Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Harry Smith

Second Advisor

Brent Northup

Third Advisor

Nathalie Oppedahl

Abstract

Interpersonal relationships are the backbone of human existence. They help us heal past wounds, replace important people, motivate, affirm and validate our identity (Rubin, 1985). Research has indicated that without the touch of other human beings, people young and old will simply give up living. Without interaction with other human beings, man’s needs for inclusion, control and affection would not be fulfilled and man would cease to exist. The study of relationships is a subset of Interpersonal Communication, defined by DeVito (1986) as ’’communication between individuals..." (p. 163).

The study of relationships is a subset of Interpersonal Communication, defined by DeVito (1986) as ’’communication between individuals..." (p. 163). Interpersonal relationships are created to lessen loneliness, obtain mental, physical and emotional stimulation, gain self-knowledge, increase self- esteem,maximize physical, mental and social pleasure, and minimize emotional and physical pain (DeVito, 1990, pp. 246-247). Interpersonal relationships commence, and may continue

to thrive for an indefinite length of time or may be terminated as quickly as they began. Relationships progress through three distinct phases: initiation, maintenance, 9 and dissolution (Duck, 1988). Each relationship phase possesses unique characteristics and communication styles. Organizational research indicates employee satisfaction and worker productivity is linked to interpersonal relationships between both co-workers on the job and friendships off the job (Kanter & Stein, 1979 and Strauss & Sayles, 1972) .

The importance of interpersonal relationships leads one to question whether there are any similarities between interpersonal relationships formed within the work place and relationships formed in the social realm. This paper will compare and contrast work-place relationships with an equal power base and social relationships (friendships). The paper's objective is to synthesize research from the realms of Interpersonal and Organizational Communications and to ascertain the importance of interpersonal relationships both in and out of the work place.

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