Interpersonal communication is essentially the exchange of communication between one person(s) and another. Like any other form of communication, interpersonal communication involves the sender of the message and the recipient of the message. The message can only be passed correctly if both the sender and the recipient pass it correctly and understand each other. I work for a voluntary group at the University. This group aims at reaching out to the less fortunate both in the institution and the society generally. We do not offer financial help as such but instead focus on the abilities of the people we interact with and give them the necessary counsel and advice they need. In this way, we give them ideas on how they can actually help themselves out financially. This organization involves a lot of interaction, both within ourselves as the members of the organization and also between us and the people we interact with. As such there is a lot of interpersonal communication that goes on. The group consists of a total of ten members, and as they say, we are like our fingers; we come in different sizes and lengths, not literally but in terms of age, personalities, gender, culture, spiritual orientation and physical abilities and disabilities. This whole structure of diversity makes communication, particularly interpersonal communication, an issue worth debate. This is because the way we choose to communicate within ourselves and others is bound to affect our service delivery either positively or negatively. The following part of the paper will critically analyze each of these factors mentioned above that makes us diverse in our communication, interpersonal communication.CITATION Joh12 p 56 l 1033 (Johnson, 2012, p. 56)Age
The voluntary group I work for is extremely diversified when it comes to age, with members from the extreme sides of the age spectrum. The oldest member in the group is aged forty seven, while the youngest is seventeen. Most of the members, about seventy percent, are aged between seventeen and twenty five. The main reason behind this is the fact that the organization requires the participation of both the old and young. For instance, the young and vibrant group, which forms the majority of the group, is required to move up and down and interact with the people we look forward to offering our help to. The older group is mostly involved ion critically analyzing our case studies and give direction on the best way forward. It is therefore not easy to hold a conversation between these two groups that are different in terms of age. For instance, young people will always base their ideas on what social media says. They will go with current trends since that are what they are familiar with and immediately make a decision. The older group will look at trends on a more historical point of view and analyze historical events in relation to the topic of discussion before coming up with a remedy. The young members, moreover, communicate with a lot of slang because as much as this organization is based on official business, it is also a social and interactive group as well. This way, the message at times is not passed effectively from one person(s) to another. The consequence of this communication gap is that the goals of the organizations are not at all times met and therefore efficiency is not achieved as well.CITATION Ric01 p 76 l 1033 (Pircadi, 2001, p. 76)Perceived Emotions, Relationships and Personality
Our personalities define us. We have different personalities just as we are different in other aspects of our lives. The personality of a person is one thing that psychologists have proved beyond reasonable doubt that is very difficult to change. The personalities of a person will most of the time dictate the way in which they communicate. Some people are introverts and as such they tend to keep to themselves. They listen more than they speak. They think more and learn more from their surrounding and the people around them. Others are outspoken and will speak more. They express themselves through speech. The relationship between or among people also influences communication. CITATION Joh12 l 1033 (Johnson, 2012)This I have witnessed in my voluntary work group. People tend to open up to those they are close with and give less details to the people they are not that close to. One’s family tends to know them better because of the blood relationship that exists as compared to outsiders. Finally, people perceive and express their emotions very differently. Jerry, a member of my voluntary group tends to hide his low moments in smiles. It is therefore not easy to tell what he is going through. I, on the other hand will always show it. I have no way to hide and it is communicated through my emotions. The way we react to how we feel will determine the way we communicate. There are those of us like Jerry who will drown our sorrows in smiles and those like me who will communicate it just as it is. It is therefore very clear that we communicate our emotions very differently and this goes way back to our personalities.CITATION Joh02 p 94 l 1033 (Gray, 2002, p. 94)Spiritual Orientation
The world is composed of people with very diverse spiritual backgrounds. Spiritual background forms the foundation of the life of a person. More often than not, the behavior of a person is well explained by their religious beliefs. This is also the case with communication most of the time. Spiritual diversity will create diversity in speech and in communication generally. For instance, Moslems do not shake hands as a sign of greeting. Their greetings are always in form of speech. This is unlike other religions where people are allowed to shake hands casually and even hug. People from strong religious backgrounds and those with high faith are also very cautious with their speech. They tend to taste their words before they spit them out, that is, they are sensitive in their speech so as not to hurt others. The voluntary group that I work with, or rather that I work for has all Christians but one Moslem, Rahima Nassir. She, in one way or another, communicates in a different way from the rest. Most of the time, she refers to the Allah, who is the Supreme Being according to her religion. This happens especially in cases where she tries to sound optimistic and give a hopeless situation hope. The voluntary group involves a lot of interaction and therefore we have to be warm as we interact with others. This is at times not very easy to achieve owing to the fact that some religious beliefs have certain strains. Rahima is not the only one that faces such challenges. Even along the Christian front, there are various denominations which uphold different values. These values make the approach to various situations very differently. CITATION Gai10 p 104 l 1033 (Forey, 2010, p. 104)Gender
