Interpersonal communication is a term that refers to the communication that takes place between people, or groups of people. It can be defined as a set of activities, processes or behaviours that individuals or groups engage in with one another, in order to share and convey information.
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What is Interpersonal Communication?
Interpersonal communication refers to the process where feelings, ideas, thoughts and information are exchanged face-to-face between two or more person via verbal or non-verbal means. Body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, listening, gestures, expression and messages of one person are part of interpersonal skills of spoken communication and can be improved with the help of feedback, knowledge and practice.
Interpersonal communication skills add inherent value to a conversation, improve communication and take it to another level. In today’s competitive times it has proved invaluable, potent and necessary in improving employee relationships in the workplace.
Types of interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication skills take place under the following categories
1. Verbal Communication
When people communicate face-to-face or via a telephone with help of spoken words it refers to verbal or oral communication. It is a fact that only 7% of human communication or information exchange takes place through verbal means whereas 38% is through a para-verbal medium like pause, tone of voice, rhythm and intonation etc. What a person is saying, how he is saying, what he is speaking, where is he putting emphasis and the context is an integral part of strong verbal communication skills.
2. Written Communication
When you communicate with help of written words or symbols it refers to written communication. The exchange of information in a business or a workplace may include text messages, reports, memorandum, emails, letter and quick notes etc. In some cases, people include emoji with the information to convey apt emotion in the statement. As written words are legally binding than spoken words business entities prefer this type of interpersonal communication skills in their workplace.
Listening is sometimes more important than speaking during a strong interpersonal conversation. Remember hearing is not as same as active listening because the first is involuntary whereas the second is an intentional and voluntary action that needs full focus. This type of interpersonal skills needs more effort and concentration to fulfil a specific purpose.
4. Non-verbal Communication
Actions speak louder than words. When you communicate without the help of spoken or written words it refers to nonverbal communication. Information in this type of interpersonal communication can be easily achieved via postures, facial expression and body language. It is a proven fact that the nonverbal communication messages are as effective as verbal ones in the scheme of things as 55% of human communication are through it. In an online conversation, it may be further categorized into two types. In Synchronous communication, people respond in real-time and communication takes place as soon as the receiver receives a message. In Asynchronous online communication however, a person will not reply in real-time. The receiver may respond later at his convenience.
Read more on the Types of Communication.
Elements of interpersonal communication
Important elements of developing interpersonal communication skills taking place between two or more people include
1. The Communicators
Communication can take place only when there are two or more people involved. The communicators in a conversation refer to the sender of a message and the receiver at the other end. Interpersonal communication skill help to replace the one-way process of communication with the two-way process where both the listener and sender are involved in an interactive process and can send feedback through a smile, head nod, tone of voice and gestures.
2. The Message
A vital part of good interpersonal communication skills is the message that has to pass through a sender and a receiver. Significant indicators include verbal connotation like voice, speech or words and non-verbal communication that show emotional attitudes like body language, voice facial expressions and gestures.
Noise in the interpersonal communication theory refers to the distortions that occur between different persons and makes the communication void. Sometimes what the speaker tells is quite different from what the listener hears and understands and this is because of noise. The message simply loses its original or intended meaning and disrupts the relationship between two people or employees in the workplace. In the context of communication and poor interpersonal communication skills, noise includes the use of unnecessary jargon, language barriers, inattention, cultural differences, disinterest and incorrect body language.
The message must be interpreted correctly by the receiver because any inconsistency can spoil the professional relationships and the relationship of the employees in the workplace. It is the feedback that helps the sender to know whether he has been successful in his mission and whether he needs to regulate it at future communication. Feedback tells about the accuracy of the message and the resulting reaction. The type of feedback can be favourable or non-favourable verbal statements like good work or It is not up to the mark as well as non-verbal expressions like a nod with a smile or a rigid posture.
If two people are interested in effective interpersonal communication then it becomes necessary to pay attention to the context. How a message is received and how the receiver interprets it depends upon the contextual, situational and environmental factors. It includes environment, culture, gender, family relationships, time, place, personal interest and the expectation quotient of the participant from the interaction.
