30.08.2019 in Informative

Concept Analysis of Interpersonal Relationships

The concept of interpersonal relations is of great interest in diverse fields including management, psychology, communication studies, anthropology, nursing, and sociology. Across all the disciplines, its focus is related to developing positive relationships with others. The uses of interpersonal relations are diverse including intimate, family, friendship, and business connections. The importance of such connections stems from the fact that people are inherently social beings and influenced by their experiences with other individuals. Such interpersonal connections are especially important in nursing settings characterized by numerous complexities that require an effective interaction between nurses and patients as well as between nurses and their coworkers. The focus of this paper is to perform a concept analysis of interpersonal relations. Their attributes, antecedents, and consequences of interpersonal connections, as well as a model, contrary, related and borderline cases are presented in this essay.

Literature Review

Possible Definitions, Disciplines, and Uses

Carmeli, Brueller, and Dutton have defined interpersonal relations in the human resources’ discipline as the ability to maintain and develop effective relationships with other people. These connections also involve being able to relate to individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Carmeli further explains that interpersonal relations entail showing politeness, the concern for others, empathy, courtesy, and understanding. Moreover, Herman, Dasborough, & Ashkanasy have outlined the core behaviors associated with interpersonal relations. These ones include presenting oneself professional to maintain credibility and image; and being able to notice and accurately interpret the feelings of others using their choices of words, tones, nonverbal behavior, and facial expression. Other aspects associated with interpersonal relations in a workplace environment involve demonstrating diplomacy, collaboration, cooperation, and creating a transparent as well as open communication environment. In the working sphere, these connections play a crucial role in developing and maintaining positive feelings as well as trust among employees. Moreover, interpersonal relations in the workplace have been linked to employees’ productivity.

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From a sociological perspective, Ridgeway has defined interpersonal relations as social ties that exist between people. In this respect, they can be long lasting or brief. The sociological definition of interpersonal relations holds that people experience their diverse forms in their daily lives including the ties with friends, family, colleagues at the workplace, and many other important ones. In sociology, numerous theories attempt to explain interpersonal connections, which involve the uncertainty reduction theory, the social exchange theory, and the attachment theory. The uncertainty reduction theory posits that people try to lessen anxiety about others through learning about them. Knowing more about someone helps in predicting the behavior. The social exchange theory perceives interpersonal relations as a form of reciprocal relationship between individuals. In this respect, people compare the rewards and costs of this connection. Attachment theory emphasizes the role that bonding plays in the development of interpersonal relations.

In psychology, interpersonal connections simply refer to close relationships that require a substantial effort in maintaining and nurturing. Heider points out that the interpersonal relations are such ones that give individual satisfaction and joy. As a result, they are usually based on social commitments such as frequent business interactions, solidarity, love, and inference. Moreover, Duddle and Boughton acknowledge that interpersonal relations are developed in the context of cultural and social influences. Some examples of these influences include worship places, neighborhoods, a place of work, clubs, associates, marriage, and family. Additionally, interpersonal relations may be influenced by various factors such as mutual consent, custom or law. It is also important to note that these connections are perceived as a tie existing between people such as a parent-child and doctor-patient relationship.

In nursing, interpersonal relations occur at two levels, which include a nurse-client connection and a relationship between nurses and their coworkers. The nurse-client one is defined as the interaction between the nurse and the patient having the main aim of enhancing the well-being of a client. In this context, the customer may be a community, a group of people, a family or an individual. The theory of interpersonal relations developed by Hildegard R. Peplau is often used as a guide for nurses concerning the way how they should treat patients. This concept perceives the interaction between the nurse and the client as a form of a therapeutic relationship. Thus, nurses are supposed to exhibit self-awareness, respect and warmth, cultural sensitivity, empathy, responsibility and ethical practice, and collaboration with patients. Interpersonal relations between nurses and their colleagues entail creating a work environment that places an emphasis on offering social support for nurses. It, in turn, increases job satisfaction and lessens occupational stress.

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Attributes of the Concept

According to Walker and Avant, attributes help in differentiating and distinguishing a concept from other related principles. From reviewing the literature, several defining attributes of interpersonal relations have been identified. The first one is the ability to reciprocate the ideas and feelings of other people. This attribute requires individuals to share a common interest and have an ability to understand each other. The second defining characteristic of interpersonal relations is respect, which entails tolerating and accepting the views and opinions of other people. Interpersonal connections require persons to exhibit acceptance and tolerance of views that differs with theirs. It entails acknowledging that every individual has the right to express his/her thoughts. The third defining attribute of interpersonal relations is moderation. Distant relations together with the lack of communication hinder the social connection. Meanwhile, at the same time, too much communication results in obsession, irritation, and invasion of one’s personal space. Maintaining a healthy interpersonal connection requires moderation when interacting and communicating with others.

