Interpersonal communication in the workplace is an essential skill to master. In this lesson, you’ll learn about interpersonal communication and its fundamental processes. You’ll also have a chance to take a short quiz.

Process of Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is the sending and receiving of information between two or more people. Interpersonal communication in the workplace also involves this interaction in varying relational situations, such as between co-workers and between superior and subordinates.

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Interpersonal communication is a process of exchange. The components of this process include sender, message, channel and receiver. The sender is the one initiating the message. The message is the information that will be sent. The channel is the manner in which the message is sent. The receiver is the one to whom the information is sent. Let’s look at this process step by step.

  1. A sender composes the message in his mind. In composing the message, he may take into account such things as the reason for the message, such as to persuade or inform. This involves encoding, which is the transferring of your mental thoughts for the message into words.
  2. The next step is selection of the channel of communication. Channels include speaking, writing, video transmission, audio transmission, electronic transmission through an email, text or instant message, or even non-verbal communication through body language and signals.
  3. The next stage of the communication is when the receiver of the message processes the information into understanding, called decoding. For example, you decode a written message by interpreting the meanings of the symbols (letters and punctuation), including their arrangement (sentence and paragraph structure), on a printed page.
  4. An optional step in the process is feedback, which is a message sent from the receiver to the sender in response to the original message.

Noise is basically anything that can interfere with the transmission and interpretation of the message from its sender to the receiver. Noise is a major concern in interpersonal communication. These are different types of noise:

  • Physical noise is the type with which you are most familiar; it is loud or distracting sound.
  • Semantic noise occurs due to confusion caused by ambiguity in words and sentence structure.
  • Physiological noise occurs when a bodily function distracts you, such as a headache or blurry vision due to tears.

Types of Organizational Communication

There are many different types of communication that occur within an organization, including communication between members and communication between the organization and the outside environment. Here, we are going to focus on two types of internal interpersonal communication processes.

  1. Superior and subordinate communication is the interaction between upper-level employees and lower-level employees. This is a crucial aspect of internal organizational interpersonal communication. Research has indicated a link between productivity and profitability and effective supervisory communication. One model of superior-subordinate communication is the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory. This theory argues that superiors create and maintain different levels of communication with their subordinates. If you are involved in an in-group exchange with your supervisor, you are in a high-quality communication relationship with high levels of information exchange, mutual support, a degree of informal influence, trust, some negotiating room and input into decision-making. On the other hand, if you are in an out-group exchange, then you are in a low-quality communication relationship, which is characterized as being formally supervised and being subject to less support and trust from your supervisor.
  2. Peer communication is interaction between employees who are on the same level, such as between two sales representatives. Peer communication is a part of everyday organizational life. You communicate with your peers for several reasons. One reason is because it is necessary to perform your job. For example, you need to communicate with your teammates to complete a project. You also communicate with your peers to provide or receive social support and provide advice. You may also communicate to help each other solve organizational problems facing you and your peers, such as meeting a deadline with the supervisor out of the office. You should note that peer communication can be a problem if peers decide to withhold information for personal reasons, such as competition or animosity.

Lesson Summary

Interpersonal communication involves the transmission of a message between two or more people. It is a process consisting of the sender, the message, a channel of communication, the receiver and any feedback. Noise is anything that can adversely affect the transmission or interpretation of a message. Two important types of interpersonal communications in the workplace include superior-subordinate communication and peer communication.

Learning Outcomes

Study this lesson, then use what you’ve learned about interpersonal workplace communications to:

  • Write a complete definition of interpersonal communication
  • List and describe the components of interpersonal communication
  • Recognize the different types of noise and highlight their effect on communication
  • Discuss the kinds of communication that exist in the workplace