.136). You should note that self-disclosure is not synonymous with a superficial self-description. However, it is necessary to be cautious of the misconception that self-disclosure is exclusively negative information.
Even though, it may entail some negative things about your past, it is, and should be, largely positive information communicated in a positive way that is bound to build your relationship (Pearson et al, 2006, p.136). A personal position on a controversial issue like abortion, your sexual life, your worst life fears, one of your happiest and proudest moments in life, struggle with addictions, alcohol and drugs are an example of what a typical self-disclosure may comprise.
Why is self-disclosure important? First and foremost, it helps you to develop a deeper understanding of yourself (Pearson et al, 2006, p.137). Secondly, it is my pleasure to let you know that self-disclosure if handled properly will enable each of you to acquire positive attitude about oneself and others.
Thirdly, In turn, this will help you to develop the much longed for a meaningful relationship as you have indicated by your desire to obtain knowledge on effective communication in your relationship (Pearson et al, 2006, p.137). For example, if you had been addicted to a given unhealthy habit of which you feel guilty, and you can gather enough courage to share your feelings and opinions with your spouse, you may be stormed to learn that it is something that many people have fallen victim.
You may even be surprised to hear that your spouse stood with his or her kin or a friend who was struggling with the same habit in the past. It has been established by scholars such as Hasting that, self-disclosure is an effective and powerful form of communication particularly during times of sorrow and healing of a broken spirit or self-identity (Pearson et al, 2006, p.137).
Through self-disclosure, your relationship will grow up in terms of meaning and depth. You will realize greater sense of emotional security if self disclosure between the two of you is deliberate and honest (Pearson et al, 2006, p.138). The bottom line is remarkably straightforward, the more each one of will self-disclose to the other the more the other will most likely disclose his or her views. Your inability as a couple to self-close and listen carefully will subject your tastelessness, shallowness and end.
I take this opportunity to caution you against the usual misconception that, by putting in to practice skills of openness, empathy, and acquiring skills of problem-solving and conflict resolution, you will automatically realize a satisfying and successful relationship (Pearson et al, 2006, p.157).
This impractical perception culminates into disappointment when you practice these noble ideas, and you end up failing to realize a successful and satisfying interpersonal relationship. Above everything, else always remember that effective communication is particularly elusive and laden by a myriad of challenges, and interpersonal communication is a prime example of a context in which it can even be more challenging.
The principle of affectionate and supportive communication is a basic factor in interpersonal communication. Having tender and warmhearted feelings towards each other in your relationship is fundamental (Pearson et al, 2006, p.153).
There are various ways of expressing your affectionate feelings toward your partner most of which are non-verbal as shown in kissing, hugging, caressing one another and touching. You also do it verbally through statements of fondness like “I love you”, “It is fun to be with you” or” I care about you.” (Pearson et al, 2006, p.153) You should note that affectionate communication is usually faced by various risks.
Therefore, there are significant factors you should always consider when you are offering one another affectionate statements. Such factors include your spouse’s biological sex, your own biological sex, and the form of relationship you have (either or romantic or platonic), inclinations of each one of you and the emotional and confidentiality of a given situation (Pearson et al, 2006, p.153).
You should remember that when you tell someone that you love him or her, it holds different meanings relying on how you have defined your relationship in the past. This definition might be based on your partner’s sex, your own sex, how the other partner feels about you, and the level of privacy of the situation in which you chose to share your feelings (Pearson et al, 2006, p.157).
The principle of supportive communication is extremely beneficial in interpersonal communication. Support in this context may comprise but is not limited to giving assistance, showing concern and offering advice (Pearson et al, 2006, p.154). Virtually, all people respond positively; however, the form of support preferred is different from one situation to another because of the receiver’s age and goals of the support provider.
For example, during the time of grief, showing concern allows people to feel less distressed. In such a case, the sorrowful person is most likely to feel less distressed when the comforting message is given by a close friend than an acquaintance (Pearson et al, 2006, p.154).
