COM 200 Week 3 Assignment – Final Paper Draft

Final Paper Draft

COM200: Interpersonal Communication

Dear John and Jane,

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. As a gesture of my happiness and my hope for a long and healthy marriage for you both, I have written you a letter of advice. My intent is that you carefully consider the advice I have written to you about how to strengthen your marriage via effective communication. You see, communication is a crucial aspect of everyday life. Bevan and Sole (2014) describe communication as “a process where two or more individuals strive to create shared meaning using verbal and nonverbal messages in a variety of contexts” (sec. 1.1). However, communication is so much more than that. Communication influences, and is influenced by, a variety of factors. You can learn to be an effective and competent communicator by understanding the basic principles of communication, barriers to communication, communication in relation to yourself, the impact of gender and culture on communication, and appropriate levels of self-disclosure.

When it comes to maintaining healthy relationships, effective communication is key. To become a competent and effective communicator, you must first understand the basic principles of communication. The first basic principle of communication to remember is to respect yourself as well as others. It is important to work towards a resolution that everyone is happy with, not just one of the individuals (Bevan & Sole, 2014). To achieve effective communication, you must acknowledge that each person has a valuable contribution to the communication process and deserves to be heard and respected. Applying this basic principle of mutual respect will lay the foundation for the other basic principles, such as the principle of acknowledging that your view of a situation is only of many views. Effective communication requires the understanding that others may see things differently than you, so it is vital to be open and accepting of alternative views. According to Bevan and Sole (2014), trying to see things from another’s perspective allows us to better understand that person and their point of view, thus enhancing communication. Accepting another’s views does not mean that one person is right, and one is wrong. It means that you understand yours is not the only way, and you are learning from each other and working together to create a shared meaning.

It is essential to apply not only these, but all the basic principles of communication. Implementing the basic principles will allow you to maintain, and even improve, your marriage. Applying the basic principles will also help you overcome barriers to communication. A barrier is something that interferes with the communication, thus preventing the participants from reaching a shared meaning. One possible barrier is misperceptions. Bevan and Sole (2014) describe that misperceptions can happen when there is noise present during communication or the receiver does not interpret the message the way the sender intended, consequently causing conflict. These misperceptions can be damaging to a relationship. It is vital to take responsibility for your communication to ensure as the sender, that the message was received clearly and accurately, and as a receiver, to ask questions if you are unsure what the sender intended. Another potential barrier is long-distance relationships. As Bevan and Sole (2014, sec. 1.3) cite, in long-distance relationships “communication opportunities are restricted (in the view of the individuals involved) because of geographic parameters and the individuals within the relationship have expectations of a continued close connection” (Stafford, 2005, pg. 7). At some point in your marriage, you may experience a situation where one of you must travel for a given reason, such as for work. It is important to understand that although it may seem like it, your communication opportunities are not restricted due to CMC. Computer mediated communication can only be a barrier if you allow it to be. However, if you remember to implement the basic principles of communication, CMC can enhance your communication competence, and therefore can strengthen your marriage.

To allow you to better understand the impact of these basic principles and potential barriers, I have provided an example of a situation where the aforementioned barriers and basic principles arose. Last year for my son’s birthday, his father (Alex) and I were planning a party for him. Alex had just moved and now lived an hour away. The day before the party, I called his father to go over a few details. When Alex received my call, he was driving home and was speaking to me handsfree via Bluetooth. Before we hung up, I had asked him if he could pick up our son’s cake from the bakery on his way because I had to go to the party store to get the balloons blown up and then head straight to the location to sign in and start setting up. I was unaware that Alex was having issues on his end of the phone with hearing a lot of static and me cutting out. He only heard me say the words “tomorrow… cake… balloons… heading straight…. location,” so he thought I was letting him know I was picking up the cake and balloons before I met him at the party site. The day of the party, I sent him a text message reminding him that he better not forget the cake. When he got to the party (a little late), we argued because he felt I should have let him know sooner that I needed him to get the cake so he could have left earlier to make it to the party on time and because he felt my text was rude. I was upset that he was late and that he was angry over me asking him one favor, and the fact that I had mentioned it in the call the day before and just sent the text that morning to be nice and helpful. Our son got upset over hearing us arguing and thinking he wasn’t going to have cake.

