Interpersonal Communication is defined as the ability to work in teams, relate to people, and manage conflict is a valuable asset in the workplace. Interpersonal skills are important in the workplace because most jobs require collaboration, interaction and working in teams.

According to the Business Communication Quarterly Journal, soft skills, such as people skills are harder to identify and measure, but are just as important for career progression, personal and team morale and business success.

There are so many ways to improve your interpersonal communication skills.

Here are some ways you can become a better communicator.

1. Be self-aware
They say awareness is the first step towards change. If you are aware of your strengths and opportunities as a communicator, then you know what to improve on and what to capitalize on. Always remember that being a good communicator takes constant practice, so practice on!

2. Listen to both verbal and non-verbal communication
When people communicate, they communicate not only verbal but non-verbal messages as well. Being effective at interpersonal communication entails listening to both.

It also entails making sure your verbal and non-verbal messages match when you communicate a message. In some cultures, non-verbal messages say more than the verbal message.

For example, a colleague might say “it’s ok” to a suggestion but in a nonchalant and uninterested manner. This may mean something else. He may be uninterested in your idea, or he might be withholding his opinion.

3. Respond with empathy and understanding
Empathy is typically defined as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

How does one respond with empathy in a situation that you have not yet experienced yourself?

It is enough that we say “I understand”?

Responding with empathy means acknowledging both fact and feeling of the situation.

Instead of saying the cliché “I understand,” respond by stating the situation (fact) and the feeling of the person (frustration, disappointment, anger). You might say something like, “You seem to be frustrated about the delay in the project.”

When you respond this way, you are communicating that you understand what the person is feeling and you empathize with them.

4. Be a clear communicator
Being a clear communicator goes beyond having good pronunciation and choice of words. It involves knowing your audience, channel, context and use these elements to enhance your message.

It is important to know who you are talking to, as your message or channel may not be appropriate and thus not understood.

Using a Powerpoint presentation may not be the most appropriate channel to use for a group of 6 year olds. It is also important to ensure that the channel you are using for communicating the message is appropriate to the audience and the context.

5. Be receptive to feedback
It is inevitable to receive feedback, it is the way you respond to it that matters. Part of being an effective communicator is being able to accept and respond appropriately to feedback.

When receiving feedback that is not positive, always think of it a developmental feedback. Always think of what you can learn from and improve on based on the feedback that is being given to you.

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