Few courses students take in college can have as profound an impact on their lives as a course in interpersonal communication. Students embark on a course of study that will help them be a better friend, family member, lover, partner, employee, manager, coworker, and leader. Inter-Act does this by empowering students with specific skills that can be used to improve communication and relationships with other people. Each chapter explores concepts and valid theories that explain how interpersonal communication processes work to define, develop, and sustain relationships. Students will also be encouraged to practice, refine, and adopt specific interpersonal communication skills that can increase their interpersonal competence and ability to form healthy relationships. These skills cover the whole spectrum of human interaction, from developing messages to communicate their meaning, understanding the nonverbal behavior of others, listening effectively, managing conversations with strangers and acquaintances, providing support and comfort to others, maintaining privacy, dealing with conflict, and simply finding the most effective way to speak up for themselves. Students will also practice more complex skills to develop and sustain intimate relationships with family members, close friends, intimate partners, and people in their workplace. They will learn how cultural practices influence the effectiveness of communication. Finally they will study how practices in digital communication and social networking affect their relationships and learn techniques that can help them be effective as they “talk” with others via technology.
The skills-based approach that has made Inter-Act so popular over the years has been significantly expanded and reinforced with this new edition. Many of these changes are based on our desire to ground the book squarely within the message-centered approach to interpersonal communication. A message-centered approach allows us to explore how people form relationships and applies current theories and concepts as a framework for understanding interpersonal communication. The message-centered approach is consistent with the premise that there are basic universal message skills and guidelines that improve the likelihood of successful human interaction. Inter-Act has always taken a skills-based approach to teaching interpersonal communication. This edition includes the concepts of canned plans and communication scripts as a way of understanding the mental processes involved in message preparation. Understanding these processes enables students to incorporate new skills into their behavioral repertoire and improve relationships.