Take Your Interpersonal Communications Skills to the Next Level (9 Tips)
In today’s market, interpersonal communication skills are considered one of the keys to success. You may have the most impressive work history and extracurriculars out there, but without strong skills in this area, you’ll find yourself consistently missing out on opportunities.
9 Tips for Effective Interpersonal Communication
- Avoid workplace gossip.
- Don’t take criticism of your ideas personally.
- Don’t be overly familiar.
- Practise active listening.
- Provide positive feedback.
- Keep the conversation going by asking open-ended questions.
- Be aware of your body language.
- Watch your tone of voice.
- Show empathy.
Think of the people you admire most: their ability to persuade and connect with others is two of their greatest strengths, allowing them to achieve great things even when facing hurdles.
The Challenges of Interpersonal Communication in the Office
Skilful interpersonal communication is a muscle on the backbone of the business.
Regardless of the type of work environment in which you are operating, interpersonal communication is a vital function of day-to-day business.
There’s a lot involved in communicating at work, whether it be for meetings or just simple work conversations.
Hopefully, there is an open flow of information and ideas. People talk about things in different ways and interpret communication differently.
1. Avoid Workplace Gossip
There is hardly anything more damaging to a team than office gossip.
It is a slippery slope that can quickly destroy an office environment and employee morale – rumours, lies, half-truths, and opinions that aren’t based on fact.
This disrupts the flow of communication, it causes rifts between people and wastes a lot of time.
Consider the impact of workplace gossip. What if other people started spewing unfounded rumours about you?
2. Don’t Take Criticism of Your Ideas Personally
Most of us are sensitive to criticism. To handle it well, you need to ignore the emotions behind it.
Objectivity is key and you should be able to differentiate between your own thoughts and those of others.
Your task is to evaluate the ideas behind the criticism and the reasoning behind them. Criticism is a great way to find out – in fact, it’s the only way to really find out – if your idea has any merit.
Take any criticism with a grain of salt and realize that they are just suggestions on how you could make your plan even better.
Criticism is just an opinion – right or wrong.
Don’t take it personally. You are not the idea itself.
3. Interpersonal Communications Skills: Don’t Be Overly Familiar
Successful interpersonal communication is a skill that can be mastered by anyone, as long as it is practised, and setting boundaries and limits is an integral part.
In business, you often have to interact with people outside your inner circle. If a relationship is one-sided in its familiarity and contains no discernible model for behaviour toward the other person, it may cause unintended consequences.
No matter how friendly you are, you need to keep some distance in work relationships.
Try not to be overly familiar, but never abandon friendliness.
Shake hands, not shoulders. Avoid hugging. In some cultures, hugging is a complete taboo.
4. Practise Active Listening
Listening is the most underrated skill in business today. It’s easy to write off as a buzzword.
Listening is a key component in effective communication. It improves empathy, cooperation, and collaboration and gives you deeper insight into the feelings, attitudes, desires and perspectives of others.
Active listening increases mutual trust. It shows sensitivity and care for your conversation partner and encourages them to communicate honestly with you.
It means to be interested in what your co-worker is conveying, and showing that you are paying attention by reflecting back on what you’ve heard (in your own words).
Oftentimes, we don’t listen. We just wait for our colleagues to stop talking.
But it’s important to engage in active listening skills. This enables you to interpret your surroundings and strengthen relationships with colleagues (and friends).
5. Provide Positive Feedback
Unfortunately, we don’t give positive feedback often enough.
If you give positive feedback early and often, you are sending the other person a message that you:
- Accept them for who they are.
- Appreciate what they do.
- Value their opinion.
- Encourage them to be open with you.
6. Keep the Conversation Going by Asking Open-Ended Questions
Productive interpersonal communication means having a conversation where you listen, ask open-ended questions, and your teammate feels like they’re being heard. It is a question that facilitates a conversation and cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
Open-ended questions will get a work partner to talk, and as they do, you’ll gain a better understanding of them and their perspective.
These types of questions allow the other person to share their thoughts and stories in a natural and meaningful way, which can strengthen any relationship.
7. Interpersonal Communications Skills: Be Aware of Your Body Language
Body language is at the very core of social interaction and human communication.
It is the unobtrusive, unconscious dialogue between us and others around us.
Without much effort, it tells how we feel, who we like and don’t like, whether we trust someone or not, etc. Body language cares less about what you say and more about what you think and feel. It is crucial to be aware of our posture while communicating.
As someone once said: “Your body will always speak louder than your words”.
You don’t need to be a body language expert or read many books on the topic to know that it can affect the way you are perceived. The way you carry yourself and the gestures you make can show others what you are feeling (even thinking).
Non-verbal cues subconsciously influence our decision-making process and affect our overall impression of another individual.
This includes such things as speech patterns, voice pitch, tone, and stress level.
8. Watch Your Tone of Voice
One of the most significant factors to consider when communicating is the tone of your voice.
Your tone of voice says more than the message you are trying to convey.
The tonality and inflection of voice can make all the difference in how others perceive our message and/or credibility.
9. Interpersonal Communications Skills: Show Empathy
Empathy is a skill you develop with experience and a true superpower in the arsenal of interpersonal communication skills.
The importance to understand, value and consider those around us is powerful.
Experts state that practising empathy is good for both the sender and receiver. The giver of empathy is trusted and becomes an effective communicator, while the receiver of empathy feels understood and respected.
You can probably think of multiple examples where a lack of empathy has negatively impacted a team’s output or someone’s self-esteem.
When we are empathetic, we can accurately understand our teammates’ emotions and frame of mind.
We realize that people are multi-faceted and complicated beings. They have good days and bad, which makes them just like us.
Empathy fosters more harmony by treating others with respect and trying to understand their feelings. It always leads to common ground.