For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Applying Game Theory in Communication & Business

Posted on July 14, 2016
Game Theory & Interpersonal Communication

According to, “Game theory is the process of modeling the strategic interaction between two or more players in a situation containing set rules and outcomes.” Interpersonal communication, like a game, is – or at least should be strategic.

Wait, doesn’t it seem odd to use the words strategic and interpersonal in the same sentence? Of course it does because we equate the word strategic with words like calculated or shrewd, both of which seem to contradict the word interpersonal. We don’t like to think about the interaction between two people as being calculated, but those who communicate well, are calculating and strategic. Individuals with excellent interpersonal communication skills ask themselves (whether subconsciously or consciously) a series of questions throughout a conversation:

  • How will this be interpreted by the other person?
  • How will this person respond to my comment?
  • Are there external factors that may influence the other person’s reaction?
  • What are the other person’s facial cues telling me?
  • What are the implications of my comment or the other person’s response?
  • What should my response be if the person says A or B?
  • Does my intent correlate to the response and the outcome of the interaction?

This doesn’t make the person cruel or cold, in fact while the process is strategic, it is also empathetic. By asking oneself questions like those listed above, the individual is exhibiting behavior that demonstrates an awareness of the other individual’s feelings, aka empathy.

Thinking about how the other person will respond or react to what you said, understanding the consequences – good and bad – of what you said is essential for effective communication, and understanding whether or not what you intended to say, are all essential to effective communication. In other words, think before you speak.


Anne Converse Willkomm
Director, Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University


Posted in interpersonal-communications