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Consider how ‘self concept’ and ‘self esteem’ influence interpersonal communication. Incorporate appropriate theory from the unit materials to support your discussion.
An individual’s perception of self has been studied under various labels. The concepts such as; self-concept, self-esteem and self-image has been widely discussed. One’s self-perception has a significant effect on their behaviour, evaluations, attitudes and cognitive processes.
This essay discusses how an individual’s perception of self-influence, communication apprehension, self-disclosure and interactions with others in the society influence communication.
Self-perception and communication apprehension
Self-esteem designates one’s assessment, while self-image is the perception that one has about him/herself at a given time. Self-concept is the perception that one hold in regard to him/her overtime. According to De Vito (2001) the way a person feels, primarily fixes his/her attitudes, mannerisms, evaluations and judgment.
Individuals develop and attempt to vindicate their self-esteem based on the interaction with others. An individual’s perception is largely determined by how others respond to him/her. People tend to adjust their self-perception overtime, so that they can fit into the category of what others think of them.
Self-concept is also influenced by interactions with intimate grouping such as the family, which dictate a lot about how one views him/herself (Johnson, 2000). Self-concept is influenced by the perception a person has in regard to his/her real self in comparison to their preferred potential self.
Low self-esteem is associated with a person’s emotional response to self-perception and social expectation. Hence if, an individual perceives that he/she does not match up to preferred potential self or society’s standard, it raises feelings of dissatisfaction, disappointment and sadness. This eventually translates to depression, lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem.
Communication apprehension is the fear associated with expected communication with other people. Individuals who have communication apprehension are known to have a slippery personality in social interactions. Communication is a vital part of life hence; it is an inevitable everyday occurrence.
However, for communication apprehensive individuals, the process of communication is often dreaded, and they avoid situations that may need communication. An individual’s extent of communication apprehension has shown to influence one’s decisions on choice of occupation, seating preferences, interactions in small group and even avoidance of competitive circumstances.
People with low self-esteem have high oral communication apprehension tendencies (De Vito, 2001). People with low esteem are fearful, anti-social, apprehensive, shy, tight-lipped and withdrawn. These individuals also have a higher tendency to worry and show withdrawal symptoms from other individuals.
These traits make them avoid instances of communication hence, missing opportunities that come with social interactions. Similarly, people with low self-esteem act in a manner that is less socially acceptable, they are viewed negatively by others. According to Johnson self-esteem can be improved and strengthened by positive self-talk, to encourage and boost one’s self-confidence (2000, p. 114).
Self-concept and communication
An individual’s self-concept is a combination of self-image and society expectation. The perception that one performs satisfactorily in the society significantly increases self-esteem. Low-self esteem is associated with the feeling of failure to meet social expectation.
Thus, how an individual identifies his/her role in the society dictate his/her level of communication apprehension. Social experiences help to shape a person self-perception, value and behaviour. Hence, it is critical that humans be interactive with the society as a feedback.
The affirmation from the society allows a person to develop his/her notion of self. According to Burgoon and Le Poire (1999, p. 115) social identity is fundamental to social interactions and influences how one communicates with others.
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Previous negative communication experiences may contribute to introvert tendencies and low esteem. People with low esteem may be apprehensive to communicate. Hence, they expect others to reject them or be critical of their efforts based on previous social interactions.
Self-disclosure in communication
Self-disclosure is what individuals reveal about themselves to others in communication. This includes; personal thoughts feelings and experiences. Self-disclosure usually progresses gradually as an individual acquires more trust from others, starting to share personal information less level to more intimate level.
The content a person discloses is dependent on the level of relationship. Individuals should consider the appropriateness of information they disclose depending on the time, place and the listener. It is important to restrict sharing sensitive information with intimate friends and trusted family members.
Also, it is crucial for people not to disclose much on the first encounter. Helping others disclose by being supportive and giving a listening ear is of mutual benefit to both parties.
Self-disclosure is indispensable for the psychological well-being of humans (Burgoon and Le Poire, 1999). People who have low self-esteem are less likely to disclose personal information to others, this leads to build up of stress, loneliness and emotional deprivation because of lack of emotional support.
List of References
Burgoon, JK & Le Poire, BA 1999, ‘Nonverbal cues and interpersonal judgements: participant and observer perceptions of intimacy, dominance, composure and formality’, Communication Monographs, vol. 66, pp. 105–124
De Vito, JA 2001, The Interpersonal Communication Book, 9th edn, Longman, New York
Johnson, DW 2000, Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-actualization, 8th edn, Allyn and Bacon, Boston