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Everything that we do with other people involves communication such that all our social interactions are communicative and they presume communication processes. Interpersonal communication is characterized by: communication from one individual to another, communication which is face to face and both the form and content of communication reflect the personal characteristics of the individual as well as their social roles and relationships (Ellis, 2009). Interpersonal communication develops relationships of some sort among the communicating parties for instance when there is high degree of trust among them, where each person is prepared to openly discus their feelings and where the participants have a mutual liking toward each other (Hartley, 2005). In this case the kind of relationship created is that of teacher to student relationship. Both the teacher and the student have the responsibility of seeking clarification whether they understand each other to minimize conflicts between them.
Interpersonal communication is always a two way process meaning that two parties must be involved. The parties pass messages to each other such that there is the sender and the recipient but this is not static since the sender also becomes the recipient to complete the communication process (Hartley,2005). The geography teacher in this case acts as the source when teaching and the students as the recipients. On the other hand the situation can be reversed where the student becomes the source and the teacher the recipient, this happens when the student seeks clarification.
Interpersonal communication is an ongoing process and not an event. However, during the process of communication several things may happen that may hinder or create problems such that the parties do not communicate as intended. In most cases these problems are termed as noise in the process of communication. They hinder the sender and the recipient from decoding the words and signs sent leading to misinterpretation of each other hence passing the wrong messages. For instance in the case where the geography teacher intends to communicate to students on probable examinable questions yet some other students do not understand the teacher and even though they are hardworking they end up failing the exam. In this scenario it can be concluded that some noise existed between the teacher and the students and the intended message was not communicated. The existence of communication problem between the teacher and the father of the student may be said to have resulted from anger of the father due to the son's failure in the test and the information availed to the father by the son. The remedies to this interpersonal communication will also be discussed later in the paper.
Problems of interpersonal communication
The complexities of language codes are often highlighted in communication across cultural boundaries. There are number barriers in interpersonal communication that are related to language. Among the most common include; lack of equivalent words where the sender and the receiver comes from different cultural backgrounds and they use same word to mean different things (Ellis, 2009), lack of equivalent grammar or syntax this may make the parties in the communication to misinterpret the information forwarded by each other. For instance same words may work as nouns or verbs or adjectives for example in English `lift a thumb' or `thumb a lift' in the first case the word a `thumb' is a noun and in the second case a `thumb' is verb. Use of idioms and similes may also cause misunderstanding as different culture use them differently. Pronunciation is also a major problem in interpersonal communication this may alter the meaning of the word for instance problems associated with pronunciation of `r' and `l' one may pronounce 'right' as `light' (Bovee &Thill, 2000). In a class context such pronunciation problems may make the students fail to communicate as intended. The language problems in the communications process are thus very common in classrooms for instance it's common to find student having different class notes as they hear different things from their teachers. The language used by the geography teacher may have not been understood by the student who failed in the test; this creates a conflict between the student and the teacher and it's escalated further to family of the student.
Use of non-verbal signs
Non verbal communication is a type of communication which consists of unspoken cues that a communicator sends in conjunction with spoken or written message for example, a person's tone of voice where the individual vary the the tone of the voice by either making it loud or sharp, facial expression, eye behavior, head nodding, nose thumbing, thumb movement. In addition one's postures and manner of walking also may have communication significance for instance a person may walk in a manner which indicates utter despair. Also the distance between two individual involved in private conversation shows the relationship between the two (Turner &West, 2008). It is therefore the responsibilities of the receiver and the sender to decode the message passage so as to avoid misunderstanding.
The receiver decodes and interprets the message sent and responds by sending back feedback which helps the sender to find out if the receiver has correctly interpreted the message. The problem arises where the receiver misinterprets the message sent since he or she will respond by wrong feedback. Such misinterpretation may arise since individual comes from different cultural background and a certain non verbal communication may have a totally different meaning to other cultures, for instance nodding of the head in some culture symbolizes acceptance or agreement but in some cultures it symbolizes disagreement (Kalefleisch,1993). In a class context the teacher's changes of tones, facial expressions or uses cues that they think will help them to communicate effectively. In hinting what topic will appear in the tests the expression made by the geography teacher may have been misunderstood by the students resulting in students revising in other topics which made them to fail the exam. Use of nonverbal cues at times thus poses a bid problem in interpersonal communication.
This problem is caused by physical barriers and is mostly due to our senses of smelling, touching, tasting, hearing and seeing. Among the common channel noise includes laughing talking, coughing, sneezing, and snoring such noise can be inside or outside the setting of the source and the recipient of the message. For instance an aircraft over a building or a lawn mower outside a classroom, people talking or yelling loudly in the hallways or outside windows it can be even murmuring of students in class in the class students noting may distract other from listening (Ellis, 2009). The speaker may also not be audible enough, may have inappropriate appearance or have bad mannerisms that contribute to poor communication with the audience. If the speaker keeps on jingling his keys from the pockets this is still noise that may distract effective communication (Campbell &Nelson, 2010). A school has many activities going on at the same time for instance cleaning of pavements, students moving up and down to laboratories and respective classes, cutting or trimming of hedges outside the classroom or continuous murmuring or laughing of students in class. All these distract the student in one way or the other from the teacher hence causing the student to miss some of the teacher's remarks. This means that communication is not effective. May be such noises distracted the student when the geography teacher hinted on the topic to appear in tests and this made the student not to capitalize on the hinted topic hence failing an exam which became the source of the conflict.
