Communication is the exchange of information between two or more parties. Communication can happen in several ways such as through face-to-face where all the communicating parties are together in the same physical space at the same time. It can also use mediums like phone, text messages, emails and social media platforms that support video calls. These mediums are used to facilitate communication over a long distance. Interpersonal communication is a type of information exchange where both parties are affected by each other's information. It entails both aspects of communication which are verbal communication and non-verbal communication. To understand how a long-distance relationship affects the interpersonal relationship, it is important to understand how relationships work.
Origins of Relationships
A relationship is a way in which two or more people are connected. There are different types of relationships that are created by different factors and for different reasons. Some types of relationships include romantic relationships, interpersonal relationships and familial relationships among others (Ladd, 2007). Romantic relationships are relationships two people express emotions of attraction and love towards each other. People in a romantic relationship normally indulge in courtship to express the feelings that they are feeling towards each other. Interpersonal relationships are those close deep and strong connections between two or more people that may last from a short time to a long time (Ladd, 2007). The nature of such relationships vary and can be marriage, friendship, kinship relations or familial among others. There are relationships that are affected and governed by the laws of the state. Such relationships include marriages and business partnerships. Familial relationships are those that are created as a result of being associated with someone because of their family ties with them. Family members can have interpersonal relations relationship with each other but not romantic relationships except in a few cultures (Ladd, 2007).
Communication is important as all relationships start with communication except familial relationships. As such it is important to communicate openly so that the other parties derive the intended meaning of the communication (DeVito, 2019). People use words to exchange information. However, people also communicate no-verbally. Unlike verbal communication, non-verbal communication does not use words and in most cases is involuntary. Therefore it is easy for a person to communicate the correct the correct state his of mind without intending to do so. The distance between the communicating parties determines the amount of information that is received (DeVito, 2019). The further away two or more communicating people are far from each other the lower the amount of information that is received by the parties. This is because not all non-verbal cues can be read. Gestures and other visible non-verbal cues may be visible but other like eye contact may not be visible. If the communicating parties are very far from each other such that they cannot see or talk to each other then they have to introduce a medium of communication Mediums used over a long distance include telephones, postal letters, text messages, video calls, emails and social media among others (Solomon& Theiss, 2013).
Problems With Long-distance Communication
A medium of communication will help them to pass messages. However, the amount of messages and information that can be passed using different media is limited.There are different media of communication and each has its advantages and disadvantages. The popular method of communicating over long distances is the telephone. It enables the transfer of voice from one area to another using a network. The telephone enables two people to exchange information but only verbal communication can be done (Butler, 2014). In this type of communication, there are no non-verbal cues that are displayed and this limits the information as there is no way to know the subconscious communication that the other party is passing to us. Thus in a long-distance relationship, there is no way to know if a person is really telling the truth because there are no gestures or body language being displayed (Butler, 2014).
Another problem with long distance-relationship is also caused by the medium used for the exchange of communication. Textual media communicate the least amount of information about a person (Bruderer, 2015). For example, using a text message service that is offered by telephone companies to communicate with a person far away hides most of the information that is intended to be communicated. The way a text message service work is similar to a letter that was sent using the post office in the past. This type of communication gives the recipient enough time to think about how to respond (Bruderer, 2015). This hinders effective communication because a person takes time to think about how to respond. Text messages also do not tell if a reply is taking longer than it is supposed to because the recipient has not seen the message. Thus it is difficult to decipher what the real message would have been if the communication was face-to-face and not through a medium.(Bruderer, 2015).
Another way that long-distance affects interpersonal relationship is through attachment. Attachment theory suggests that for any two or more people who arein a relationship,security is created for each by the physical presence of the other person. If the other person departs the one left becomes sad. This is the same with a long-distance relationship because when a person departs from his partner then they both become insecure (Obegi & Berant, 2010). When people are living in close proximity then they can work any problems that they may have amicably. For example, if one of the people is anxious, the physical presence of his partners can help to provide security thus reduce or eliminate the anxiety. How if the people re far apart then the distance can cause loneliness and anxiety. These factors added to the distance of the relationship are what lead to miscommunication by both parties thus distorting information (Obegi & Berant, 2010). People in such relationships use things like photos and videos of the other people to compensate for their physical absence. This is not enough as they still experience negative feelings about the separation. The negative feelings that the people feel may cause negative feelings on themselves and as a result, the parties may stop participating in the relationship a phenomenon that is also known as fearful avoidance (Obegi & Berant, 2010).
Another way that long-distance relationship affects interpersonal communication is that when people who are in a relationship of whichever kindonly have to communicate through the phone. It is difficult for two people in different cities to synchronize their activities so that they are both free at the same time to speak with each other (Solomon & Theiss, 2013). Most of the time when one person calls the other person will be busy or maybe with his or her friends and as such may not give the attention that the other person expects. This may make the person who did not get the attention that he or she expected from the other to feel unimportant, irritated or angry. In romantic relationships, silences may be wrongly misunderstood to be the other person abandoning the relationship and doing something else. It may also cause the people in the relationship to seek the things that they get from the current relationship elsewhere. This may cause deception in the relationship and therefore affect interpersonal communication (Solomon & Theiss, 2013).
There is a way that people in a relationship communicate. For those in a romantic relationship, the style of communication even more defined. By communication style, this paper means such things as the length of conversations, the topics that are discussed and the manner in which people talk (DeVito, 2019). For example, people who see each other every have a lot of time to communicate with their partner that they may not even take seriously. However, for people in living far apart the way the communication is carried out matters a lot. If the lengths of conversation reduce then that may be a cause for concern for some people. The manner in which people talk over the phone may be different from the way they talk with a person face-to-face and this may make it difficult for some people to decipher the information that the other party is passing (DeVito, 2019).
Interpersonal communication over a long-distance is limited by the depth of conversation that people have. If a person, for example, asks about the day of his or her partner but then the partner does not want to talk about it, he or she may appear as deceitful or disinterested and this may further erode any useful interpersonal communication from being carried out by the people in the relationship (DeVito, 2019).
Interpersonal communication requires the communicating parties to have a relationship. This way, they can set their vocabulary, etiquette, mood and the types of information that they can exchange. If the relationship is over a long-distance then the amount of information that can be conveyed is severely affected by choice of medium of communication. It may be difficult to use the vocabulary used during face-to face communication. It also removes a lot of other things that are useful in interpersonal communication thus making it a hindrance to effective interpersonal relationship.
Butler, T. (2014). How to make your long-distance relationship work and flourish: A couple's guide to being apart and staying happy. Ocala, FL: Atlantic Pub.
Bruderer, V. (2015). Long Distance relationships: And their impact on everyday life. Wil: Kantonsschule Wil.
DeVito, J. A. (2019). The interpersonal communication book. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Ladd, P. D. (2007). Relationships and patterns of conflict resolution: A reference book for couples counselling. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Obegi, J. H., & Berant, E. (2010). Attachment theory and research in clinical work with adults. New York: Guilford Press.
Solomon, D., & Theiss, J. (2013). Interpersonal communication: Putting theory into practice. London: Routledge.
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