Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Katherine Miller (2005) states that interpersonal relationships and communication refer to social connection with others in various spheres such as work place, college, neighborhoods among others.
Various individuals tend to show various behaviors when interacting with other people. For instance, there are individuals that will only connect with individuals from certain genders, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds. Two theories that can be applied in explaining such behavior are social exchange theory and uncertainty reduction theory.
Social exchange theory can be applied in explaining one’s common behavior in the work place, college, or the neighborhood. Proposed by George Homans in 1958, it states that ‘give and take’ forms the foundations of nearly all relationships. However, the theorist added that give and take forms mainly vary with the intensity of the relationship. It is imperative to note that when someone in any form of a relationship, there are expectations from the other parties.
Actually, majority of individuals will argue that a relationship without expectations is meaningless. Essentially, human relationships cannot be one sided meaning that each party must be able to contribute to it. In the daily life, it is common for one to experience such occurrences when in social relationships.
Mainly, the intensity of the relationship with colleagues and allies is highly dependent on what an individual expects from it. For instance, when undertaking a project, colleagues will value the relationship because there is an outcome that they are looking forward to. On the other hand, when there is nothing being expected from the relationship, it tends to be weak and devalued.
However, according to the theory, it is imperative to note that one party can continue to sustain the relationship if there are unseen benefits that are expected from the relationship. This means that though one party may not be willing to be in the relationship, the other party may continue to push it forward. Uncertainty reductions theory proposed by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese explains the nature of relationship between individuals who do not know each other much.
It states that such individuals undergo a number of stages in order to reduce the level of uncertainty. It has three stages; entry, personal and exit stage. The entry stage refers to the phase where two individuals are straining to know much about one another. Mainly, an individual will try to examine the other person’s hobbies, family members, interests, and educational qualifications among others.
The personal stage is the phase which an individual tends to learn about the other person’s ethics, values, behavior, and traits. In this phase, an individual tries to get closer to an individual and studies them. The final stage is the exit stage which is the phase where after studying an individual a decision is made whether to stay or exit the relationship. In college, being in social groups has been a process where the theory applies. When interacting with colleagues of the opposite gender, it is common to find that they tend to focus on learning more about an individual.
This is normally experienced in a number of ways such as through random questions, for example, “What would you think about the country’s immigration policy?” It is imperative to note that after reaching the exit stage, such colleagues sustain a long-term relationship or keep away. Further, the action of studying an individual is normally a two-way process meaning that individuals in the said stages carry out the actions concurrently. According to West and Turner (2014), intrapersonal communication refers to communication within an individual. It is an important area that has seen increasing studies to understand it in greater length.
Theorists argue that communication can be seen to begin with self. Essentially, it can be seen that intrapersonal communication is limited to self as it only takes place within an individual. Advocated by Fritzer and Theodore Newcomb, the Balance theory states that when tension arises inside or between people, they tend to reduce it through self -persuasion. The theory has attempting to explain how intrapersonal communication happens despite various challenges being experienced in the field’s research area.
Actually, when an individual is faced with a situation that introduces tension, fear, or uncertainty, it is common for individuals to try finding inner strength in order to stand it. There are a number of occurrences that have made an individual balance the arising tension through making an intrapersonal communication. One good example is during high school presentation where tensions arose after school’s board unexpectedly joined the audience. Before making the presentation, one gained strength through talking to self and saying, “This can be done,” severally.
It was an effective way of balancing the tension that was accumulating. Essentially, it can be seen that communication can mainly be interpersonal or intrapersonal. While the latter entails communication with self and the former entails communication with others, different theories can be used to explain the actions.
- Miller, K. (2005). Communication Theories: Perspectives, Processes, and Contexts (2nd ed.).
- New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies. West, R. & Turner, L. (2014).
- Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application (5th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.