The Importance of Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication is hugely important in terms of being able to be effective in the work place, and in personal life as well. It is the process that describes how people are able to convey important messages, including feelings and information. They do this both verbally and non-verbally. This type of communication is done face to face, which means it looks not just at what is being said through language, but also at how things are being said. This includes such things as facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and gestures.
The Various Elements of Interpersonal Communication
There are a number of important elements within interpersonal communication. The main element, however, are the communicators.
“Communications are almost always complex, two-way processes, with people sending and receiving messages to and from each other simultaneously. In other words, communication is an interactive process. While one person is talking the other is listening – but while listening they are also sending feedback in the form of smiles, head nods etc.” Interpersonal Communication Skills
Too often, we think that when one person delivers a message, the other one receives it and that the process does not go any further beyond that. However, this is a very poor way of approaching messages, as communication is not a one way street.
Another important element is the message itself: what is being said and how? Then, there is the level of volume. Volume tells us a lot about the speaker’s state of mind. When someone speaks loudly, we often think they are angry or agitated, for instance. Of course, this does depend on the context in which a message is being sent. If communication is done over a big distance, such as from side of the office to another, then it is logical that the volume will be higher. The last important element is the context, which is how the message is received and responded to.
There are a number of ways to improve interpersonal communication. The application of an Everything DiSC Profile will provide feedback into developing more effective interpersonal communication skills. It provides non-judgmental results that help people communicate to a greater degree as they discover and discuss their behavioral differences.
The Principles of Effective Communication
Interpersonal communication is all about feelings. People feel a certain way when they send a message, and the receiver will also have feelings about this. A number of principles underpin interpersonal effectiveness, with the first one underscoring the need to always show respect.
“It means we can put the energy we spend ‘demonizing’ others and complaining about them to better use, like enjoying ourselves and being present for loved ones instead of continuously distracted by our difficulties with others.” Principles of Effective Interpersonal Communication
Hand in hand with this is the principle that we should not interrupt others. Interrupting is not only incredibly disrespectful, because it demonstrates that you are not listening, but it also interrupts the train of thought of the communicator. As the receiver of communication, you must allow the other to speak before responding and becoming the communicator yourself.
Improving Interpersonal Communication
There are many techniques that can be followed in terms of improving interpersonal communication. Mainly, however, it is about learning how to listen. Many people confuse hearing with listening, which are not the same thing. Listening is about absorbing the information that is being conveyed, developing feelings about this and finally coming up with feedback – the response. Two techniques that demonstrate you are listening are clarification and feedback. This means you first ask questions to develop a greater understanding of what is being said, and secondly you repeat the information back to the speaker, in your own words, demonstrating that you understand what was said.
The second element is all about being empathic to the emotions of those involved in communication.
“Make and maintain eye contact and use first names where appropriate. Do not be afraid to ask others for their opinions as this will help to make them feel valued. Consider the emotional effect of what you are saying and communicate within the norms of behavior acceptable to the other person.”
Improving Communication – Developing Effective Communication Skills
This is why it is so important that people develop their overall Emotional Intelligence (EQ). We are frequently asked, “What is the relationship between the results of the Everything DiSC Profile and EQ?” DiSC results are about helping an individual develop more effective EQ, not measuring it. However, it’s a little unclear exactly what EQ means. Quite a few of us have vague notions of what it is, but it really encompasses a large range of soft-skills. Particularly in the workplace, this is something that managers and leaders should focus strongly on. They have to be able to lead by example, which means they have to have a greater understanding of how others feel and respond to what is being said. To get a better idea of how the DiSC Profile is used in different geographical areas see: United States DiSC Profile.
There are a number of techniques that you can use to improve your interpersonal communication. One of the best ones, but also the most difficult ones, is to use humor in your speech. Of course, humor is a great skill that not everybody has. The danger is that if you use “lame” humor, the effects will actually backfire and the listener will lose respect. However, humor is a very powerful tool. When people laugh, they release endorphins, which brings down stress levels. This means they will be less nervous about the rest of your message. If you are a manager or leader in particular, it is not uncommon for people to approach any communication you want to deliver to them with some distrust and stress, worrying that you are about to convey some bad news. Breaking the ice, therefore, is hugely important.
Barriers to Effective Communication
There are a number of barriers in your way as well, regardless of whether you are speaking to colleagues, subordinates, friends or members of your family. Being aware of these will help you improve your effectiveness in communication, as you will be able to take appropriate action in terms of overcoming the barriers. One very important barrier is the use of jargon. You can never assume that someone knows the technical terms of your business. Perhaps they have only just started working within the industry, for instance, and simply do not know the complicated terms yet.
A number of harder to overcome barriers include emotional taboos and cultural differences. Sometimes, certain things simply cannot be discussed. One other barrier to be particularly sensitive to is hearing impairment. As described earlier, shouting often raises negative emotions, and people who have a hearing problem do not hear well if you just speak louder. In this situation, it is better to first ascertain how the receiver would like to be communicated with and make adequate arrangements, such as getting a sign language interpreter.