The Future of Positive Interpersonal Communication Research

Authored by: Thomas J. Socha

The Routledge Handbook of Positive Communication

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138633278
eBook ISBN: 9781315207759
Adobe ISBN:


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Interpersonal communication is a complex, layered, and patterned human activity that develops across the human lifespan. Positive interpersonal communication can be imagined as a pattern of interpersonal communication patterns—a metapattern (Bateson, 1979). That is, binaries of positive/negative and brightness/darkness are patterns of interpersonal communication patterns—metapatterns. Tyler Volk (1995) in the opening of his book—Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind—asks readers to define a canoe. Instead, let’s define positive interpersonal communication and follow his pattern. One way to define positive interpersonal communication is to talk about its elements such as its words and gestures so that we can recognize it. A second way is to talk about what positive interpersonal communication does—its functions for people and their relationships, groups, organizations, and societies. A third way and one that Volk ultimately uses to frame his book is to not say anything directly about positive interpersonal communication but instead describe experiences of doing positive interpersonal communication. What does it feel like? In this chapter I offer readers a kind of Volkian travelogue through the ways that the metapattern of positive interpersonal communication has been defined and studied and invite readers to participate in the future of positive interpersonal communication including suggesting new concepts like peak interpersonal communication (Socha & Stoyneva, 2014) and introducing a new concept, interpersonal communication possibility spaces (e. g., see Volk, 1995, p. 118).

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