A process that allows two or more people to exchange messages and information, is known as interpersonal communication. Every time when we speak to someone, we want to convey our thoughts, messages, emotions or feelings. It is our inherent habit to communicate with each other. The communication doesn’t always have to be verbal, it can also be non-verbal. We all use interpersonal communication in one of these two ways.
There are many interpersonal communication skills that we can use to convey our messages and information to people in effective ways. These skills help us in both personal and professional life.
Types of Interpersonal Communication Skills
Interpersonal communication can be of two types. One is verbal and the other is non-verbal. When two people talk to each other using words, ideas, gestures and emotions, it is known as verbal communication. It takes place when people are talking to each other. The other type of communication is non-verbal communication where people try to receive a message only through tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and body language. While the face to face communication is something everyone indulges in, non-verbal communication always takes place when you are in the surroundings of people. You may not realize it but some people can just read your body language and get a hint about what you have in your mind. Interpersonal communication is a kind of skill that not everyone masters. It requires a lot of work to learn these skills.
Interpersonal communication is a great skill to have, however, if you are an introvert or you just don’t like talking to people, you don’t have to force yourself. You should always know your limits and then implement a few of these skills slowly.
Interpersonal communication skills
These skills help people in job interviews, personal life and day to day human connections. These skills determine your success on many occasions. Good interpersonal communication skills can make you your boss’s favorite, it can help you tackle conflict in a better way, it can make your clients trust you and much more. In 2018, the CEO of Linkedin Jeff Weiner said communication is one such skill that is lacking in the US.
Here are some of the skills –
1. Verbal communication
Verbal communication takes place when you use words to communicate your message to the receiver. It is the most common type of communication that takes place between two people. You must always try to improve your vocabulary and further, speak to yourself in your mind first to practice. For big interviews, meetings or public events, you can prepare a mental note for yourself that you can refer to. Confidence plays a huge role when it comes to building strong interpersonal communication skills. Be confident and tell your message in the form of a story. Your story narration decides whether the listener will pay attention or not. A good story mostly works wonders. On the other hand, a bad story bore the listeners.
2. Active listening
Most people listen to what you have to say to reply back. They don’t really consume the information in the right way. When one person talks, the other person thinks of what to reply instead of actively listening. In healthy communication, it is essential that both people listen to each other actively and then reply. Through active listening, you can ask better questions and maybe learn something from the other person. Body language also plays an important role in addition to active listening. You should make the other person feel comfortable and easy. Further, make them feel heard. When you make a person feel heard, they feel confident and tell the story in a better way.
On many occasions, we don’t relate to what the other person is saying. This could be because we have not experienced anything similar to what he or she is going through. In such a situation, we must always remember that we should not make that person feel like he or she is different from us. We need to empathize with them and understand that every individual thinks differently. We must listen to what they have to say and further, tell ourselves that different opinions can coexist in society. When two people don’t judge each other and show empathy towards each other, a healthy discourse takes place. Healthy discourse improves our interpersonal communication skills and also makes us better people. Empathy can also grow us as human beings. This further helps us on various occasions in life. It also reduces any stress that we may feel because of disagreements.
We all like to talk to people who are on the same page as us. However, growth comes when we step outside of our comfort zone and talk to people whose opinions don’t match ours. We can learn a lot from such people. We don’t have to buy their ideas or ideology but having a discourse with such people, enhances our emotional intelligence. As humans, we also have to draw a line between being assertive and not hurting them. Sometimes we may also have to comply with their ideas and that’s when flexible nature comes in handy.
5. Conflict resolution
Conflicts are common in workplaces. Leaders or bosses have been discussing the best ways to deal with conflicts. Most of them avoid conflict resolution because it involves communication. But, they must realize that communication is the only way to resolve any conflict. Conflicts come at a cost as they reduce the productivity of employees. Further, they create a hostile atmosphere in the workplace. Once leaders, seniors or bosses start to have difficult conversations where everyone’s opinions and concerns are heard, conflicts can be resolved easily. One must realize that communication doesn’t have to be stressful. There are ways by which it can be made easy and comfortable. It is important that you have a calm tone and positivity in your expressions while you are solving a conflict. Listen to the other person first and then, put your point firmly. Do not interrupt the person between the conversation.
Senior employees or bosses need to have solid leadership skills. Under good leadership, everyone communicates openly and comfortably. When you are a leader and you have to communicate with people, you must keep your tone authoritative but at the same time, flexible. You don’t want to make your employees feel insulted. You should boost their confidence with your words, language, and expression. It is always good to give them their space so that they can perform as per their potential without feeling stressed. You can give that space through interpersonal communication.
7. Patience and sensitivity
During your communication with people, there will come times when you don’t agree with the other person’s point of view. In such a scenario, it is extremely important to be patient. It is important to ask questions to understand where they are coming from. One should always remember that we are made of our experiences and whatever we say or do, carries the burden of our past. So, you must also be extremely sensitive while replying back. It is possible to put across your point without being rude and mean. It is also possible to be okay with different opinions.
It is very healthy to keep a positive attitude. You should show this attitude during job interviews or social events. For instance, if your job interviewer asks you difficult questions and yet you showcase a positive attitude, he is likely to be impressed by you. However, if you show a negative attitude, he might be disappointed. Having a positive attitude also means that you should be thankful to the interviewer for asking you good questions and giving you his time. In instances when we don’t agree with the other person, we should not get aggressive. We should remain calm and positive. Further, remind ourselves that it is okay to agree to disagree.
Benefits of Interpersonal Communication Skills
In our daily life, we transfer both verbal and non-verbal messages. Without good communication skills, you may lose on a lot of positive things in life. There are certain benefits of these skills such as –
- You will make friends easily
- It will make your employer happy
- You are more likely to get an increment or promotion
- It makes people share their stories with you
- You are likely to be good in the public events
- It leaves a strong first impression on the people you meet
If you care about your performance and growth in a professional and personal world, you must improve communication skills. Communication includes not just words but your eye movement, gestures, body language, emotion, etc. With good skills, you will be able to communicate better with your team members and seniors at work. You will also be able to deliver your message positively to your loved ones. These skills will enhance your overall being. You will notice the results yourself.
Ankita calls herself a road-child because of her love for road trips and landscapes. A journalist turned digital nomad, she is either telling stories or looking outside the car window aimlessly. She has traveled most of India by road, and encourage other women to take such life-changing journeys. Ankita is also a mental health advocate and a survivor herself. She likes to tell her story through writing and photography, with the aim to change at least some lives.