Communication things like weather, seasons, etc. A conversation

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.

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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.For example, if there is a tremendous amount of noise in the background, it makes it difficult to communicate effectively. The same is true for internal distractions such as daydreaming or being mentally preoccupied with something other than the conversation at hand. Finally, communication channels – that is, the presence or absence of the people communicating: text messages, emails, letters and other correspondence don’t necessarily require an immediate response or engagement the way a face-to-face conversation does, so communication channels might also present communication barriers.

Developmental Factors

Developmental factors include the growth or advancement of communication during the course of learning a language. Since most of our language development occurs when we’re very young, the patterns of communication that we develop will have an impact on our interpersonal communication. Consider as well the situational factors that include developmental factors, like a mother speaking to her young child in the grocery store versus the conversation she might have with a teenager.

Physical Factors

Physical factors include the aspects of environment and physical location outside of situational context that include things like weather, seasons, etc.

A conversation outside during a snowstorm or thunder shower would have a different impact on communication if that conversation were to be held during a brisk, fall day. Having a conversation on a roller coaster might be impacted more than how you would feel during a conversation in the back seat of a vehicle, especially if roller coasters make you want to pee your pants!

Lesson Summary

Communication is often faced with barriers that can affect the way individuals or groups of people interact with each other. The means and methods for how we communicate is called interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication is influenced by four factors:

  • Cultural factors, which include language, belief systems, morality, perspective, and customs
  • Situational factors, which include physical and social environments
  • Developmental factors, which include the growth or advancement of communication during the course of learning a language
  • Physical factors, which include the aspects of environment and physical location outside of situational context, such as weather, seasons, etc.

Each of these factors affect the way an individual communicates, and it’s important to understand the barriers that might arise due to these factors to communicate effectively.


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