The Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication
Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication
These principles underlie the workings in real life of interpersonal communication. They are basic to communication. We can't ignore them.
Interpersonal communication is inescapable
We can't not communicate. The very attempt not to communicate communicates something. Through not only words, but through tone of voice and through gesture, posture, facial expression, etc., we constantly communicate to those around us. Through these channels, we constantly receive communication from others. Even when you sleep, you communicate. Remember a basic principle of communication in general: people are not mind readers. Another way to put this is: people judge you by your behavior, not your intent.
Interpersonal communication is irreversible
You can't really take back something once it has been said. The effect must inevitably remain. Despite the instructions from a judge to a jury to "disregard that last statement the witness made," the lawyer knows that it can't help but make an impression on the jury. A Russian proverb says, "Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again."
Interpersonal communication is complicated
No form of communication is simple. Because of the number of variables involved, even simple requests are extremely complex. Theorists note that whenever we communicate there are really at least six "people" involved: 1) who you think you are; 2) who you think the other person is; 3) who you think the other person thinks you are; 4) who the other person thinks they are; 5) who the other person thinks you are; and 6) who the other person thinks you think they are.
We don't actually swap ideas, we swap symbols that stand for ideas. This also complicates communication. Words (symbols) do not have inherent meaning; we simply use them in certain ways, and no two people use the same word exactly alike.
Osmo Wiio gives us some communication maxims similar to Murphy's law (Osmo Wiio, Wiio's Laws--and Some Others (Espoo, Finland: Welin-Goos, 1978):
· If communication can...