WHAT IS INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION?
Interpersonal communications are the interactions and sharing of information between two or more people. It is people to people communication, in spoken, written, or nonverbal form. Nonverbal cues would include gestures, eye-contact, and body language. To all of these forms, we must add listening skills because effective interpersonal communication is a two-way process.
Why are interpersonal communication skills necessary?
Interpersonal communication skills are essential because you are required to interact effectively with other people to be successful at your job. People’s perception of you helps them decide their trust level in you and your credibility. This perception entirely depends on how you communicate.
Let us look at the three most crucial interpersonal communication skills you need to possess to survive and succeed in any organization.
Verbal communication is usually the predominant form of communication. Verbal communication skills are vital because they help you speak effectively and build a rapport. It involves tailoring your speech to your audience. You need to distinguish your content, tonality, and manner when talking to your president, peers, juniors, business associates, and clients. You could be speaking at a training session, you could be making a presentation, you could be conducting a performance appraisal, or you could be delivering a sales pitch. How you put across your point of view matters a lot in each of these situations. Verbal communication is more than just talking. It encompasses both how you share messages and how you receive them, which brings us to listening skills.
Active listening is listening beyond the words spoken, and encompasses a person’s body language along with the discussion context. You must focus on what the speaker is saying rather than thinking about how you must respond during any conversation. By truly listening, you will be in a position to provide a more thoughtful answer, taking the other person’s thoughts and views into account. Good listening skills will make people around you acknowledge that you value and appreciate them.
The impression others form is a mix of your body language, voice, words and eye contact. Right body language includes a relaxed posture, uncrossed arms, nodding your head and, if appropriate, smiling. Closed body language will portray you as uninterested or even untrustworthy. Bad postures include folding arms or legs, avoiding eye contact, shifting eyes, fidgeting or being distracted with something else.
When Pradeep took over as the head of a company dealing in telecommunication hardware, he was aware the family-owned company was going through a rough time in the marketplace. He was a well-qualified resource and a man in a hurry, impatient to set things right. It was clear that the problem was with the company’s product mix. During his first three months, he repeatedly met with heads of divisions, their teams and visited his key branch offices. By the end of that period, with a good grasp of problem areas, he prepared to implement a set of solutions. But then, he was taken by surprise when key people began to leave in rapid succession.
Through exit interviews, it was found that everyone felt Pradeep never took their opinions seriously. They said that he would be immersed in his laptop during their meetings with him, never raising his head to acknowledge their views nor show any signs of listening to them. The owners were surprised because they knew that Pradeep had based all of his recommendations to recast the company’s fortunes based on feedback he had received in those meetings.
Yes, this was a classic case of body language gone wrong. Under compassionate circumstances, communication becomes all-important, and body language plays a vital role in setting things right.
A standard set of principles often referred to when dealing with effective interpersonal communications are the 7 c’s of communication. They are clarity, correctness, completeness, concrete, conciseness, considered and courteousness. When practiced in tandem, all of these can be powerful in reinforcing your honesty, integrity and ethics in dealing with co-workers and clients. Leaders and management personnel with poor communication skills are viewed as inefficient and incompetent, leading to low productivity and morale.