Interpersonal communication is an important soft skill, which plays a vital role in our personal and professional lives. Without it, the world around us would grind to a halt. It's at the heart of our careers, from acing that first interview to presenting ideas and leading teams.
Unfortunately, many people struggle to communicate effectively. This can impact their professional and personal lives, causing them to fall short of their full potential.
Like any other skill, however, becoming a great communicator is about practicing the right things. Developing proficiency in verbal, nonverbal, and written communication is crucial to achieving success.
Here are 9 examples of interpersonal communication skills and tips on how you can improve them.
For some, conversations can be nerve-wracking. The feeling of being put on the spot can make the greatest listener panic and compulsively think about what they're going to say next. Unfortunately, this leads to listeners tuning out their conversational partner in favor of their own ideas, leading to friction and miscommunication.
Instead of thinking about what you're going to say, practice active listening. This is when you're present in the conversation, so you understand the message that's being communicated as opposed to passively hearing the words.
Listening attentively, asking questions, and giving your undivided attention to the speaker shows you care and have respect for others in the conversation.
Don't worry if there's silence while you think of a response. It shows you're taking it seriously and not just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.
Imagine you're doing a seminar on how to set up video conferencing. If you seem uncertain about your abilities, your audience will think the same thing, which affects your authority and the trust they place in you.
Confidence in communication is about conveying a message without hesitation and is crucial in verbal, nonverbal, and written forms. Being comfortable expressing yourself with assurance and authority will make others more receptive to what you have to say. It also provides you with more opportunities to speak.
If you're in a meeting, confidently sharing your ideas will assist you in standing out as someone with valuable contributions. People will want to hear what you have to say and listen when you speak.
Have faith in yourself. Practice presentations, plan for meetings, and think before you vocalize your thoughts to build confidence and improve your communication.
Two common interpersonal communication mistakes are failing to get to the point quickly and failing to make the point at all. Clarity and brevity are vital to effective communication. Overcomplicating it by straying from the subject and including unnecessary information leads to misunderstandings and long-winded, rambling speeches that ultimately go nowhere.
For example, using overly technical jargon for digital upskilling could cause employees to struggle. To improve your communication, stick to making clear, concise points, using language your audience will understand in both verbal and written communication. Show people you value their time by staying focused on the task at hand.
Our bodies have a language of their own. For example, when someone crosses their arms in a meeting, we identify them as being resistant. Considering your body language and the body language of those around you can improve your communication.
Facial expressions, posture, eye contact, body position, and movement are all part of how we see each other. Being aware of nonverbal communication is the first step in coordinating what you say with your body as well as understanding how others feel.
Don't get caught up in the minutiae of every movement. Take note of your overarching body language and make adjustments to positively impact the message you want to send.
We can hear when someone is nervous, happy, or annoyed in the tone and pitch of their voice. When they're speaking, we consider not only the words they say but how they say them. Our voices convey how we're feeling, and it's easy to slip into a disappointed or bored tone.
When you're speaking, consider how you sound. Is your voice enthusiastic, passionate, or angry? Is your tone appropriate to the setting? Being aware of how you sound will help you make adjustments and appeal to your audience better. This could be during a presentation or a one-to-one meeting.
Try to avoid slipping into monotonous dialogue that may make it difficult for people to focus and follow your speech. This can be difficult when writing especially, as there's no tone or inflection. However, reviewing your writing or reading it out loud can help you assess its suitability.
When it comes to improving your communication skills, choosing the right format is crucial to achieving your aims. For example, if you want to find out how to become an affiliate marketer, do you want a four-hour seminar, a long article, or something in between?
With a variety of communication methods available, including email, phone calls, formal meetings, informal chats, and presentations, conveying your message effectively is easier than ever.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve. It could be interactive conversations or to provide quick updates. An effective communication method will show you're being mindful of people's time and enable you to communicate meaningfully, increasing your productivity and focus.
Spelling and grammar mistakes are not necessarily embarrassing, but they can lead to emails, letters, and reports being misread and difficult to understand.
Avoid this by proofreading and editing your written communication. If you're having trouble deciding if your message is clear, try reading it out loud. You know what good communication sounds like, so listen to see if yours passes the test.
There's no such thing as a perfect first draft, so whether it's an annual report or an update to a colleague, take a minute to ensure your message is clear, concise, and error-free.
Imagine you're in a meeting about changing business processes, and a topic such as optical character recognition (OCR) comes up. You might not want to mention that you don't know what it is or how it works, but you should.
Interpersonal communication is about trust. Communicating what you don't know is as important as announcing what you do. Whether you've made a mess of a situation or don't know what something means, being honest will let those around you know they can trust and rely on you for accurate information and transparency.
Negative attitudes are immensely damaging, whether it's a pessimistic friend or a resistant coworker. Say you're trying to introduce a new technology to improve a business processes. An obstructive manager could stall implementation and affect productivity and success. Keeping a positive and open-minded outlook is imperative for teamwork, developing new ideas, and building relationships.
Focus on providing a positive environment where there are no wrong questions, answers, or ideas. Remain open to suggestions and facilitate conversations. If you communicate positively, people will engage with you in the same way.
No one is born with great interpersonal communication skills. We learn as we grow, often developing our verbal, nonverbal, and written skills without actively thinking about it.
By consciously improving communication, you're taking the first step toward improving yourself. Through the identification of weaknesses, you can determine where you need to put in work to become more confident, expressive, and a better leader.
Make consistent adjustments to how you communicate both personally and professionally to make rapid improvements. Like any skill, to maintain excellent communication, you have to practice constantly.