Alex and I were experiencing miscommunication due to the barrier of long-distance relationship and misperceptions. Due to our long-distance relationship, we were forced to communicate via CMC. Had we implemented the basic principles of communication and shown mutual respect, taken responsibility for our communication, and acknowledging that our views are one of many, we could have used CMC to enhance our communication rather than having it be a barrier. Instead, the CMC did become a barrier through semantic and psychological noise. As described by Bevan and Sole (2014), semantic noise “occurs when messages are misunderstood or misinterpreted or when interference arises because of the language used by one or more of the communication participants” (sec. 1.2). The semantic noise occurred when Alex misunderstood what I was saying on the phone. Psychological noise is when cognition or mental states interfere with the communicators creating a shared meaning (Bevan & Sole, 2014). Psychological noise occurred when Alex got angry over my reminder text because he felt it was rude, and then again at the party when we were arguing due to each of us being upset with the other because we felt like the other was being inconsiderate. Misperception was also a barrier in our communication that day. We experienced misperceptions through technical and semantic noise. Semantic noise happened again at the party when we were discussing the cake and the messages, and we both misunderstood what the other was saying and why they were upset. Bevan and Sole (2014) define technical noise as any noise that interferes with signal transmission, such as telephone static. Technical noise occurred during our phone call when Alex experienced static and loss of sound.

To avoid this barrier, I could have considered that even though I was in a building with good reception and heard him fine, that he was on the road and using a hands-free device to speak and may not have heard me as clearly. Had we implemented the basic principles I discussed, I could have sent him a text message immediately after the call, politely asking my favor in case he hadn’t heard me correctly, or he could have sent me a message himself, or stopped to call me back when he was in a better reception area, to have me repeat what I had said to be sure he understood everything correctly. Practicing the principle of respect would have encouraged us to stay calm and listen to the others explanation. Acknowledging there are other views besides our own, would have allowed us to understand that we each heard the conversation differently and we misinterpreted the interaction. Taking responsibility for our communication would have prompted us to explain what we each heard and what we each said, and calmly worked out a resolution to avoid the situation in the future. Through my example, you can see how easily barriers in communication arise and prevent you from creating a shared meaning; but you can also see how easily you can overcome them when you implement the basic principles of communication and become a competent communicator.

You see, Jane and John, there were barriers in our communication, and they affected not only the relationship and communication between Alex and I, but also our son as well. Without effective communication, barriers are not easily overcome or avoided. As you see from my example, sometimes the consequences of miscommunication and barriers can affect not only you, but the others around you as well. However, there are some strategies you can utilize to overcome these barriers. The first strategy, and the most obvious and effective strategy, is to remember to implement the basic principles of communication. Applying the basic principles will increase your ability to avoid barriers but will also help you to more easily overcome them when they do happen. Additionally, when a barrier does occur, there are some other devices you can implement to overcome it.

One strategy is to anticipate and be prepared for noise. Noise interferes with communication transmission, and there are four different types. Bevan and Sole (2014), state “Though we cannot fully eliminate noise from our interactions with others, knowing that noise can affect our communication can help us anticipate and deal with it” (sec. 1.2). So, Jane and John, remember that being aware of the types of noise and preparing for them will help to deal with those noises, allowing you to overcome noise barriers and misperceptions. Another strategy is to make CMC a communication enhancer, rather than a barrier. According to the video Digital communication skills: Dos and don’ts (2015), M.E. Yancosek Gamble says the absence of tone and facial expressions when using technology and text could increase miscommunication. However, if we focus on providing clarity and precision in our messages, we can form improved digital communications. Bevan and Sole (2014) believe that with the lack of nonverbal cues in CMC, we are forced to focus on the content of the message, which could be advantageous for communication. My language was not very proper and without tone to help convey my intent, it came across as rude. I also lacked clarity in my language. He had not heard me on the phone, so he was confused at my short and rude message, so my words came across in a negative way I did not intend. However, if you proofread your messages and make sure you focus on clarity and precision in your language, you can avoid the barrier that Alex and I faced due to the misunderstanding of my text message. Just as increasing your awareness of barriers can help you to become a more effective communicator; understanding communication as it pertains to yourself can also build your communication competence, thus improving your relationship.

