What are the most important skills to have to get ahead in your career? Some essential skills include increasing your visibility, getting others to perceive you in a positive light, developing your executive presence and having strong interpersonal communication skills.
What are interpersonal communication skills? A general definition would be that interpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate both verbally and non-verbally. According to a recent article in Hubpages, Terersa Coppens groups interpersonal skills into four main categories:
Most interpersonal skills can be grouped under one of four main forms of communication: verbal, listening, written and non-verbal communication. Some skills such as recognition of stress and attitude are important to all forms of interpersonal communication. Effective communication skills result in mutual understanding. Poor communication wastes time and resources, gets in the way of accomplishing goals and can sour relationships.
What are the 4 types of interpersonal communication?
Listening skills (possibly the most important of all communication skills) and verbal skills include:
- Relaxation – a calm self-confident manner allows for more coherent verbal expression and gives the impression of an active listener.
- Positive attitude – all people prefer communicating with the happy, accepting person
- Empathy – by seeing, understanding and respecting another’s point of view, a person gain’s respect and the trust of others as a speaker and is seen as an attentive listener
- Understanding stress in yourself and others – allows for self-monitoring of your own verbal communication and a greater understanding of a speaker’s motivations; you realize when your tone of voice or word choice is affected by internal feelings of stress and as well understand when you are listening to someone who’s speech is affected by stress; it allows you to compensate accordingly
- Assertiveness – this quality is essential and fundamental to negotiation in that the participants express beliefs in a way others can understand but also respect the thoughts and feelings of all involved
- Teamwork – includes adaptability and flexibility in dealing with differing personalities and differing interpersonal skill levels
Written skills include:
- Analysis – strong analytical and research skills are key in expressing new ideas and getting them accepted by co-workers and senior management
- Computer and technical literacy – these skills are essential in the business world as most written communication and all analysis of data occurs on the computer
- Professionalism – this quality is important in all forms of interpersonal communication including written communication; standard formats for business correspondence are common and spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are unacceptable eroding a worker’s value in the firm
Non-verbal interpersonal skills include:
- Body language
- Micro-facial expressions
In his pioneering fieldwork, Professor Mehrabian made two key points:
- a) There are 3 elements in face-to-face communications, often called the “3-Vs:”
- Verbal, or words
- Vocal, or tone of voice
- Visual, meaning non-verbal behavior or Body Language
- b) Visual components communicate far more than verbal – in situations where the words are not compatible with the non-verbal signals – and people tend to believe the behavior and the tone of voice, not the verbal message.
According to Professor Mehrabian, we evaluate the 3-Vs quite differently. His findings are often called the 7%-38%-55% rule, or the Mehrabian formula:
- 7% Verbal
- 38% Vocal
- 55% Visual
His formula was refined under research conditions where there was incompatibility, or incongruence, between words and facial expressions when communicating feelings and attitudes.
All of the above can reinforce the honesty, integrity and trust of personal interaction with co-workers and clients. In verbal exchanges, a person lacking eye-contact is seen as dishonest and/ or lacking confidence in their words. Reliability and responsibility are also conveyed by positive gestures and body language that match the tone and content of the speaker’s voice. Excessive hand gestures and invasion of another’s personal space is intimidating and detracts from the value of the conversation. Leaders with poor non-verbal communication skills are not viewed as effective and leading to lower productivity and poor office moral.
It goes without saying that interpersonal communication skills are essential in any career or business as person-to-person interaction is required at any level and for virtually any job. Build key interpersonal skills by developing executive presence.