What Are Interpersonal Communication Skills and Why Do They Matter?

What Are Interpersonal Communication Skills and Why Do They Matter_

Interpersonal communication skills are the behaviours that we exhibit when we are interacting with others around us. Whether we are trying to maintain relationships in our personal or professional lives, good interpersonal communication skills are crucial. These skills can help us effectively interact with those around us to build commonalities, create understanding, and ensure good teamwork.

Why Are Good Interpersonal Communication Skills So Important?

Interpersonal communication skills can help you build and maintain relationships with others while developing and growing as a person. Within a workplace, communication excels between individuals with good connections. Here are some vital advantages of good interpersonal skills:

Builds team dynamic and spirit.

When team members can communicate effectively, they can build a healthy dynamic with effective and time-efficient back-and-forth interactions. This ability reinforces honesty, integrity and trust between team members. This, in turn, promotes a friendly and cooperative environment for employees, which will create a sense of belonging and morale.

Sets you apart

Professionals can stay ahead of the competition by combining good technical and professional skills with good communication skills. Building successful, stable, and long-lasting interpersonal connections requires the capacity to communicate effectively with colleagues, employees, and customers. When you can communicate effectively, it will also set you apart from team members who will view you as someone who has good people skills and is charismatic and likeable.

Strengthens communication.

These skills can help collaboration with others, provide guidance, support and reassurance, and convey information effectively. Understanding these skills will also enable you to read a room, understand how your actions affect others, and help you fully grasp what others are trying to tell you. Not only can clear communication of goals and agendas help project output, but it also boosts professionalism and team morale and accelerates conflict resolution.

What Are The Most Important Interpersonal Communication Skills?

Verbal communication skills

  • Oral communication

This is any communication that occurs when we are speaking. Your choice of words, tone of voice, speaking pace and volume can all contribute to the message you are conveying. This is the type of communication that is used the most in everyday life. Effective oral communication can also be beneficial in the workplace as it can help you become more likeable, relatable and credible.

Nonverbal communication skills

Written communication includes all forms of communication that take place using writing or typing. In the workplace, most written communication takes place on the computer, i.e., emails, memos, notes or documents. Word choice isn’t the only thing that conveys meaning in written communication, as emojis, symbols, and punctuation can also say a lot about the message you are trying to send. This type of communication is especially important for remote working environments. If your writing does not convey the correct message or has too many grammatical errors, it can be detrimental to your reputation and work life.

When you speak, do you use many hand gestures? What about your facial expressions, posture and eye contact? All of these things can convey a message to others. When your behaviour and actions line up, it increases your credibility and helps others develop a positive attitude towards you. Reading the body language of others can also help you understand the meaning behind the words of others.

Active listening

Along with effectively communicating your message, it is vital that you can effectively interpret the message of others. By listening to what others are saying, you can respond appropriately with verbal and nonverbal cues, thereby showing empathy and understanding. If others feel like you are actively paying attention and listening to them, they will have a positive experience and enjoy interacting with you. Show others that you are listening by using both verbal and nonverbal cues such as nodding your head, asking questions and responding appropriately.

How Can You Improve Your Interpersonal Communication Skills?

The only way to master strong interpersonal skills is through consistent practice and improvement. These skills may come easy to some, but it might take a bit more conscious effort, patience, and self-awareness for others. By knowing what interpersonal communication is and researching these important skills, you can build your skills and become a more effective communicator in no time.

Written Communication Skills and Interpersonal Communication

Written Communication Skills and Interpersonal Communication

Most people will require good written communication skills for their professional life. This is because many business interactions take place via the internet, notes, memos, and letters. For a business to be successful, its employees must harness all types of interpersonal communication skills, including written communication.

What are the different written communication skills used in the workplace?

Analysis

Strong analytical and research skills are essential for conveying fresh ideas and convincing coworkers and senior management to accept them. When you have good analytical skills, you can objectively analyze messages and solve problems. This will help you write responses, memos, and documents objectively to convey messages properly to coworkers and clients. When we harness analytical skills in writing, we can eliminate ambiguity and streamline processes and improve productivity.

Computer and technical literacy

These skills are crucial in the corporate environment, as most written communications and data analysis occurs on a computer. Having adequate computer literacy makes everyday tasks much more manageable and improves efficient communication among employees in different departments. Employees can utilize technology to their advantage when receiving messages and writing practical, well-formatted pieces of work and correspondence.

Professionalism

Having professionalism is vital in all aspects of doing business. There is usually a standard of language used for business correspondence, and spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are unacceptable. Through written correspondence, maintaining a professional appearance will help you have a good, credible reputation in the workplace. Peers and clients will feel confident in doing business with you as they view you as a credible, professional individual with strong interpersonal skills and social skills.

