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Direct channels are obvious and easily recognized by the receiver. Both verbal and non-verbal information is completely controlled by the sender. Verbal channels rely on words, as in written or spoken communication. Non-verbal channels encompass facial expressions, controlled body movements (police present hand gestures to control traffic), color (red signals 'stop', green signals 'go'), and sound (warning sirens).
Indirect channels are usually recognized subconsciously by the receiver, and are not always under direct control of the sender. Body language, comprising most of the indirect channel, may inadvertently reveal one's true emotions, and thereby either unintentionally taint or bolster the believability of any intended verbal message. Subconscious reception and interpretation of these signals is often described with arbitrary terms like gut-feeling, hunch, or premonition. [[Eye contact] is also important.
Context refers to the conditions that precede or surround the communication. It consists of present or past events from which the meaning of the message is derived, though it may also, in the case of written communications, depend upon the statements preceding and following the quotation in question. Immediate surroundings may also color the perceived meaning of words; normally safe discourse may easily become contextually ambiguous or offensive in a restroom or shower hall. These influences do not constitute the message by themselves, but rather these extraneous nuances subtly change the message's effective meaning. Ultimately, context includes the entire world, but usually refers to salient factors such as the following:
Physical milieu: the season or weather, current physical location and environment
Situational milieu: classroom, military conflict, supermarket checkout
Cultural and linguistic backgrounds
Developmental progress (maturity) or emotional state
Complementary or contrasting roles: boss and employee; teacher and student; parent, child, and spouse; friend or enemy; partner or competitor
The context also includes the type of communication taking place which each have their own rules:
- Group discussion
- Interviewing eg job applicant interviews
- Parent child communication
- Scientific communication
The Johari window model focuses on the balance of interpersonal communication.
Interpersonal communication encompasses:
- Nonverbal communication
- Unconscious communication
- Initiating: Declaring one's conversational intent and inviting consent from one's prospective conversation partner
- Turn-taking: Managing the flow of information back and forth between partners in a conversation by alternating roles of speaker and listener
Having good interpersonal communication skills supports such processes as:
- Cross cultural communication
- Conflict resolution
- Intimate relationship
- Mentoring and co-mentoring, which is mentoring in groups
- Conflict Style Inventory
- Double bind interaction
- Intercultural competence
- Knowledge visualization
- Metacommunicative competence
- Neurolinguistic programming
- Public sphere
- Self disclosure
- Self reference
- Speech anxiety
- Social information processing theory
- The Seven Challenges: A Workbook and Reader About Communicating More Cooperatively -- by Dennis Rivers, MA, 100 pages, free PDF file, creative commons license.
- The Geometry of Dialogue: A visual way of understanding interpersonal communication and human development by Dennis Rivers, MA, 220 pages, free PDF file, creative commons license.
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