Interpersonal communication skills are the abilities we need to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally. Possessing these skills can help us to work well with others and interact effectively with others out in the world. These skills can be greatly valued in a work environment as they can help lead a business to higher success rates. Employees with pleasant demeanours and practical communication abilities are therefore more likely to do well in the workplace. They do better with teamwork, constructive feedback and within team-building situations.
These skills depend on a person’s ability to pick up on and interpret signals from other people to adequately and appropriately respond. They may be more developed in some people than others and can depend greatly on the personality type of certain individuals. To learn more about strong interpersonal skills, however, it is vital to first understand the concept of interpersonal communication.
What is Interpersonal Communication?
Interpersonal communication is the act of sharing information such as thoughts, emotions, and ideas verbally and non-verbally between people. By effectively sharing information, we can better understand and interact with others, both professionally and personally. With the digital age upon us and with so many different channels of communication available, it is becoming increasingly important for individuals to harness and develop how they communicate.
Elements of Interpersonal Communication
There are a few elements that play a role in effective interpersonal communication. These elements have been the subject of many research studies and can be broken down into the following categories:
- Communicators – It goes without saying that any conversation needs at least two participants. Within this verbal transaction, there is always a sender and a receiver. However, these roles often switch between individuals as the conversation progresses because of the need for back and forth communication. There is, therefore, more than one communicator that will both receive and send messages in an interactive exchange.
- The Message – This is more than just the information conveyed throughout a conversation. Things like non-verbal cues, posture, direct eye contact, gestures, facial expressions and body language can also contribute to the message received during communication. Non-verbal signals can be just as important to a message as spoken words, as they can convey our true feelings. For example, it is more challenging to hide emotions such as tension, sadness, disgust or affection with non-verbal behaviours as body language can reveal more than we think. The message that is then given as a response is known as feedback.
- Noise – This can be defined as anything that can distort the message. With interpersonal communication, this includes physical noise but can also include disinterest, lack of eye contact or attention, complicated words, cultural differences and misunderstanding.
- Channel – This refers to the means of communication, how it is transmitted. Communication can be face-to-face, telephonic, written. Different channels of communication rely on different verbal and non-verbal elements. For example, a telephone conversation is not reliant on body language but relies mainly on speech, whereas face-to-face conversations also rely on non-verbal communicators.
- Context – The context in which communication takes place is very important for successful interpersonal communication. When a conversation takes place in a social setting, it requires different situational skills than a conversation in an office.
Why you should practice your interpersonal communication skills.
Even though some people may be born with the ability to use such skills effectively, there are many people to whom this ability does not come naturally. Of course, these are skills that can be learned and improved through practice. Here are some workplace benefits of developing your interpersonal communication skills:
- Build your credibility and trustworthiness.
- Build better relationships with team members.
- Develop people skills, reduce misunderstandings and gain job satisfaction.
- Enhanced problem-solving, negotiation and conflict management skills.
- Battle shyness to improve confidence and assertiveness.
It is important to remain aware of your ability to communicate with those around you effectively. By practising self-awareness, you will be able to identify any problem points you may experience with interpersonal communication, allowing you to focus on development and self-growth.