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.