5 tips to improve your interpersonal communication skills

As important as good interpersonal communication skills are, there is no one way to measure them. There are, however, some telltale signs that you might need some improvement. If you are struggling to gain understanding with others, maintain interpersonal relationships, or get your point across, then you might need to rethink your approach to communication.

You can improve your interpersonal skills by practicing and setting goals. Here are some tips to help you get good interpersonal communication skills:

Get rid of distractions.

There are many distractions that influence the way you interact with others. One good example of this is the increase in smartphone use. When we are distracted by our phones, we don’t maintain eye contact, pay full attention or listen actively. Getting rid of distractions and showing others that they have your undivided attention signals to other participants that they have your respect and interest.

Maintain eye contact.

Maintaining eye contact is a big part of having meaningful, purposeful conversations. It gives the speaker the necessary validation that you are also engaged and interested in the conversation. If you keep breaking eye contact to look around,  it might give others the impression that you are not interested or that you are bored. Eye contact also builds trust and mutual respect. It is, however, okay to break contact at appropriate times, as staring may also cause discomfort. This is a delicate balancing act that can be perfected with practice.

Let the person speak uninterrupted.

In most interactions, there will be clear turns for participants to respond. It is important to listen intently while someone else is speaking and wait your turn before responding. If you interrupt someone else, it might give them the impression that you do not care about what they are saying. You should also try your best not to jump in and finish someone else’s sentence for them. You may just want to show that you are engaged in the conversation, but they might feel like you are undermining them and that you think you know more than them. Another example of behaviour that can interrupt a conversation is the occurrence of distracting facial expressions. When someone is making many distracting facial expressions, we tend to focus more on the behaviour rather than on the speaker.

Be aware of your gestures and posture.

Body language, something that usually comes naturally. We don’t often think about the non-verbal messages we are conveying, but these can be just as important as the words we speak. When we want to show genuine interest in a conversation, our body language must also be open and receptive. Some open body language includes nodding, smiling, and leaning forward. Some closed body language includes looking away, crossing your arms, and lazy posture.

Be sincere.

People who seem sincere have an easier time forging bonds with people around them. To be sincere, you must be aware of your own tone of voice, thoughts, and feelings to be more genuine in your interactions. Use active listening skills, empathy, and sincere body language. Take the time to understand someone else’s point of view and absorb what they are saying and respond from a place of genuine interest.

There are many benefits to having strong interpersonal skills. These skills can help you build excellent personal relationships, excel in your professional career, and manage interactions in everyday life. Without these skills, simple things like problem-solving and conflict resolution can become hard to navigate. 

Interpersonal communication skills in the workplace

How well do you communicate with others? Developing your interpersonal people skills can be vital for your career success. There is a continuous flow of communication in any business setting, both non-verbally and verbally, in person and online. When employees can not effectively navigate this flow of communication, it will be detrimental to the productivity of business processes.

Interpersonal Communication and Remote Work

With the emergence of the pandemic, we have all witnessed a change in the way that peers communicate. Businesses have learned to rely more on digital platforms to facilitate communication between employees to reach business goals. Companies must try to retain effective communication and drive conversations even when employees work from different places. In this way, businesses will grow resilient to change as their processes won’t be interrupted due to remote working.

The Components of Interpersonal Communication

To fully develop good communication skills in the workplace, you must understand the different components of communication.

  1. Communicators: Both the sender and the receiver of a message are seen as communicators, and each interaction must have at least two communicators.
  2. Message: The message can be conveyed in many different ways depending on the situation. You can convey a message through speech, body language, tone of voice, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, etc. Verbal messages can go hand-in-hand with non-verbal communication that adds more context, shows deception, interest, and confidence (or lack thereof).
  3. Noise: This refers to barriers that can impede or distort the message that the sender is trying to convey. This includes things like Jargon, language barriers, interruptions, literal noise, inattention, etc.
  4. Feedback: This is the response that the receiver gives to the original message. This creates a two-way flow of communication, allowing the sender to know that the receiver understands the message.
  5. Context: There are many different contexts in which communication can occur, such as the environmental, political, cultural, social, and emotional contexts. The context of the conversation dramatically impacts the expected tone and direction of the communication.
  6. Channel: How is this message being communicated? The medium that is used for communication is just as important as the context. This can be in person, in writing, online, etc.

How to Improve Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace

Employees are becoming more aware of the importance of having good interpersonal skills as the business climate continues to change amid the pandemic.  Although communication skills can be challenging to measure, you can develop them through practice and awareness.

Here are some tips that you can follow to become a good communicator:

  1. Do your research: Gather some facts about good interpersonal communication and prepare for meaningful conversations that you are planning to have. Ensure you know what you want to communicate before going into meetings or planning e-mails and interactions.
  2. Consider who you will be talking to: Consider the personalities and mindsets of the other participants of an interaction. Find the right time and channel for your message and adapt your communication style accordingly. Some communications are best suited for face-to-face meetings, while others can simply take place on email.
  3. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses: Self-evaluation can be very useful when developing soft skills such as social skills and people skills. You can also ask for constructive feedback from coworkers and managers as a learning opportunity for future interactions.

Developing strong interpersonal skills can have many benefits for you, from helping you streamline your work and solve problems to facilitating conflict management and conveying important information to colleagues and managers.