Interpersonal communication is a process of sharing ideas and feelings between individuals. Interpersonal communication skills can be improved through appropriate knowledge, practice, feedback and reflection. Understanding interpersonal communication is essential in maintaining healthy relationships. It is important in our family life, too, as it affects nearly every aspect of our existence.
Culture refers to the customs, language, arts, common dietary habits and attire of a particular region. It also includes the learnt values, beliefs and behaviours common to a group of individuals. Culture and communication are inseparable. This means that culture can be a strong barrier to interpersonal communication between people of different cultures. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds often carry an attitude that their own culture is superior to that of others. This attitude hampers interpersonal communication between two individuals or groups from different cultural backgrounds. Individuals who are ethnocentric in nature often are under the impression that anyone who does not belong to their group is either strange or inferior. This perception also prevents healthy social and political communication between two groups.
Power is the ability to influence others and have strong self-control under complex circumstances. All interpersonal communication or interactions reflect some form of power, which may be obvious or hidden. Obvious power refers to people who occupy a higher position in business or government and have to communicate with their employees or subjects. People in power positions may exert their power on individuals who are not equally competent, and this inequality could act as a barrier to effective communication.
Noise is one of the external factors that act as barriers to effective communication. Noise interferes with or disrupts communication by causing a divergence between the receiver and the communicator. Some examples of physical noise include running motors, horns, screeching brakes and children crying. In a classroom setting, if children create noise or murmur among themselves, this becomes a hindrance to communication, preventing the teacher's message from being received the way she intended.
Electronic mail, most commonly referred to as e-mail, is becoming the most popular medium for interpersonal communication. When exchanging e-mails, if a person makes grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, it can create a wrong impression on the receiver. People share messages or communicate via electronic media without visual or oral information. Lacking face-to-face contact with its sensory input, individuals start imagining other people based on their electronic communication style and pattern. This can become a technological hindrance that can hamper effective interpersonal communication.