Being able to communicate effectively is a crucial component of success. If you don’t know how to express yourself properly, you could miss out on some significant opportunities in life. Some people are natural talkers, so they have no problem with interpersonal communications. Others aren’t as skilled at interacting with people. Once you’ve understood the importance of interpersonal communication, you can work to make improvements.
What is Interpersonal Communication?
Interpersonal communication is a person’s ability to communicate effectively. Communicating isn’t just about how you sound when you speak, although that is a part of it. You can communicate with someone without ever saying a word. You could just hand gestures, sign language, text, email, paper airplanes, even send a pigeon.
Interpersonal communications are also about your ability to listen to your companion and engage in a discussion that ends with a resolution that everyone finds acceptable. It means you know how to work well with others. When someone has a problem, you can help them find a solution. If someone needs cheering up, you’re there to rally their spirits.
A person with excellent interpersonal communication is like a social chameleon. They can adapt to their surroundings and integrate seamlessly with the crowd. If they’re at a business dinner, they’re friendly yet classy. They’re not slamming back shots as they would be at their best friend’s 30th birthday bash. At work, they’re professional, but off the clock, they know how to kick their shoes off and have some fun.
Someone with strong IP communications doesn’t just know how to modify their behavior to fit the situation but also their appearance, their body language, even their tone of voice and vocabulary. Slang is best limited to use around friends. It is rarely appropriate in the workplace.
Can Interpersonal Communication Be Learned?
Some people know how to work a crowd without being taught. For them, it’s easy to be a people person. They don’t have to change anything because they’re already doing it right. The good news is that life experiences can improve interpersonal communication skills. Every time you go through something, you can learn from it.
Take the time to review personal encounters mentally. How did they go? Were there awkward moments where you felt uncomfortable? What was the mood? Were you acting too casual in a formal situation? Or did being nervous make you act uptight and jittery? What could have been done to make it turn out differently?
Some people aren’t comfortable in any conditions where they have to use interpersonal communication skills. These types of people don’t know how to socialize correctly. They might get nervous or even panic. I’ve had that happen to me a few times. I don’t like being around a bunch of strangers or large crowds. It freaks me out. In small groups, I’m groovy.
You don’t have to be voted Most Popular just to have interpersonal communication skills. Fake it ‘til you make it. When you take the time to learn about what skills are preferred, you can start practicing them until you’ve got them mastered. The tips we’ll provide aren’t hard to do, but they can make a significant impact on your future, especially in the workforce.
Why is Interpersonal Communication Important?
You may be wondering why interpersonal communication is essential for your success in life. Without interpersonal skills, you will find it harder to communicate with other people. Maybe you’re using the wrong tone and vocabulary, so your point comes across the wrong way.
Or you don’t pay attention to your body language and accidentally offend someone. Without IP skills, it can be challenging to work as part of a team. You have to be able to be compassionate and empathetic toward other people. You’ll also have to know how to compromise, or even concede personal wants for the good of the group.
If you lack communication skills, you’ll struggle with personal relationships and friendships. You might also have problems at work. Employers look for strong interpersonal communication skills when they want to make promotions. It’s easier to promote within the company than to bring in an outsider that has to be trained.
Now that you understand the importance of interpersonal communication allow us to provide you with ten skills that will make you better at communicating.
Do you want to know the secret to a happy life? It’s knowing how to communicate appropriately. One of my biggest peeves – something that irritates me – is ending up in an argument because I’ve been misunderstood. Disagreements can get out of control quickly if you don’t know how to express yourself .
I’m a smart alleck. I own it. For a long time, it didn’t dawn on me that there were times when it was appropriate to be glib, and times when I should be serious. There have been plenty of occasions when I’ve found myself in arguments over something I intended as a simple joke, just because I was misunderstood. You live, and you learn.
Knowing how to communicate correctly in different settings is a huge advantage in life. If you’re unsure of what you’re supposed to be doing, take time to study the room. Observe the behavior of others and imitate it. If they’re speaking quietly, don’t talk in your normal voice. If no one else is eating yet, don’t reach for that tempting drumstick. If you’re having a conversation with your boss, don’t curse and use a bunch of slang. Keep it professional and respectful.
Forms of Communication
You aren’t just being judged on how you talk and act. You also need strong nonverbal communication skills. Learn to be aware of your body language. Standing with your arms crossed or frequently checking your watch and yawning, can send the wrong message. Instead, stand with your arms relaxed. Nod and make sounds, so it’s apparent that you’re listening.
If you want to make a good impression, it helps to have proper writing skills. I’m not saying you have to be an English major. You aren’t writing a book. But you should know how to structure a proper email, using correct spelling and concise sentences. Use appropriate grammar and break the sentences up into paragraphs, so it’s easy to read.
Most word processing programs like Word or Google Docs have a spell check feature, so there’s no excuse for having misspelled words. All smartphones have it too. They even spell check your text messages. If you want to look impressive, consider a program like Grammarly, which makes your documents shine. You should see my work before I run it through. Yikes!
If you want to be an efficient interpersonal communicator, you have to know how to act appropriately. One of the best ways to make a good impression on people is to have manners. Say, please, and thank you. Yes sir, no ma’am. Smile a lot. Be gracious and appreciative.