Channel in the interpersonal communication theory refers to the medium through which a message is sent and received and how the communication occurs. Important communication channels used for the employees in the workplace are face-to-face communication via vision and speed, intranets, emails and telephonic conversations.
Importance of Interpersonal Communication
As we keeping on reading in quite many articles and blogs that a clear channel of communication is vital for an organization. It results in the best of growth strategies and assures long term success.
Hence, it is quite vital for the management of the firm along with its employees to understand the Importance of Interpersonal Communication. It helps the organization to grow in leaps and bounds plus helps the employees to give an edge to their career graph. It also helps them to expand their horizons in various industry domains.
Here are some points on why strong interpersonal communication skills are important…
1) The flow of thoughts and ideas
When the management of the firm along with its employees comprehend the Importance of Interpersonal Communicationthere is a free flow and exchange of ideas and thoughts during the formal and informal sessions. The results can be marvellous as you never know which idea clicks and works wonders for the success and overall growth of the organization.
2) Enhances teamwork
When the company and its management realizes the Importance and Interpersonal Communication at the workplace and promote the same within its work culture, the result is in the increased levels of team bonding. And team bonding results in the enhanced teamwork by sharing the workload during stringent deadlines and having each other’s back during tough and difficult times.
The aspect of teamwork is very significant for the organization as it is always a ‘We’ and never an ‘I’ that helps the company to grow and climb the ladder of success. And the similar case applies to the employees as well, as they get to learn something or the other from their peers and contemporaries at work that helps them enhance their career graph.
3) Higher productivity
When there is an increased level of communication within the staff and the management of the firm, the communication channels are open and clear. And again the factor of teamwork and discussing all the issues and problems and finding out the viable solutions together results in the higher levels of productivity. And with enhanced productivity, the company is able and capable enough to attain its short term and long term most effectively and efficiently.
4) Helps to solve problems and issues
Within the organization when the structure consists of quite many levels and hierarchies, the problems and issues between the people are bound to occur. And they can range from the competition, insecurities, jealousy and personal bias.
When the employees of the firm understand and follow the Importance of Interpersonal Communication, they behave rationally and maturely and solve all the issues and problems that exist. Plus they can also avoid the problems that may occur in the future as well. And this trait and quality are beneficial for both, the company as well as the employees.
5) Iron out the bottlenecks
Whenever there is a lot of quality work happening within the organization amidst meeting the stringent deadlines and outlandish requirements from the customers or the investors, bottlenecks have to arise. They are the challenges that help the organization and its people grow, evolve, and flourish. And with the interpersonal communication between the staff and between the staff and the management of the firm, bottlenecks are ironed out with utmost ease, perfection, and a lot of learning experience.
With the proper flow of communication, thoughts, and ideas; the organization finds out some amazing solutions to the toughest of the problems and bottlenecks. Hence, a dialogue is quite necessary within the team and the overall culture.
6) Helps to retain quality staff
Right from the adequate and challenging roles and responsibilities to the proper appreciation for their quality work, the internal staff of the firm also looks for effective interpersonal skills with the management.
If the management follows the open door policy hearing their issues, suggestions, grievances, and problems, if any, they feel valued and motivated. And this results in their long term association with the firm. And with the retention of quality and expert workforce, the company can grow in leaps and bounds in a very short duration. Hence, effective interpersonal skills is a vital key to success.
7) Positive image
When the company realizes the Importance of Interpersonal Communication and holds a fair and transparent communication with the stakeholders that includes investors, vendors, and customers amongst others; it showcases the company in a positive light.
The company needs to have a strong and experienced spokesperson who understands every detail and nuance of the brand and company as a whole. The management of the firm can hold press conferences to address the issues and problems of the investors plus make them aware of the progress of the firm.
8) Attracts investors and vendors
When the management follows the open and transparent channels of communication throughout the entire hierarchy of the firm and with the other stakeholders as well, it is always seen and perceived as a fair and a positive entity in the market.
