Before you can thoroughly probe and debate the nuances of communication, you have to start with the basics. And that journey begins with good working definitions of key words. Such is the case with intrapersonal and interpersonal communications -- terms that distinguish internal from external processes. Delineate the terms by looking at the prefixes.

Intrapersonal Communications

“Intra” means “within,” so it makes sense that intrapersonal communications exist within an individual. If you're a student who enjoys playing devil's advocate, you might say, “How can you communicate with yourself?” This is a good question, and the answer resides in stretching the definition beyond the strictest sense of the word. Intrapersonal communication involves all of the internal thought processes, including thinking, perceiving, sensing, evaluating and interpreting events within yourself. These skills are vital to problem solving, reasoning and analyzing.

Interpersonal Communications

Entire courses and college degree programs are built upon the fundamentals of interpersonal communications, and they all begin with the process by which people communicate, exchange communication and convey feelings and emotions through verbal and nonverbal means. The prefix “inter” means between and among, so it follows that interpersonal communications -- unlike intrapersonal communications – involves at least two people. This expansive topic of study has changed tremendously in the last 20 years, evolving from phone calls and letters to include the technology-based communication methods of emails, text messages and video conferencing. But it's the root of interpersonal communications -- the dynamic that occurs between people as they navigate internal and external influences -- that might remain the most fascinating of all for students embarking on this course of study.

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