Nothing irritates me more than someone who doesn’t use their manners. As a Southern woman, I take time to be courteous with everyone. I’ll be a few minutes late for an appointment because I hold the door open for an elderly couple. If someone drops something, I pick it up for them. I find ways to compliment everyone I interact with, just to make them smile.
Having etiquette improves a person’s ability to communicate effectively. Etiquette means having manners and knowing how to behave according to societal norms. You know how to act at a formal black-tie affair or a company picnic. Regardless of where you’re at, you’re always aware of behaving appropriately.
Be Aware of Your Actions
Many times, people remember what we do more than what we say. Skilled communicators are always aware of their behavior. They watch their language, so they don’t use vulgar words in inappropriate situations like school, work, or church. And they are conscious of those around them, so they don’t use offensive gestures.
Being in mixed company is a prime example of why you should always be aware of how you’re acting. Men and women think differently, as is apparent if you’ve ever spent time with a single-gender group. The male gender has undoubtedly earned a reputation for being vulgar and crass. While many women might get offended by their blunt jokes and belching.
When you learn how to adapt your behaviors to your surroundings, you improve your chances of having better communications. People are less distracted by things you’re doing that they disapprove of so they can have a more pleasant conversation. Why spend your time bickering when you could get along?
If you want to be good at interpersonal communications, you have to learn how to be flexible. There will be times when you have to give in on a situation, even if you disagree. Learning how to compromise with people is an excellent solution out of any problematic situation. Instead of getting angry and walking out on a deal, you keep your temper in check and find a solution that works for everyone.
In the workforce, employers admire employees who know how to adapt to the situation they’re experiencing, even if it’s new. Instead of freaking out, you figure out what needs to be done. If you need to learn something new, you jump right in without being asked. You do what it takes to adapt and overcome difficulties.
In relationships, being flexible can be beneficial as it will reduce the number of disagreements you have with your companion. Whether it’s your best friend or your wife of six years, knowing how to concede in a dispute can go a long way in building strong, positive relationships.
Know When to Give In
Part of being flexible means knowing when you’re fighting for a lost cause. There will be times when you’re fighting for something, but it goes nowhere. If you can’t seem to get your point across, take a step back, and evaluate the situation. Are you unreasonable? Is there something you’re missing?
Most people are willing to negotiate in a situation so they can at least get something they want out of the deal. If you come across something you can’t sign off on, don’t be afraid to counter-offer. Just because you can’t have everything, your way doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you want.
Take time to listen to the proposal before you make a decision. Look at it from their side to see what they’re seeing. Once you get an idea of where they’re coming from, it makes it easier for you to be reasonable enough to find a mutual solution that works for everyone. When you’re fair, everyone gets to be happy.
When you have integrity, you do the right thing, even if it doesn’t benefit you. If you find money or a debit card on the street, you turn it into the police. You don’t take things that aren’t yours, and you keep your word. A person with integrity is honest and trustworthy.
If you know someone is unreliable and sketchy, you’re not going to be foolish enough to put them in a situation where they can take advantage of you. You’re not going to leave a thief alone in your house. Nor would you trust a compulsive liar if they ask to borrow money.
Having integrity improves interpersonal communication because you become someone who has a positive reputation. If you get an assignment at work, your boss knows he can count on you to get it done correctly and on time because that’s what you do. You have healthy relationships because your loved ones know they can rely on you.
Be a Role Model
Most people are followers. They’re happiest when they have something to invest in, even if it’s just the newest fad diet or a tv series. For these people, they go with the masses. If someone gets shunned by the leaders of the group, these folks fall in line and shut the offender out. Even if they haven’t been personally wronged.
When you have integrity, you don’t hold personal grudges. You also don’t set people against each other. What’s going on between you and someone stays private. We tend to side with a person we’re connected to, even if it’s just at work, over someone we barely know. If you’re treating a new person like crap due to something in your past, others might do the same.
Let go of the past, so it doesn’t poison your future. Don’t let your personal situation influence the behaviors of those around you. And don’t get caught up in someone else’s problems to the point where it affects your own life.
If you want to be good at interpersonal communication, you have to have interpersonal skills. You need to know how to listen actively. You don’t just hear what is being said. A skilled communicator pays attention to tone, language selection, posture, facial expressions, and emotions.
You show that you’re paying attention by nodding, asking them follow-up questions, or summing up the speaker’s problems in your own words. When your audience feels like they’re being listened to, the conversation can lead to better results.
Other interpersonal skills that you could use are:
- Conflict resolution
Improve Your People Skills
With every social interaction, you’re building on your people skills. When you know how to talk to people in different situations, you can have more enjoyable conversations. Having an open mind lets you learn things you’d never considered.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes when you’re having a conversation. Try to understand what you’re hearing. When you relate to someone, it makes your discussion more personal. It helps build a stronger bond and improves your interpersonal skills.
Be sympathetic to their problems. Offer advice if you have any or condolences if you don’t. Maybe you could share your view on the situation to help them figure things out. Sometimes, it just helps to know someone understands.