Influencing others in interpersonal communication is as powerful as it is in public communication. Influencing other can either be compliance-gaining and compliance-resistance (Pearson et al, 2006, p.154). Compliance-gaining refers to an attempt made by one of you, as a source of a message, to influence the other to behave in a certain way that the other might not have otherwise done.
Compliance-gaining is common in intrapersonal communication. For instance, you persuade your partner to be more committed. You will also from time to time seek advice from one another or ask for financial assistance. On the other hand, compliance-resisting takes place when your partner refuses to act in accordance with your requests. Compliance-resisting in interpersonal communication is a result of varied factors, some of which the target partner may view as inappropriate, and thus, deliberately choose not to reply.
Even though, your goal is to uphold a satisfying relationship, it is pertinent to be open-minded to the fact relationships do not always last. There are various barriers to effective interpersonal interactions comprising individual and message characteristics in interpersonal communication. Individual characteristics, which can be destructive to you relationship, include abuse (physical, mental, sexual or otherwise), and obsessions like jealousy and codependency among others.
Jealousy is prevalent in most interpersonal relationships and is attributed with certain communicative behaviors (Pearson et al, 2006, p.149). Jealousy refers to being possessively vigilant of your spouse or feeling threatened by able rivals for your spouse’s affections. You should remember that, if you communicate your jealousy through wrath and avoidance, you are likely to harm your young relationship (Pearson et al, 2006, p.149).
In addition, note that your response to jealousy can affect your relationship in six different ways. Jealousy can potentially assist you to maintain your relationship, lower anxiety about a rival relationship, re-examine your relationship, lower uncertainty about the basic relationship, maintain your self-esteem and restore equity through revenge (Pearson et al, 2006, p.149).
Message characteristics that can hamper effective interpersonal interactions include deceptive communication, hurtful messages, aggressiveness and defensiveness (Pearson et al, 2006, p.150). Hurtful messages are common in all relationships during different stages of their development.
They are essentially messages that cause emotional hurt and do not necessarily disruptive to a relationship. However, you should note that, if hurtful messages are allowed to become an order of your daily lives or are too intense that one of you cannot forget them, they will turn out to be disruptive (Pearson et al, 2006, p.150). Deceptive communication is another serious barrier to effective interpersonal interaction.
It is the practice of intentionally making your partner things that are not true (Pearson et al, 2006, p.151). Deceptive communication leads to relational dissatisfaction and its ending. Aggressiveness is the tendency of a person standing up for his or her rights in a manner that is insensitive to others. Such people care about their own needs only and are rarely mindful of others (Pearson et al, 2006, p.151).
Defensiveness takes place when one partner feels attacked. In this case trust is fundamental for a healthy relationship that you desire to establish. You should establish trust between the two of you. That the trust should, however, not be established on the basis of status, positions or roles (Pearson et al, 2006, p.151). Reduction of defensiveness is essential to building of trust. You should come into this relationship without the standing and trickiness of the responsibilities you play.
Self-concept plays a significant role in interpersonal relationships and interpersonal communication that takes place in them. Self-concept refers to your personal concept; who you are, and how you fit in this world (Purkey, 1988, pPara1). It can also be understood as the totality of complicated, organized and a self-motivated system of learned attitudes, beliefs and opinions that you hold to be true about your personal existence (Purkey, 1988, Para 2).
In an interpersonal relationship, as aforementioned, self-concept refers to your own concept of what you are in that relationship, and how well you fit in it. You should note that, the majority of successes and/or failures that you will encounter in this relationship are closely related to the way each of you will learn to view yourself and relationship with your spouse (Purkey, 1988, Para 2). Self-concept is acquired or learned, dynamic and organized.
No one is born with a self-concept. Instead, it slowly comes out during the early days of life and is molded and reshaped through frequent perceived experiences especially with other notable people (Purkey, 1988, Para 10; Logan, 2008, p.156). Since it is learned, it will have serious implications on your relationship. Self-concept is developed through a continuous process.
