Individual communication is a process of exchanging information between two people, in person, without the need for an interlocutor. It’s the most basic type of communication there is and, in fact, it’s the basis of virtually every other form of message transmission that we can find.
Despite being one of the simplest information exchange processes that we can find, individual communication can be studied from different points of view and is composed of several related phenomena. Thus, within it we can find verbal and non-verbal communication, and conscious and subconscious processes.
It is essential to understand individual communication processes, as this allows us to better understand all other situations in which we transmit messages to one or more interlocutors. Thus, the basis of processes such as group or collective communication remains the same as that of the individual.
Therefore, today we know a lot about individual communication processes, their components and their most important characteristics. In this article, we will study the most important aspects of this method of transmitting information.
Characteristics of individual communication
– Involves only one sender and one recipient
Most existing types of communication involve several people, and you can find some processes that occur in groups, others that go from a single sender to a large number of receivers and other combinations of all types. On the contrary, in individual communication, we find only one sender and one recipient.
This does not mean that there are no variations in the process. For example, in some cases, the sender is always the same and the recipient only hears the message. At other times, both take turns, leading to a reciprocal and more interactive communication process.
– It consists of several elements
The fact that individual communication involves only two people does not mean that it is a simple phenomenon. On the contrary, it includes a large number of different processes and components, which must be studied in depth to understand what happens when it appears.
Thus, in addition to the most basic components, such as the sender and receiver, we can study in depth all the other elements that make up this type of communication.
On the one hand, the message in individual communication is often very different from that conveyed in other contexts. When we’re alone with a person, it’s much easier to be honest or get carried away by emotions.
In this sense, the context shared by the sender and the recipient also has much more influence on individual communication processes than in other alternatives. Depending on the relationship they have, their behavior and the types of messages they can convey will change a lot.
For example, two people who know each other in depth will be able to make references that only they understand and will use much more phrases and body language to communicate. On the contrary, two strangers will have to be much more literal in order to convey information properly.
Not all individual communication processes work in the same way. There are many variables that can influence the exchange of information between two people, such as the type of relationship they have, the hierarchy of each of them, their preferred communication style or the common context they share.
Individual communication is one of the most studied classes in this field, so we can find many theories about it. Next, we will see what are the most common types of individual communication that exist.
– Verbal vs. non-verbal
When we think of a communication process, we usually imagine two or more people talking. However, not all information exchanges need to be done explicitly, using spoken language. Other elements, such as proxemics or gestures, can also be considered forms of communication.
Experts in this field consider that the information transmitted verbally represents a very small percentage of everything we exchange in a face-to-face conversation. Body language, tone of voice, gestures and other similar elements make up around 80% of all our messages.
– Conscious vs. unconscious
In the same way that we do not always have to transmit information in a spoken way, not in all contexts in which communication occurs does it appear consciously. In fact, on many occasions we send messages to other people without realizing it.
Experts believe that it is not possible for two people to be in the same room without communicating in some way. When we are not consciously exchanging messages, our brains are constantly processing data, which is considered a type of subconscious communication.
– Reciprocal vs. unilateral
In some individual communication scenarios, one of the participants is responsible for continuously transmitting information, so the sender and receiver roles are always fixed and not reversed. In others, on the contrary, roles are switched from time to time, depending on who is assuming the role of issuer.
This is the main difference between reciprocal and individual one-way communication. Both types can appear in completely different contexts and have quite different characteristics.
– Virtual vs. pres ential
The last classification to appear is the one that divides individual communication processes depending on whether they occur in person or through communication technologies. With the advent of social media and instant messaging services, new ways of conveying information one by one have emerged.
Finally, we will look at several examples of situations in which individual communication occurs.
– A boss talking to his employee to congratulate him on his work.
– A woman telling her partner how much she appreciates him.
– Two friends talking on the phone to tell each other about the news that came into their lives.