How to improve your written communication skills.

If you are looking to improve your writing skills, it can have many benefits, especially in the workplace. Having sufficient writing skills will help you show competence, understanding, and credibility while showcasing efficiency in decision-making, problem-solving and understanding tasks and correspondence. Here are some great ways to improve your written communication skills:

Practice regularly

The best way to improve your writing skills is to write daily. Most people don’t even realize how little they write every day; that is why it’s important to find a reason to write every day deliberately. Journaling and blogging are great ways to write every day; when you see something interesting, you can write it down in your journal or blog. Or you can write about your dreams, ideas and experiences, whatever inspires you to write regularly. Remember to read through your writing and do some editing. The more you write, the more you will improve.

Ask for advice

Don’t be afraid to ask for the perspective of others. Ask someone you trust to read through your writing and check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Make sure that you take all criticism positively and use it as a way to improve and grow.  Remember that not all feedback will be positive, but it will give you a good idea of which areas you can work on.

Read different types of books

Reading is a good way to expand your vocabulary and understanding of how words are used. There are many different resources that you can read to learn different things, but when you are just starting, any book will help. A simple fiction book or novel will already allow you to expand your skills, but it will also be beneficial to read books on grammar. There are many how-to books that can help you to master the English language. 

Writing is one of the most essential types of non-verbal communication, and you must have a positive attitude and stay patient while practising it. Just like any other skill, writing does not need to be mastered over time. With consistent effort, you will be able to add your impressive writing to your list of successful interpersonal communication skills.

Active listening – A successful communication skill

Active listening - A successful communication skill

Listening should be an active process with which to gain information,  understand, and learn.  How well you listen will have a significant impact on your ability to understand and have relationships with others. When trying to be an effective communicator, you must give your undivided attention while listening; this is a skill that must actively be improved to better your interpersonal communication skills.

What is Active Listening?

Different people have varying listening abilities, but we can improve our active listening skills by practising active listening. Active listening happens when you consciously concentrate on what others are saying instead of just using passive listening. When you listen actively, it can act as a reflection of interest through both verbal and non-verbal messages, e.g. nods, saying yes, making eye contact, etc. When you show interest, it helps to keep a conversation engaging, causing participants to be more open and honest.

Why is active listening important in the workplace?

For an organization to be successful, employees need to maintain effective communication. There are many advantages of active listening, such as:

  • Build trust. When your words match your actions and you have mastered effective listening, it builds a feeling of mutual trust between professionals. Employees can better convey information, assign tasks and report back frequently. Without trust, communication will fall behind, and work performance will suffer.
  • Increase productivity. Being able to communicate will reduce misunderstandings, and work will be completed more effectively. Proper feedback while considering the views of others will also make them feel heard and respected, making for a healthy workplace.
  • Resolve conflict. Misunderstandings can lead to conflict, but this can be resolved using good communication and critical listening. To do this, you must be able to keep an open mind and use communication and active listening techniques to see things from others’ perspectives.
  • Promote self-empowerment. When individuals feel heard, it encourages them to speak their minds, listen and be open-minded towards colleagues—having this added confidence, your company can build awareness and respect.
  • Improves acceptance of employees. Each company has its own unique culture, and for a business to be successful, all employees must be accepted within this culture and feel accepted.  When all employees can listen actively and show respect, it fosters acceptance and belonging under employees.

Signs of Active Listening

There are multiple verbal and non-verbal cues that someone is actively listening to what others are saying. When you are engaging in a conversation, you can tell if someone is listening by paying attention to these signs (or a lack thereof):

Verbal Cues of Active Listening

  • Positively reinforcing the message of the speaker with words of encouragement or understanding.
  • Remembering, paraphrasing, and repeating details or focus points of the conversation and expanding on them with their own ideas and perspectives.
  • Asking for clarification by asking specific questions or making sure that the correct message was received.
  • Summarising the main points of the speaker’s message and repeating them to ensure mutual understanding.

Non-verbal Cues of Active Listening

  • Body language like smiling in agreement, often giving nods of the head as a way of confirmation, etc.
  • Making and maintaining eye contact in combination with other non-verbal behaviors.
  • Posture leaning forward, sideways, a slight tilt of their head etc.
  • Focus, a skilful listener will not get distracted, fidget or look around.
  • Mirroring the speaker’s actions or facial expressions to show sympathy and empathy.

Active listening is a beneficial (if not necessary) skill for everyday life, in and out of the workplace. Although acquiring this skill and picking up on verbal and non-verbal signals can be more challenging for some individuals and may require lots of patience, it can be achievable for anyone willing to put in the conscious effort.