What are interpersonal communication skills?

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.

Working a Room: The ABC’s of Interrupting a Conversation

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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.

 

Have Good Manners and “Respect” Disappeared in 2012?

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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.