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. 

How to assess your own interpersonal communication skills

Good interpersonal skills are a fundamental part of any successful relationship, whether at home, your workplace, or school. If you want to be a good communicator, you must be skilled in all the aspects of interpersonal communication. Even though soft skills like communication can be hard to measure, understanding these skills will help you identify areas in which you might improve.

How to assess your interpersonal communication skill

To assess your interpersonal communication skills, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How well can I anticipate and predict possible causes for confusion and miscommunication, and how good am I at dealing with them upfront?
  2. How often do recipients fully understand my messages, emails, or other documents? Do I give enough information and detail?
  3. Do I ask questions when I don’t understand something, or do I keep it to myself?
  4. Do people often misunderstand my messages? Am I often surprised that they don’t understand what I am saying?
  5. Is it easy for me to understand someone else’s point of view during a conversation?
  6. Do I think about how my responses will be perceived by others, or do I speak without thinking? 
  7. Can I use communication platforms such as email to quickly and efficiently communicate complex issues?
  8. Do I find it difficult to see and read people’s body language?
  9. Do I struggle to find the right words to convey my message?

If you find it difficult to answer any of these questions, it might be something to think about. You might want to write down the areas in which you are struggling and reconsider your approach to communication and receiving information. That being said, even someone who has answered these questions with the utmost confidence might still have room for improvement. Even if you think you are the world’s mos skilled communicator, there is no downside to learning new skills and improving on the ones you have.

Why Improve Interpersonal Skills?

Communication is essential if you want to advance your career. This skill will help you to get customers, maintain relationships, negotiate, and conflict resolution. Here are some interpersonal skills that are particularly important to look at:

  • Verbal communication skills

This includes your ability to speak clearly and concisely, and appropriately. You should be able to choose the correct tone of voice and vocabulary for the given situation. For example, you might speak differently when giving a eulogy at a funeral than you would presenting a new idea to your manager.

  • Active listening

How good are you at giving someone your undivided attention during a conversation? It is important that you genuinely listen to what others are saying and show engagement with verbal and non-verbal responses ( such as nodding, eye contact, facial expressions, and posture). You must also pay attention to the other person’s non-verbal cues and body language.

Non-verbal communication, like your body language, can say just as much as your words, if not more. Examples of open body language include nodding, eye contact, smiling, and a relaxed posture. Crossed arms, restless behavior, and shifting eyes are examples of closed body language.

Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Figure out what you need to improve.
  2. Observe others.
  3. Learn control over your emotions.
  4. Think back on previous social interactions.
  5. Practice your skills.
  6. Get constructive feedback from others.

Assessing and improving your interpersonal communication skills can have a wealth of benefits for you. It can help you to build strong relationships, have efficient teamwork, build good morale, etc.

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.

What are interpersonal communication skills

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.

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Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert when it comes to entering a room full of strangers you break into a sweat and have butterflies flying in your stomach. Working a room can be hard, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A recent post I read talks about the top four most “uncomfortable” moments when working a room:

  1. Starting the interaction
  2. Breaking off an ongoing conversation
  3. Bringing someone new into your conversation
  4. Interrupting an ongoing conversation

The post offers a few pointers on the last point, “interrupting an ongoing conversation,” as that can be one of the most uncomfortable things to do from the above four.

So if you want to walk up to a group and join their conversation, here are some tips:

First, take a deep breath & realize that people in networking events EXPECT you to break into their conversations. You’re introducing them to new people (yourself) without them having to interrupt someone else’s conversation. Some people will be absolutely giddy that you’re rescuing them from the previous conversation.

Second, breaking into someone else’s conversation takes some guts but it gets easier with practice. It’s as easy as A-B-C:

A. Do what you would do if you saw someone you already know. That is, walk up & catch the eye of one member of the group, then stick out your hand to shake his/her hand.

B. Say, “Excuse me. I’m ____. May I join your conversation?” Amazingly creative, huh? But, as with “Open Sesame,” the group will magically open up to make room for you.

C. Sometimes the group is in a meaty conversation when you walk up, so just introduce yourself briefly with your name (no elevator speech at this point) & say, “You looked as if you were in an interesting conversation when I walked up. Please continue.”

Building your business network by working a room well can be as easy as A-B-C if you know how to do it well and with confidence.

When it comes to business networking, the little things you do make a big difference.

Interpersonal Communication Skills training can be a great way to learn all about working a room including tips on reading body language, prepping up your conversation skills, perfecting your handshake and much more.

 

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There’s no doubt that our society today is very different from what it was a few decades ago. But has “respect” disappeared from our society? Watch a recent CBS news report to find out what people are saying about good manners.

Respect and good manners never go out of style. No matter where in the world you might live; we all want to be treated with respect. If you think about it, etiquette is nothing but respect – Respect for others in the way you treat them in business or at the job, while travelling or at the dinner table; and it’s also respect for yourself – how you look and feel, how you dress and how you present yourself in front of the world.

Corporate Class Inc.’s etiquette classes in Toronto teach you that the first step to receiving respect is to give respect.

Find out more about our various etiquette classes in Toronto including:

To get more information about etiquette classes in Toronto and how they can deliver measurable benefit to your organization, contact Diane Craig.