With the great communication skills of the top management and employees, quality and expert vendors like to get associated with the firm. Plus it also attracts a lot of investors that helps the firm to attain its financial stability and the overall goals and objectives. To attain higher profit margins and sales, the company does need strong support and handholding of good vendors and stakeholders.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Interpersonal Communication.
Examples of Interpersonal Communication
Some important example of interpersonal communication are
1. Phone calls
Can we imagine our lives without a phone or mobile device? People rely on it to a great extent for sending messages in conversations in both personal lives and a business setting. Phone calls are an important example of interpersonal communication as without its help it would become impossible to communicate with employees in business or workplace.
Meetings are an important part of a business and are considered a prime example of interpersonal communication in the workplace. These were generally conducted face-to-face but with changing scenario because of the pandemic Zoom meetings have become an all-time favourite of an employee in a workplace.
3. Emails and texting
Emails and texting have shown people how to communicate with least effort and in considerably less time. Email is an important example of communication as it has proved handy in both personal relationships and professional life.
Presentations remain an important example of communicating in the business setting. It is a fact that a good presentation will work wonders and can encourage the team to give their best during business meetings
How to Improve Interpersonal Communication?
Some of the best ways to improve your interpersonal communication skills are as follows –
1. Putting away the mobile device
Putting your mobile device away before any meeting or an important conversation signifies that you are giving your full attention to the task at hand. This action allows all the persons to remain focused and at the end of the day encourages a better professional relationship. The attention span will automatically increase between both the sender and receiver of messages during interactions.
2. Do not interrupt
Interrupting others is considered bad manners. If you are interested in boosting your interpersonal communication skills the first thing you should do is stop interrupting the other party during interactions at the drop of a hat. Let others speak so that you can listen, understand and try to grasp the message. When a person keeps interrupting it shows that he is not interested in listening and does not value what the other party is trying to convey.
3. Maintaining eye contact
An important communication skill is maintaining eye contact as it will encourage meaningful conversation. It is a non-verbal communication cue that depicts your commitment to the interaction. It shows that you are giving your full onus and trying to understand all the points that the other person is putting forth.
Some people have the habit of looking at the mobile, staring at others in a room or looking out of the window during a conversation. It shows that they are either bored or least bothered by what is being said to them. Maintaining eye contact and holding the gaze of the other person will encourage others to trust you.
4. Be honest
Always be true to yourself and others during interactions as this will establish and your integrity during interactions. Communicate your honesty and commitment as it will help to maintain relationships strengthen the relationship. Remember lies leads to negative consequences and result in worse outcomes that will hamper your reputation in the market. No one wants to make business commitments with someone whom they cannot trust.
5. Stop making assumptions
If you are interested in improving your interpersonal communication skills you should stop making assumptions. Instead of presuming and assuming ask questions and listen attentively to gain more knowledge and get a clear picture. This will help a person to gather relevant facts, clear misunderstandings in interpersonal relationships and become a good communicator.
6. Pay attention to non-verbal cues
If you want to boost your communication then pay attention to the non-verbal cues during face to face communication as they are sometimes more important than the words which are spoken. Body language, facial expressions, gestures, postures, smiling face, tone of voice etc. have a lingo of their own and once mastered can subtly move the conversation on the right path. During business meetings, people tend to rely more on the non-verbal cues before coming to a decision.
7. Be positive
Be positive in your approach and see a viable improvement in yourself and subsequently relationships. People will always respond positively to an optimistic nature and this accepting and non-judgemental attitude will work wonders in the workplace.
8. Be empathetic
Be empathetic if you want to enhance your interpersonal skills. This is possible by putting yourself in someone else’s position. This will broaden your horizons and give you a different perspective. Without being empathetic it is not possible to think about and understand what others are going through. This understanding will prove a blessing in business and help to boost employee relationships in the workplace.
We have been taught the Importance of Interpersonal Communication since the schooling days. And the same case applies to the management training institutes and personality development classes as well. Communication is one of the most vital elements and factors to grow on a personal level plus get a high on the professional graphs as well. But the underlining fact is that it should be unbiased, clear, crisp, fair, and to the point without any sort of ulterior motives.
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