Dear Bob and Mary, I would like to congratulate both of you on your recent engagement. I feel honored that you have asked me for advice from the valuable information I have studied in my Interpersonal Communication course.
Most people feel as though they have better communication with those they are closet to, when in reality, those communications may be worse due to “closeness communication bias” (Annonymus,2011). We often tend to lose our communication detail once we get comfortable with those we are close to.
I would like to offer you some advice for better communication using some of the skills I studied in this course. I feel that you probably use some of these skills while communicating on a daily basis, without even thinking about it.
I would like to begin by explaining the principles of misconceptions in effective interpersonal communication. Effective interpersonal communication can be achieved through conscious awareness of the following principles. We must treat each other with respect, do not interrupt one another and know that we have the right to pass.
By treating each other with respect we put the energy we use complaining about others to better use. For example, we enjoy ourselves and are present for loved ones instead of being distracted by difficulties with others. When we agree not to interrupt one another we focus our attention on what our loved one has to say. By doing so, the conversation will become more interesting and worthwhile instead of difficult or boring. Choosing not to do something that we feel we ‘should’ do when we don’t want to is using our right to pass.
Trying to change others does not show love, nor is it possible. We must acknowledge that when others try to change us, it is uncomfortable. We must take responsibility for our own actions, because no-one else can.
Next, I would like to describe the process by which self-concept is developed and maintained. Self-concept is the ideas and beliefs about the self. Self-concept is developed through many viewpoints and impressions. Our own behavior is one of the main ways we show self-concept. The way a person alters and arranges their self-concept for actions they have taken is self-perception theory. We form our own self-concepts by viewing others in a comparative sense. As humans, we tend to look at things that separate us from the norm. This helps us to form a better individual self-concept of ourselves.
Self-concept is maintained by different mental and psychological inferences and attributions. Self-concept is seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The phenomenom of selective memory also affects self-concept. Selective memory will help to reinforce the beliefs a person has of themselves. This is also reinforced by attribution. Self-concept is maintained to give stability of ones self. The psychology of the self has two parts. One being self-concept and the other being self-esteem.
We will now discuss emotional intelligence and its’ role in effective interpersonal relationships. The ability of an individual to adequately and properly identify, evaluate and control ones emotions is known as emotional intelligence. Having the ability to sense, recognize and integrate personal emotions and control emotions to achieve personal growth and development also plays a major role in emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence plays a major role in interpersonal relationships. It goes a long way in defining the relationship. In times of dispute, both parties must be able to be on top of their emotions for the relationship to grow stronger. Emotional intelligence helps to communicate effectively with you partner. “Emotional intelligence provides a person with the ability to understand the difference between damaging and effective communication. It also makes room for opportunities to transform conflict into an opportunity for building relationships.”
As we move on, I will address evaluating appropriate levels of self-disclosure in relationships. Self-disclosure is a purposeful disclosure of personal information to another person. This disclosure could be verbal or non-verbal. Self-disclosure that works out well, it can have a positive effect on interpersonal relationships. However, self-disclosure that does not work well can have an adverse effect such as embarrassment, lower self-esteem or relationship deterioration. Self-disclosure does not always have to be useful or meaningful. Often, the form of “small talk” is the key to initiating relationships that later move onto more personal levels of self-disclosure.
“People in a relationship balance needs that are sometimes in tension, which is a dialectic. Balancing a dialectic is like walking a tightrope. You have to lean to one side and eventually lean to the other side to keep yourself balanced and prevent falling. The constant back and forth allows you to stay balanced, even though you may not always be even, or standing straight up. One of the key dialectics that must be negotiated is the tension between openness and closeness.”
I will now discuss the strategies for managing interpersonal conflicts. It is a simple fact of life that wherever there are people, there will always be conflict. When people have different opinions, values or priorities conflict can be created in our lives and work. The conflict itself is not the problem though. The problem lies in how we deal with the conflicts we face on a daily basis. Some strategies for managing interpersonal conflict include dealing with conflict, conflict needs to be dealt with, thinking it through, talking it out face-to-face, using a mediator if necessary, apologizing when it is appropriate, choosing our battles, working to minimize conflict, working on our communication skills, and avoiding trouble makers as much as possible.
Most people prefer to avoid conflict. However, if you do not attempt to resolve interpersonal conflicts you are usually left with feelings of guilt and regret. Ignoring or avoiding the conflict can lead to increased stress, feelings of anger, hostility, and resentment. Before addressing the person with whom you have a conflict, plan a strategy and stick to it when you come face-to-face with that person. Meeting in person can be intimidating, but is often the best way to go. This allows for an active exchange of information.
If other efforts to resolve the conflict do not work, you may consider getting a third party involved such as a mediator or an attorney. Be firm on your objective and remember that you are not there to defeat an opponent, but to resolve a conflict. Be willing to acknowledge what you have done wrong. Say you’re sorry even if the conflict was not entirely your fault. Only bring up the most important issues. Do not make an issue out of the little things. Take steps to minimize the conflict before it arises. Have the ability to express yourself clearly, so that other will know where you stand. Do not emerge in gossip and backstabbing. Be sure you get all of the facts before you jump to conclusions. You cannot avoid conflict. However, you can minimize and resolve it. Facing conflict head-on will lead to better relationships.
Developing strategies for active, critical, and empathic listening also can play a major role in interpersonal communication. One of the most important skills we have is listening. How well we listen to one another has a huge impact on our relationships. We must listen to obtain information, understand, enjoy, and learn. Most of us however, are not good listeners. Research suggests that we only remember twenty five to fifty percent of what we hear. That means that while talking to our spouse for ten minutes, they only pay attention to half the conversation. With that being said, we never hear the whole message.
Listening is a skill that we can all benefit from. By using better listening skills we can improve our productivity, as well as our ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. We will also be able to avoid misunderstandings.
To become better listeners we must practice. We need to make a conscious effort to not only hear the words being said, but to understand the complete message being sent. This means we must say very close attention to the other person. Remind yourself frequently that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying.
In conclusion, through my studies I have found that communication skills are an important part of our everyday lives and relationships. Without communication we would not be able to function properly. I wish you both best of luck and many happy years together. Once again, I am very honored that you have asked for my advice on your new engagement.
References: www.communication and conflict.com www.suite101.com www.emotional intelligence.org www.2012books.lardbucket.org www.dcardillo.com Kathy Sole (2011) Making Connections: Understanding Interpersonal Communication. Bridgepoint Education, Inc. San Diego, CA. Retrieved information from: https://content.ashford.edu/books/AUCOM200.11.1 - 2 -
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