Did you know that your perception of yourself can significantly impact your communication, and consequently your relationships? Self-concept is the view or belief that we have of ourselves, based on our unique qualities. Our self-concept is malleable and is learned through intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. “You construct this sense of self through communication with yourself and with others- by what you tell yourself and what others tell you about yourself” (Bevan & Sole, 2014, sec. 2.1). Our interpersonal communication helps create our self-concept. When we think about and process the responses we get from our interpersonal communication, we are engaging in intrapersonal communication. Self-image is the general idea that we have of ourselves, based on all aspects of ourselves such as personality, looks, abilities, etc. Our self-image is formed by what others tell us about ourselves (interpersonal communication) and what we think about ourselves (intrapersonal communication). According to Bevan & Sole (2014), our self-image is not permanent and can be changed with effort and altering our thoughts of ourselves and what we choose to believe from others. Self-esteem is our overall feelings about ourselves as a person, based on our confidence, sense of worth, and approval of ourselves. As stated by Bevan & Sole (2014), “self-esteem can influence interpersonal communication” (sec. 2.1). If our self-esteem is too high, it can cause us to be too self-centered. If our self-esteem is too low, it can cause us to be too needy and seek constant reassurance. Our self-esteem also influences how we communicate intrapersonally. If we have low self-esteem, then our intrapersonal communication is negative; if our self-esteem is high, we have positive intrapersonal communication.

Believe it or not, communication is related to psychology. Bevan and Sole (2014) discussed that a large amount of research in the psychology and communication fields has found that the same way your interpersonal communication impacts your view of yourself, your intrapersonal communication impacts your capacity to form constructive relationships with other people. Communication affects your psyche, which in turn, affects your communication.

In other words, others’ perceptions of you influences the way you view yourself, and your perception of yourself influences the way you communicate with others. You can think of it like a big circle. When you communicate with others, you receive information about how they view you. Then, through intrapersonal communication, you process those perceptions that others have about you and use that information to determine how you view yourself. This image you have of yourself then influences how you communicate in future interactions.

This matters generally because it is important to understand the impact that communication can have. Most people only think that miscommunication can have consequences, but effective communication can too if the message is negative. This is an important concept for you both to remember. To help keep your marriage strong and healthy, remember to stay positive and be considerate. Afterall, your communication with your spouse will affect their psyche, which will then affect their communication with you, ultimately affecting your psyche as well. This concept is also important to remember because it can also affect self-disclosure.

Self-disclosure plays a significant role in becoming an effective communicator, especially when you incorporate emotional intelligence. Bevan and Sole (2014) describe self-disclosure as “the intentional act of sharing private and personal aspects of you with other people” (sec. 7.4). To build a relationship with someone, you must share information about yourself. However, if you remember, these interactions are how others form their perceptions of you and influence their communication with you, thus influencing your communication. This is where understanding how to differentiate and emotional intelligence come to play.

When you differentiate, you are recognizing and deciding what is suitable to disclose. According to Bevan and Sole (2014), to be appropriate, you should try to abide by guidelines, and you should determine what is appropriate by considering the context. You should consider factors such as when and where you are, the content you are sharing, and with whom you are sharing. For example, you might not want to brag about your recent promotion at work to a new friend or acquaintance who just lost their job. In contrast, when you are trying to build a foundation for a strong healthy relationship (such as for your upcoming marriage), it would be a good idea to disclose your dreams and goals for life.

In relationships, it is important for couples to share information with each other without fear or hesitation. Emotional intelligence can help couples to be able to do this. Emotional intelligence is defined by Salovey and Mayer (1990) as “the ability to monitor, regulate, and discriminate among your own and your partner’s feelings to guide your thoughts and actions” (as cited by Bevan & Sole, 2014, sec. 8.3). By establishing adequate emotional intelligence, you give your spouse a sense of comfort knowing that they can self-disclose and be met with respect and empathy rather than judgement or negativity. According to Jorgensen and Gaudy (1980), self-disclosing couples are thought to have a stronger relationship foundation that elevates relationship satisfaction for both partners and nurtures successful problem-solving techniques, which ultimately provides a more secure and fulfilled relationship. So, if you develop a good emotional intelligence, you will create an environment that encourages your spouse to self-disclose, thus creating a more fulfilled marriage. Emotional intelligence is also extremely beneficial in effective communication.

