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Interpersonal Communication Competence and Social Skills

Brian H. Spitzberg


Every act and artifact of communication is open to evaluations of its quality, or how well it is accomplished. Because such evaluations involve individual and social judgments of communicative performance, especially in interpersonal contexts, and because virtually all achievements of interpersonal communication depend on performance and subsequent evaluations, a theory of interpersonal communication competence is tantamount to a theory of interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication competence and social skills are concerned with both the performance of communication and the evaluation of its quality. Interpersonal communication competence is typically defined either as the ability to enact message behavior that fulfills requirements of a given situation, or as the subjective evaluation of the quality of message behavior. The first conception views competence as a set of abilities that enable repeated, goal-directed behaviors that fulfill task demands of a particular communication context. If the context is a job interview, competent communication consists of the ability to perform the various behaviors identified as essential to a good interview. The judgment of what constitutes a good interview, however, brings with it a perceptual dimension that necessarily connects the ability perspective to the subjective evaluation perspective. What distinguishes good from not ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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