The gender of a person also affects communication, particularly interpersonal communication. The female species has a different way of passing a message from the male species. One thing I love the most about my voluntary group is that we are balanced when it comes to gender. Out of a group of ten, we have five ladies and five gentlemen. This gives a ratio of one to one. However, this gender difference can at timers be a major setback in terms of communication. The Ladies, for instance would like to be addressed in a more soft way even when it comes to simple aspects such as greetings. Important to note is that communication does not involve only speech, there is verbal and non-verbal communication, all of which should be considered. Throughout the time that I spend with members of my organization, I have observed that men and women have very different modes and methods of communication. Most of the time, male members are very radical in their speech as well as their illustrations. Ladies have a different approach. They, more often than not, are very soft both in their speech and illustrations. It is for this reason that they (ladies) are extremely cautious in their speech. I also noted that the men speak fewer words as compared to the ladies. Ladies speak more, except in a few instances.CITATION Mar09 p 85 l 1033 (Gufey, 2009, p. 85)Person with Disability
They say disability is not inability. However, this part of the paper will view disability as a hindrance to communication to an extent. People with disabilities, physical disabilities for that matter, face a lot of challenges when it comes to passing a message effectively. This bottleneck is faced by not only the sender of the message but the recipient as well. The voluntary group that I work for or rather the members of the group that I work with experiences such challenges. In the group, there are two people with physical disabilities. Jerry is a deaf while Geoffrey is visually impaired. Of the two, I think Geoffrey has the most difficult time when it comes to communication. For one reason or the other, Geoffrey happened to be the secretary of the organization at some point in time. He therefore took minutes during meetings and did all the secretarial work. This position, I can say he deserved. Geoffrey is very brilliant besides being very diligent in his work. The main challenge that group faced was the translation of the brail recorded minutes. No one in the group understood brail language apart from Geoffrey himself. He was the only one that could read and understand the minutes. Consequently, he had to step down as secretary after a fortnight of good leadership. Jerry on the other hand, cannot communicate easily and effectively. As a matter of facts, he is most of the time misunderstood and the group experiences a lot of instances with miscommunication. Sign language is not that easy to understand. This impacts negatively on the communication in the organization. Both Jerry and the rest of the members have a hard time in communicating. The importance of both Geoffrey and Jerry in the group can never be underestimated but then at times the challenges effective communication a tall order.CITATION Per08 p 119 l 1033 (Mcintosh, 2008, p. 119)Culture
Culture is a very important aspect that should be put into consideration when it comes to effective communication. The culture of a member or members of a group determines how the message is conveyed and it also determines how the message is perceived. Culture affects communication to a very great extent simply because the culture of a person will dictate their style of communication. This means that the more diverse the cultures are, the more diverse their styles of communication. Though to a small extent, there is cultural diversity in our voluntary group. In essence we have people from diverse cultural group. For matters of convenience, I will describe the cultural diversity as high culture and low culture, not that any culture is more superior to another, but for explanatory purposes. For instance, Evelyn, the group’s organizing secretary, is from the high culture. This category mainly focuses their communication on arts and by arts I mean it is more of music, drama et cetera. This category will therefore involve people with a very high esteem since for one to be able to express themselves through arts; they have to be extremely bold, just typical of Evelyn. On the contrary, the low culture category involves large audiences. A good illustration of how culture can affect communication is that in some cultures for instance, it is very vital to maintain eye contact during communication while in others; eye contact can be seen as offensive and unacceptable. Barry, the chairman of our voluntary group and Miley, our secretary are most of the time caught up in such a situation due to their religious differences.CITATION Jos14 p 92 l 1033 (Chesobro, 2014, p. 92)Conclusion and Recommendations
With over seven billion people in the world, it is expected that people will differ in relation to various aspects of life. Even people from the same family, people with the same cultures, same religious beliefs and people from the same age group will at one point or the other differ. Communication, on the other is also very important. Each and everything we do revolves around communication. No man is an island. This simply means we have to live harmoniously with each other. For this reason, communication is very important. This paper has not focused on intrapersonal communication but interpersonal communication since this is the way we interact with each other in our work places. Without effective interpersonal communication at our work places, it almost difficult to make any social and economic progress. However, I have learnt from my work experiences at my voluntary group that diversities will always be there, they are there to stay. These are some aspects of life that we should accept them just in the way they come. We can never be the same. It is therefore very important to understand and embrace each of our diversities, placing our differences aside. From my own case study it is clear that communication is very important. It is equally clear that challenges must arise due to the diversities in various life aspects. Therefore, from my own experience, I would recommend that we respect the fact that we are not and can never be the same but try as well to burn any bridges that might exist as a result of the differences amongst us. We are one and shall always be one, despite our differences. Let us let communication to make us and not break us.
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