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What is the importance of personal and impersonal communication?

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As originally answered on Quora.com ... 

discussion between two 3d charactersThanks for an interesting question. I have always thought of communication in terms of being interpersonal or non-interpersonal i.e. to everybody but nobody specific, not in terms of personal or impersonal.  

BusinessDictionary.com defines impersonal communication as follows:

A type of communicationor interaction that is based specifically on socialroles, such as communication between asales representativeand apotential customer. The manner of communication is informal andsuperficial,coveringtopicsnecessary to instigate asaleor similar transaction.

They are providing a business-related definition, as they are business focussed. However, even if we aren’t in business, we are exposed to numerous personal and impersonal communications, throughout our day.

Personal communication, more commonly known as interpersonal communication, applies to the conversations that we have with other people. This could be to one other person, or to a large group of people. Talking to your dog would not be considered interpersonal. Unless you are Dr. Doolittle, your dog doesn’t usually talk back to you.

So back to the question, what is the importance of personal communication … its how we communicate with the rest of the people in our world. Its how we express our wants, beliefs and desires. It keeps us from going crazy. Even shy introverts need some interpersonal communication to help keep their sanity. I’m not sure about hermits though. I’ve never met one.

As for impersonal communication, we are likely exposed to it numerous times per day. If we are at a store, considering a purchase, a sales person would likely speak to us impersonally. A pesky telemarketer, phoning us at supper time with a fantastic offer that we have to act upon in the next five minutes, is also speaking to us impersonally. They may have called us by our name, sometimes even our first name, but they are following a script. Since they don’t know us and unlikely ever to meet us, it can be argued that they haven’t earned the right to speak to us personally.

Many speakers/presenters deliver their content to their audience, impersonally. The skilled and experienced ones craft and deliver their content as if they were having a personal conversation with each individual of the audience.

In conclusion, what is the importance of personal and impersonal communication? To be successful in communicating with the rest of the world you need to recognize when each of the styles are being utilized and proficient in responding in the appropriate manner. I have seen numerous incidence of people providing TMI (too much information) when it is not recommended or appropriate.

Thanks again for your question!


Rae Stonehouse

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