Part of being an effective communicator is understanding all the various factors that impact communication, such as gender and culture. According to Bevan and Sole (2014), culture is a set of principles, customs, ideals and patterns of behavior that have been transferred through generations via communication. Everyone has a different culture and your culture influences who you are. Part of your culture comes from your experiences and what you have been taught, which helps shape how you think and how you form your principles and beliefs. Another part of your culture derives from where you are from, your language, and the way you speak. Your culture affects how you communicate. For example, in some cultures it is considered rude and disrespectful to burp at the dinner table; while in other cultures, it is encouraged and taken as a compliment because it communicates that you enjoyed your meal and are full. Your culture also influences nonverbal communication. For instance, in some cultures it is customary to hug or kiss the cheeks of a person when you initiate communication with them and again when you end your conversation. However, in other cultures, it could be conceived as an invasion of personal space and may even be construed as sexual harassment if you did not ask them if it was okay to do so first.

Another way culture influences your communication is through gender. Most people confuse gender orientation with biological sex, but they are two separate things. Biological sex is determined at birth based on anatomy; whereas gender orientation refers to the gender that a person identifies with psychologically and can be influenced by culture, society, and other factors (Bevan & Sole, 2014). Your gender orientation influences how you communicate. According to Hirokawa, Yagi, and Miyata (2004), studies showed that masculine respondents prefer a more commanding and decisive communication style, while feminine respondents prefer a more open and sensitive communication style. It is important to note that your gender orientation doesn’t just influence your communication, but communication can influence your gender orientation too. For example, a friend of mine is masculine gender-oriented, even though she is a female. She was raised by only her father and had two older brothers. Her father communicated with her the same way he did her brothers. She was taught to be strong and assertive and that being too sensitive or emotional was a sign of weakness. She was encouraged to be rough and tough and discouraged from being “too girly.” Her interpersonal communication with her father and brothers influenced her gender-orientation.

Understanding culture and gender will help you to build a stronger marital foundation. Paying attention to an individual’s culture and gender allows you to consider the differences in their communication styles. It can also help you to more easily identify nonverbal communication cues. The ability to recognize your spouse’s communication style and detect their nonverbal communication cues will make you more effective communicators.

In conclusion, my friends, the key to a happy and successful marriage is effective communication! To be effective communicators, you must first understand the basic principles of communication. Sometimes barriers can occur that lead to miscommunication. Applying the basic principles of communication will help you to decrease the likeliness of communication barriers. When you do encounter communication barriers, there are strategies that you can implement to overcome them. Communication intertwines with psychology because communication influences your self-image, self-concept, and self-esteem. Likewise, your sense of self also influences your communication. Self-disclosure can significantly improve your relationship if you understand the concept of appropriateness. Developing a good emotional intelligence will encourage your spouse to self-disclose and will increase the effectiveness of your communication. Culture and gender influence your communication and vice versa. Acknowledging this will allow you to be more competent communicators. I hope you have thoroughly read and understood my advice, as these concepts will help you to build a successful and fulfilled marriage. I wish you both the best of luck on your journey together.

Sincerely, Your friend Ashley


Bevan, J. L., & Sole, K. (2014). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

Caldwell, S. (Writer)., Dimoff, D. (Producer). (2015). Digital communication skills: Dos and don’ts. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Hirokawa, K., Yagi, A., & Miyata, Y. (2004). An Examination of Masculinity-Femininity Traits and Their Relationships to Communication Skills and Stress-Coping Skills. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 32(8), 731–740.

Stephen R. Jorgensen, & Janis C. Gaudy. (1980). Self-Disclosure and Satisfaction in Marriage: The Relation Examined. Family Relations, 29(3), 281.

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