The process is characterized by orderliness and harmony (Purkey, 1988, Para 10). It is maintained through consistency and stability. This is seen in an individual’s maintenance of numerous perceptions with respect to his or her existence. Self-concept is dynamic in that is like a guidance system that enables an individual to adapt a consistent bearing in his or her life (Purkey, 1988, Para 11).
It provides consistency in personality and guidance for your behavior. You should note that, a healthy person constantly assimilates new ideas and expels old ideas throughout his or her life (Purkey, 1988, Para 11). This knowledge is a call for behavioral flexibility, which is critical to effective interpersonal communication in your relationship.
Active listening is a communication method that requires the listener to comprehend, interpret and assess carefully what they hear (Beebe et al, 2003, p. 121). I would like you to remember that active listening will lead to an improved interpersonal relationship by reducing conflicts, promoting mutual understanding, and strengthening cooperation between the two of you.
When interacting, you should ensure that you are not distracted by thinking about other things or thinking about what you will say next which is particularly common when there is a disagreement (Beebe et al, 2003, p. 121).
In active listening, you should focus all of your attention to the speaker by putting aside your own frame of reference, shunning judgment and suspending other internal mental activities. Doing so will enable you to listen to the speaker, observe the speaker’s nonverbal language and behavior (Beebe et al, 2003, p. 121). When you interpret a person’s body language you are likely to develop a more accurate comprehension of the speaker’s message.
Self-perception, as well as perception of others, emotions, and nonverbal expressions have serious implications on interpersonal relationships. You should note that the majority of your communication will be nonverbal. Nonverbal communication is also known as body language.
It comprises posture, eye contact, tone of your voice, facial expressions and gestures (Segal et al, 2011, Para 1). Body language is a powerful instrument that can help you connect, express what you mean by something, deal with various challenging situations, and develop a healthy relationship (Segal et al, 2011, Para 1; Riggio & Feldman, 2005, p.18).
You should note that, the way you listen, move, look and react will tell the other person whether you care or not as well as how attentive you are. Note that the body signals that you send to the other party can generate a sense of trust, interest, connection and desire or produce confusion, disinterest or distrust (Segal et al, 2011, Para 4). Self-perception is guidance system of your behavior, and thus how effectively or ineffectively you relate with others.
If you are a flexible person behavior wise, you are likely to establish a healthy relationship by learning new ideas and expelling unwholesome ideas. Emotional security is fundamental to a stable and meaningful interpersonal relationship because; if one of you is emotionally hurt or neglected, he or she is bound to withdraw or be defensive. Withdrawal can in turn potentially lead to a despondency cycle which is ultimately destructive.
Interpersonal communication is a cornerstone of successful and interpersonal relationship. You should be cautious about myths such as if learn communication skills problem-solving and conflict resolution that you will realize a successful and satisfying relationship. You should be open to the fact that, effective communication is challenging, especially in interpersonal relationship. I wish you a long term, fruitful and meaningful relationship. Continue to seek knowledge on how you can develop your relationship in meaning and depth.
Beebe, S. A., Redmond, M., & Geerinck, T. (2003). Interpersonal communication:
Relating to others. Ottawa, Pearson Education Canada.
Logan, T. (2006). Women and victimization: contributing factors, interventions, and implications. New York, NY: American Psychological Association.
Pearson, J., Nelson, P., Titsworth, S., & Harter, L. (2006). Human Communication with Learning Tool Suite. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Purkey, W. (1988). An Overview of Self-Concept Theory for Counselors. Retrieved From
Riggio, R. E., & Feldman, R. S. (2005). Applications of nonverbal communication. New York, NY: Routledge.
Segal, J., Smith, M., & Jaffe, J. (2011). Nonverbal Communication: The Power of Nonverbal communication and Body Language. Retrieved from