How can your perception processes affect your interpersonal communication?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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There are a several facts within perception that influence interpersonal communication. This is because perception is a combination of personality traits and learned behaviors that create habits, making correlations in our consciousness that concretes opinions of ourselves and others. 

These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • self-fulfilling prophecies- when we believe something either positive or negative about ourselves, we tend to act it out. If we are happy with ourselves, we effect admiration in others; if we feel that we are losers, we act that way in front of others and end up in the same interpersonal situations that we get into. We elicit reactions with our actions. 
  • attributive judgement- we always try to justify the actions of others to atone for their personalities, i.e., "she acts shy because she is _____", or "he is territorial because he is a man", etc. Allowing others to act in ways that may or may not be proper just because we want to find excuses for them affects communication. 
  • stereotypes- is like attributive judgement and self-fulfilling prophecy. It is the label that we put on people based on creed, race, and other factors. Imagine if you have an erroneously- founded bias against all elderly people, where you think that all elderly people are hard of hearing. As a result, you speak louder than necessary to all elderly people, making yourself look quite ignorant.
  • recency and primacy- a very popular topic in Law, recency refers to placing judgement upon something based on what you last heard of it. This bypasses primacy, which refers to what you FIRST learned about someone or something. Hence, if you have a relationship where you have met someone and you are OK with that person, the facts that you learn represent the primacy of it. If you are OK with those facts, you continue the relationship. However, if someone breaks the news and says that they JUST found out something about this person, this recent fact will affect the way that you look at this person if the facts are in any way different from what you had already learned. 
  • theory of implicit personality- this is a very interesting tendency where our brain's need for closure makes us assume that behavior A will lead to behavior B; that one behavior undeniably leads to another. This results in further assumptions that will lead us to judge someone even before they tell us their whole story. For instance, if you firmly believe that alcohol use leads to drug abuse, you will harshly judge someone if they simply say to you that they had a small glass of champagne at a wedding celebration. In the other party's eye you will look like a prude, while in your eyes, the other person looks is debauched. It is a definite bad influence in interpersonal communication.

In conclusion, interpersonal commo is driven directly by the constructs that have been built in our psyche by our upbringing, our personal experiences, and by the way our schools and parents raised us. This is why it is so important to bring all into consideration when studying human behavior. 

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