Psychological noise/emotional problem
It also presents barriers to communication. Nervousness and anxiety can sometimes in certain situations be barriers to communication as well as tension that may be caused by controversy or conflict. The source of the message may use words or phrases that may be viewed negatively by the other party. The topic of discussion may also be controversial or no appealing to the other party or the audience may feel that the speaker is biased hence he may lack interest in listening to the speaker (Hartley, 2005). On the other hand the topic of discussion may be boring and the person trying to communicate may also be boring this may make even the listener to start dozing or sleeping hence unable to hear the speaker's main points. It also true that some people may not like the person trying to pass messages and so they pay little attention no matter the message intended to be communicated. At times psychological noise may result from the audiences habit of thinking of what is to happen next for instance may be they also have to address the audience or they have a test in the near future or the events that happened sometimes back. Fatigue, stress or sometimes wrong timing for instance too early in the morning, too close to lunchtime or to late in the day when the listener are tired and the listeners may be faking attentiveness hence not decoding the message (Huff, 2008).
In class context for instance student fakes attentiveness to avoid being punished or to please their teachers. Such cases, the teacher may be cheated that the student have understood the message being passed to students yet this is not the case .The teacher leaves satisfied that the message has been passed. In our case the student who is failed to pass the test may had psychological problems when the teacher was explaining on the examinable topics in the tests hence failed to decode the message that was being passed on this left the teacher with the impression that all students were attentive and would pass exams if they capitalized on the taught areas but this was not the case since some students end up failing the test.In addition the problem of the communication between the teacher and the father of the student who failed the exam resulted from the irritation of the father due to his sons failure in the test, misunderstanding occurs when the father feels that the teacher has responsibility of making the student pass the test while may be the teacher felt that he communicated effectively to students on what to expect in the tests.
Solutions to interpersonal communication problems
Language problems should at all times be avoided when communication is taking place between individuals but the major concern is how to avoid them. The parties in a communication exercise should ensure that they use the words that have similar cross-cultural meanings so that misinterpretation is avoided. Use of idioms, similes and other figurative languages should also be avoided and if used they should explained and made sure that the recipient understands the message fully (Fussel & Kreuz, 1998). Pronunciation problems can be avoided by the source only if he practices to pronounce words properly however in some contexts like in a class pronunciation can be solved by spelling the words used or writing on the board so that communication is made effective. In addition to these language problems the teacher should understands the language problems of his students so that assistance is given in special cases as the instincts of the teacher feel that they may not comprehend the terms used.
Non verbal cues are inherent in any communication process and people should not always assume that they understand what gestures means otherwise the fail to comprehend the message sent. In order to avoid the problems associated with nonverbal signs the recipient should pay attention to what is being said since most nonverbal cues are aimed to emphasize a verbal message. For instance in class context a teacher may raise the voice to underscore something previously said. In addition it should be made sure that nonverbal and verbal messages match to avoid miscoding and misinterpretation. People should also be tentative in interpreting nonverbal communication due to the cultural differences in nonverbal cues. It also advisable to avoid non verbal distractions when communicating since it at times act as noise in interpersonal communication. For instance shifting your eyes or continuously playing with ones hair may add other meanings in the message being conveyed. Non verbal signs should also be put in context when using them. Attention should paid on non verbal cues but they should place in the right context. To understand what nonverbal cues means one should consider the entire communication process not just on element of it and we also need to ask others about what certain nonverbal cues mean in their culture (Turner & West, 2008).
In order to avoid psychological problems in interpersonal communication it advisable that to ensure that the parties in the communication process are psychologically prepared and they understand each other situation to avoid conflicting communication. The parties in the communication process should ensure that their topic of discussion is relevant, not boring and well timed to avoid distractions to other issues. It's also advisable that all parties are actively engaged for instance in class the teacher should engage students with questions to make sure that they do not fake attentiveness. In addition the case of parent teacher miscommunication, the parent should always be psychologically prepared that a student can fail or pass a test and it's not always the fate of a teacher for student failure. To avoid psychological problem in interpersonal communication the parties should ensure that they know their feelings, analyses the situation, owning their feelings reframing when needed and empathizing such practices are complex activities that involve sensitivity, awareness, insight and empathy therefore just like any proficiency, emotional communication require patience and persistence (West & Turner, 2008).
Solution to the channel noise can only be rectified by making sure the right channel to communication is used. The parties in the communication process should ensure that conducive environment exists so that communication is effective. In this case internal settings of the class should have minimal noise only that can not be controlled. The teacher should take the responsibility of ensuring source of noise such as murmuring is minimized; however little can be done on external settings since other activities must take place (Aswathappa, 2005). If in our case external noise is too high the teacher ought to raise his voice or the student to have asked the points missed for effective communication to take place.
Interpersonal communication is vital in developing relationships among individuals since every social interaction involves communication. As said earlier it involves at least two individuals passing messages to each other. Individual must be ready to express their feelings and emotions for interpersonal communication to be said to occur. It's a cyclic process that is continuous from source to recipient and vice versa where the recipient becomes the source and the source the recipient for the process to complete.
Interpersonal communicational though very important and inevitable in our day to day activities has certain problems that hinder effective communication to occur between individuals. These problems include: Language problems, channel related problems, non verbal cues interpretation problems and psychological and emotional problem such as anger love and pretence. These problems if not well checked makes the communication between individual to deviate from the original intentions and they need to be checked every time individuals are communicating to avoid conflicts for instance the one that emerged between the teacher and student.