Another attribute is the history of positive/healthy relationships with other people. Other characteristics of interpersonal relationships include rapport, empathy, mental expectation, flexibility, interdependence, honesty, accountability, and self-disclosure. Rapport entails feeling comfortable with another person, which can be developed automatically or nurtured over time. Empathy denotes an ability to perceive the world for the position of another individual to understand his/her actions and feelings. Trust implies that people can depend on each other. Trust is accompanied with support and acceptance from another person. Mental expectations imply that partners must have similar expectations from their relationship; thus, goals should be shared. Flexibility is concerned with an ability to adapt to circumstances as partners work on their common purposes through comprising and reevaluating the objectives of the relationship. Self-disclosure is characterized by sharing and entrusting others with the one’s private information. Accountability and honesty entail an open and truthful communication, being responsible for somebody’s actions, and admitting being wrong. Some interrelated concepts with interpersonal relations include collaboration and teamwork, diversity, coping, and communication. The sub-principles of interpersonal connections include social, professional, intimate, and personal.

Antecedents and Consequences of Interpersonal Relations

Antecedents denote the events preceding the occurrence of a concept. Several of them related to interpersonal relations have been identified in the literature. They include the ability to trust others and to be able to respect the others’ boundaries. Another antecedent is an ability to communicate effectively. Assertiveness (being able to express one’s values, opinions, needs, and beliefs freely) and working with others in identifying also precede the concept. Other antecedents are defining and solving problems (problem solving), and negotiating with other people to reach a mutual agreement.

Consequences denote the outcomes that follow the occurrence of the principle. In the literature, the effects of interpersonal relations include developing a sense of security and trust; enhancing one’s social network; and personal development. Other consequences are the enhanced physical and mental health, and happiness. Negative effects have also been documented associated with the poor interpersonal relations. They include mental health problems, depression, co-dependence, and mistrust.

Case Study

Case studies are helpful with respect to clarifying the concept further. The model case study illustrates all defining attributes. These ones can be conceived by the author derived from the literature. This paper uses some case studies understood by the researcher.

Model Case

In the model case, a patient with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) visits a hospital for medical services. The sick person is concerned about confidentiality and openly communicating with another person regarding this disease. At the hospital, a medical employee welcomes him or her and directs to the office. There the patient is welcomed and reassured to feel comfortable. The doctor tries to establish trust by confirming to the visitor that the discussion will be confidential. Therefore, there should be no worry about his or her health information being discussed elsewhere. To that end, the doctor encourages the patient to be honest and entrust him or her with the private information. Therefore, he can be treated properly. The doctor also informs the patient many other people with the similar disease have already received help. Therefore, the medical employee understands what the patient is going through. The latter one seeks to be reassured if he is cured. Thus, the doctor replies affirmatively that the sick person is in safe hands. As a result, the patient opens up about this disease due to the rapport developed. The doctor confirms that he will do whatever possible to deal with the disease. The patient leaves the office satisfied with a feeling that he has visited the right place to seek medication. The doctor first should establish a relationship with the visitor before proceeding with medical duties. This scenario is a model case because it has all the attributes of interpersonal relations.

Contrary Case

A contrary case lacks any of defining attributes associated with the concept. Assuming the scenario above, the doctor opts to proceed straight with the medical treatment without getting to interact with the patient at a personal level. For instance, the medical employee does not even inquire the name or the place where the sick person comes from.

Related Case

A related case is characterized by a similar defining characteristic. Based on the scenario above, the doctor emphasizes the importance of the patient working together with him in order for the outcomes to be positive. It is the case of the related concept, i.e. collaboration.

Borderline Case

A borderline case denotes a metaphoric use of concept, that is, not all attributes are included. Assuming the same scenario, the doctor emphasizes the importance of the patient being honest and upfront with this disease. However, the medical employee does not build rapport with the visitor and fails to reassure him or her that his information will be confidential. The doctor does not also empathize with the patient. In such a case, the hope of the latter one to be treated will dwindle.


The concept of interpersonal relations lacks a precise understanding because of their multi-disciplinary usage. Interpersonal connections have numerous defining attributes such as respect, moderation, tolerance, rapport, empathy, mental expectation, flexibility, interdependence, honesty, accountability, and self-disclosure. The concepts interrelated to interpersonal relations include collaboration and teamwork, diversity, coping, and communication. It is important for various disciplines to converge and develop a universal understanding and meaning of these connections.

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