How do self-concept and perception impact interpersonal communication?

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meg526 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Self-concept and perception can influence interpersonal communication in many ways. Sociologist Charles Cooley believed that all interpersonal interactions, and the reflections on these interactions, were responsible for one's self-concept. Cooley called this theory the looking-glass self.

An example of the looking-glass self in action would be a first date. Jamie dresses up for the date and brushes up on current events to be able to make conversation. Jo puts little thought into appearance and thinks of an excuse to leave early if the date is not going well. During the date (interpersonal communication), Jamie's conversation starters fall flat and Jo's wardrobe is out of place in the nice restaurant. The date ends, and both parties go home.

Jamie may reflect on the date and think it went poorly. Jamie tries to recall what the text messages said prior to the date to make Jo wear inappropriate clothing. Jamie decides that Jo's lack of interest in conversation meant that Jamie sounded like a know-it-all. Jamie's self-concept suffers as a result and, upon reflection, she resolves to let Jo choose the place to meet if they go out again.

Jo may reflect on the date and think that they both had a great time. Jamie was clearly trying to impress, and was trying to put Jo at ease by carrying the conversation. Jo also decides that Jamie's well-groomed appearance was because Jamie came directly from work and didn't have time to change. Jo's self-concept is bolstered as a result, and he decides to call Jamie for another date.