On the Nature of Peak Communication

Communication Behaviors That Make a Difference on Well-Being and Happiness

Authored by: Julien C. Mirivel

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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To draw on an inspirational phrase from Dan Millman (2000), “there are no ordinary moments” (p. 138). Every moment of life is irreproducible, unique in its own ground, and in this sense extraordinary. This is particularly true of human communication, where small but concrete behaviors in interaction can affect people positively in the moment and in the long-term. This chapter explores the nature of peak communication, defined by Gordon (1985) as our “‘greatest moments’ in interpersonal communication, our moments of highest mutual understanding, happiness, and fulfillment deriving from the process of communicating with other human beings” (p. 824). The main research questions I am exploring include: (a) What positive communication behaviors constitute peak communication? And (b) What are the short-term and long-term effects of peak communication moments on personal and relational happiness? With these questions in mind, I use a practical model of positive communication (see Mirivel, 2014) to examine a collection of peak communication narratives. The analysis reveals the positive communication behaviors that constitute peak communication and how those behaviors align with the model or extend it. The chapter concludes with theoretical and practical implications and makes a call for everyday communicators to make every ordinary moment of interpersonal communication extraordinary.

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