A person’s attitude can set the tone of the whole conversation. If you’re in a bad mood, you might be looking for a fight, so you snap at someone. When you’re in a good mood, you crack a joke or say something funny. But if you’re sad, you might have trouble feeling optimistic about a situation.
Skilled communicators know how to keep their emotions in check, so they don’t interfere with everyday living. I’m not expecting you to become a closed-off, emotionless robot who never feels anything. Some of the best communicators feel things deep in their souls. They just know how to keep it out of the public eye.
Learn how to manage your emotions, so they don’t control you. If you’re upset, take a few moments to collect yourself before you respond to a situation. Never react when you’re under the influence of strong emotions. This often adds fuel to the fire and causes situations to get out of control.
When you’re having a bad day, it can be challenging to force a smile and pretend like everything’s great. Sometimes, it helps to look at the good things you have going for you. When you put things in perspective, it helps clear your mind.
When you get into the habit of finding a way to look on the bright side, you are setting yourself up to be less stressed. Life doesn’t always go right. You should always expect the unexpected. Don’t get mad when your car messes up. As with any product, your vehicle is subject to wear and tear.
Just this week, I had to replace the alternator on my truck after it went out on our two-hour drive home at ten o’clock at night. We broke down on the side of the interstate. My dad had to come to our rescue. My children were terrified. I was angry but also thankful that we were close to home before it quit. I acknowledged that the situation could have been a lot worse.
A part of being an excellent interpersonal communicator is knowing how to act in a professional manner. You know how to make a good impression on your boss, without being a suck-up. Don’t try getting on his good side by complimenting his suit. If you’re going to offer a compliment, find something personal, such as a merger they’ve completed that impressed you.
If you’re at an office party, you keep yourself in control. You don’t get drunk and hit on a coworker. Nor will you start bashing the female that’s competing with you for a new position within the company. In the event of a personal fight, you don’t expose your dirty laundry.
Experienced communicators know how to keep their personal lives separate from their work. Believe me. The two don’t mix well together. If you want to be able to give your job your full concentration, you have to keep a clear head. Don’t focus on your personal issues while you’re on the clock. Taking a break from them can help you see the situation differently later on.
While you’re on the clock, you should remember that you are representing the company that employs you. If you mess up, it can make them look bad. A corrupt CEO can ruin an establishment. A crooked accountant could rob the company blind.
When you are on company time, you want to maintain a professional demeanor. Don’t play practical jokes and get a reputation as the office clown. You’ll be looked over when it’s time for a promotion. You also don’t want to be known as a slacker or the gossip.
Keep your interactions with your coworkers limited to work matters. Don’t discuss your personal issues during office hours. Avoid talking about your coworkers with each other. Not everyone knows how to keep their mouths shut.
Another lesser-known part of having strong interpersonal communication skills is to be accountable. When you behave responsibly, it makes you trustworthy. People know they can count on you if they confide their problems or if they ask you for help. At work, you may be assigned more significant tasks. At home, you may have healthy relationships.
When you’re responsible, you consider your behavior and the consequences. You don’t do stupid things that could negatively impact you or others, such as drinking and driving or stealing. You take care of your obligations, whether it’s paying your rent or buying your baby diapers.
Acting responsible makes you an excellent communicator because you back up what you claim. You can explain yourself, and you do it in a manner that keeps you true to your word. You’re reliable, so if you tell a friend you’ll pick them up from work, they know you mean it.
In life, you will rarely deal with situations alone. Whether it’s family, friends, a romantic partner, or even your colleagues, there will be problems that occur in connection with other people. You must know how to work with others if you want to be successful in life.
If you don’t know how to communicate correctly, you could end up isolating everyone in your circle, which makes more problems for you to solve. At work, your coworkers could think you’re bossy or rude, so they give you the cold shoulder and don’t participate properly. At home, your boyfriend could believe you are too controlling because you have OCD tendencies.
If you want to get by in life, you have to learn how to play nice with others. It’s something they start trying to teach us in school. For some, it’s easy to learn. For others, not so much. Some people have selfish tendencies that keep them from thinking of the needs of others before themselves.
If you want to be skilled at interpersonal communications, you have to have ethics, which are moral values. When you have to retain the services of a lawyer or doctor, by law, they are not allowed to discuss your information with anyone unless you give permission. But when we talk to friends, coworkers, or family, we don’t have that guarantee.
We take a chance on someone when we tell them something. Have you ever shared a secret with someone, only to regret it when they told everyone before you were ready? Yeah, that happened with two of my pregnancies. Way to steal my thunder! Sometimes, we share personal information that we don’t want the whole world to know.
It can be intimidating trying to divulge sensitive information to other people. Especially if you have trust issues or it’s a controversial topic that could receive unwanted attention. It’s risky to know who you can trust. Most of the time, it’s just a guessing game. But when you have a reputation for being ethical, people know they can count on you.
Importance of Interpersonal Communication
If you want to have a balanced life, you have to learn how to be an efficient communicator. Interpersonal communication is how you interact with those around you, both in your personal and professional lives. Everyone can benefit from improving their people skills. Hopefully, we’ve helped you understand the importance of interpersonal communication. Now go communicate!