Human beings tend to apply certain strategies that help them in interpreting other peoples behaviors. Interpersonal communication evaluates the relationship of individuals among one another in different setups. People perceive others differently depending on someones experiences and situations at hand. In this regard, people use different strategies to get to know one another. I have had different interactions with people where I found myself interpret their behaviors and form impressions on them. My experience as a students leader exposed me to different individuals. I came to realize that the perceptions I had about different people and the way I used to interpret their behaviors were not always right.
This part discusses various theories portraying the strategies we apply to form impressions on others and interpret their behaviors. In most cases, the perceptions we have of people are misleading. Attribution theory provides that people tend to ascribe the motives and causes of other persons behaviors. I remember a day I held a meeting to discuss the students affairs. In attendance was a police head that was uninvited. I observed that he was always on the phone and was not even concentrating on what was going on. He could at times move out of the room and come back, and I could not understand what was going on. I ascribed his behavior in the room to a possible threat, and I was not comfortable running the meeting until I talked to him. I was convinced that something was wrong. It is after I approached him that he explained to me that he had just joined our campus as a student, but due to his schedule he had to attend the meeting in full uniform and that he was just assigning duties to his juniors. Casual attribution theory provides how people behave. Sometimes you feel threatened and assume it is because of the environment you are in and disregard the possibility that you could actually be the problem. People may react to situations depending on stimulus, circumstances or their personality. Standpoint theory provides how we tend to view the world differently depending on your influence in the society. For instance, a person in power may not understand the perception he attracts in the society. The viewpoint of a powerful person in a situation is different from his subjects. Also, trust is earned through ones behaviors. A couple may disagree based on perception. Friendship is based on trust. If a friend fails to earn the trust of the other the consequence is negative perception. A cheating partner will be perceived as a liar even if he is telling the truth. Implicit personality theory provides that we tend to assume why people behave in a certain way. We form biased assumptions about others and as a result, miss out to understand them and form wrong impressions. Uncertainty reduction theory provides that the main reason as to why we communicate is to reduce uncertainty. In most case, we want to know people and form perception of them to predict their behaviors in the future. This is a strategy that aims at being comfortable with what we see and experience. The assumptions we make about other peoples behaviors are based on a construct we develop. Such could be a positive or a negative attitude. For instance; you may perceive another person as being rude, kind, friendly or unfriendly based on what you see or experience. However, the impression you make could be wrong.
Intercultural communication theory provides that people may interpret behavior based on cultural elements. Culture is what guides people in a certain community and may include materials, social institutions, belief system, aesthetic and language. For instance, the interpretation I made about the presence of the police boss in our meeting was based on the fact that culturally, a police head was not a member of the students community and so something else was bound to happen, little did I know I was wrong. Interpersonal communication is about knowing a person. It may happen through observing, communicating, personal perceptions or experiences.
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