Interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication skills
Interpersonal communication skills are the life skills we use every day to
communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in
When two or more people are in the same place and are aware of each
other's presence, then communication is taking place, no matter how subtle or
unintentional. Interpersonal communication is the process by which people
exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal
Interpersonal communication is not just about what is actually said – the
language used – but how it is said through tone of voice, facial expressions,
gestures, body language, posture, and dress. This information provides clues
to a person’s role, emotional state, personality and/or intentions.
Our AIM is to give thought to the message we want to give. This means
making an effort to ensure that our words, feelings and actions are congruent.
We can practically do this by making sure that we communicate in all ways
with both:
How well we communicate with others is a measure of our interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal communication can be used to:
 give and collect information
 influence the attitudes and behaviour of others
 network (create contacts), build and/or maintain relationships
 express personal needs and understand the needs of others
 give and receive emotional support
 make decisions and solve problems
 anticipate and predict behaviour.
Key communication skills
Understanding a message
It is often said that we get the message from
55% body language
38% tone of voice
7% actual words
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Verbal communication (what we say, and how we say it)
 being able to get our meaning across (convey our message)
 the ability to use language constructively and to inspire others
 to encourage another person to express their thoughts and feelings by
using open-ended questions
 check you have understood their perspective by perception checking
(are we on the same page?)
Non-verbal communication (what we communicate without words)
 is our body language congruent with the words that are spoken? Are
we being consistent?
 how well do we use non-verbal communication to convey our
Listening skills (how we interpret both verbal and non-verbal messages)
 we need to actively listen – we do this by paraphrasing, perception
checking, waiting our turn to speak, using our body language to
reinforce we are listening/paying attention
 the ability to be empathetic (understanding another person’s personal
point of view)
Relationship building
 trust is central to good relationships
 working together to achieve goals through partnership (shared
responsibility, experiences and skills)
 establish rapport (I trust you and you trust me)
 create a safe environment to explore the world around us. This means
making the person feel relaxed and free to talk, and comes from a
combination of what you say, how you say it, and what you are doing
when you say it
Negotiation, problem solving and decision-making
 working with others to find a mutually agreeable outcome
 working with others to identify, define and solve problems
 exploring and analysing options to make sound decisions
 freely communicating our values, ideas, beliefs, opinions, needs and
Four steps to effectively communicating a message
Focus your message
Ensure your message is clear and is relevant to your audience.
Magnify the listener’s attention
Use examples that are relevant to your audience, ask yourself what
would draw them in, why would they care? Create interest and
make it relatable.
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Limit any distractions (noise)
Noise is often referred to as anything that distracts the listener from
understanding the message. Noise can come from the environment,
a lack of clarity and vagueness, poor choice of words, a message
that is not relatable, etc.
There are three types of listening:
 Passive – one-way communication, typical of a
classroom setting where there is little interaction with the
Competitive – when the person is not really listening
closely, they are busy thinking about their response, this
happens when people ‘talk past each other’
Active – genuine two-way communication. You are
listening intently, thinking about the information to make
sure you understand it, and providing feedback to the
speaker to clarify what you don’t understand.
Techniques to assist active listening
Clarify – ensure your message is clear and that the listener has understood
the message.
Restating, paraphrasing, or mirroring – you restate, paraphrase or “mirror”
what the speaker has said and use their words to verify that you have heard
“Do I understand you correctly that …”
“Did you say that …”
“What I think I’m hearing you say is …”
Similar to restating, this is a way of reviewing progress in a conversation. You
restate the main ideas briefly and set the tone for the next subject or
conversation. “Ok, so we agreed that ....”
Potential challenges and suggested strategies
Unintended messages
Always be aware of your body language and check the message you might be
sending (is it intentional or unintentional?). Think about:
 eye contact
 facial expression
 body posture and position
 gestures and movements
 tone of voice.
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Broken trust
The only way to restore trust is to follow through and do what you say
you will do, take responsibility for your actions, and clearly articulate
the course of action required (and agreed upon) to remedy the
Lack of clarity
You need to be able to convey a clear vision or purpose, without this it
will be impossible to inspire and motivate others.
Poor interpersonal skills
Most importantly you need to be able to listen to others without always
thinking about your response. Allowing people to be heard diffuses
conflict and creates the opportunity to work cohesively together.
Try not to judge the other person and try to see things from their
Always let the speaker know you understand their point of view.
Inability to create rapport
This can happen when there is a lack of belief in your message or in
you as a person. Being ethical, having strong values, and spending
time with one another can help to increase rapport and build trust.
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