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Factors That Influence Interpersonal Communication

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  • 0:03 Are You Listening?
  • 1:15 Cultural Factors
  • 2:03 Situational Factors
  • 3:05 Developmental Factors
  • 3:30 Physical Factors
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joe Ricker
Communication between human beings is difficult if not impossible to avoid, so understanding the factors that influence communication might prevent hurt feelings or a slap in the face. This lesson will explore some of those factors.

Are You Listening?

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone only to be interrupted by a doorbell or a phone ringing? Have you been frustrated with someone during a conversation because they are texting someone else or are distracted by some outside influence? Have you struggled to get your point across to someone who doesn't seem to understand where you're coming from? Have you ever said something that's been taken out of context or misunderstood because of social or cultural differences? Most of us have, and this is because of the factors that influence interpersonal communication.

Interpersonal communication is the method and means for how we communicate with one another. Communication can be between siblings, spouses, strangers, co-workers, friends, etc. When you think about it, interpersonal communication is an inherent part of our everyday lives. That's why effective communication is important, and there are four factors that influence interpersonal communication:

  • Cultural
  • Situational
  • Developmental
  • Physical

These factors should be considered during communication because each factor presents potential barriers in communication that might influence the effectiveness of how we interact with each other or within groups of people.

Cultural Factors

Cultural factors include language, belief systems, morality, perspective, and customs. Language affects our communication because of the differences in translations and colloquialisms. Language barriers can also arise within our own language because of jargon or slang. Belief systems and morality have a large impact on how we communicate and who we communicate with.

For example, a heated debate between a republican and a democrat or an atheist and a Christian is an example of the barriers associated with belief systems and morality. Perspective or our attitudes certainly affect communication, and can be closely tied to morality and belief systems. Customs or the cultural practices of one person may be different from another. That, too, often presents a barrier for communication.

Situational Factors

Situational factors include things like physical and social environments, including, but not limited to bars, coffee shops, bedrooms, grandma's living room, the office, a bank robbery, or when you're pulled over by a police officer. Context is a paramount consideration in situational factors for interpersonal communication. Misinterpretations or missing information are barriers that might affect context in situational factors. Distractions, too, present barriers.

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