Without communication, nothing can get done. Communication is how we express our thoughts and feelings, personally and professionally. There are many different types of interpersonal communication and being able to master interpersonal communication is a skill that will benefit you all around. This is especially true when it comes to work because you have to know how to communicate with various personalities and people to advance.
Here’s a look at what interpersonal communication means, the different kinds of communication in general, and why they all matter.
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What is Interpersonal Communication?
Put most simply, interpersonal communication is face-to-face communication. It is the process by which humans exchange feelings, thoughts, and information. Interpersonal communication takes two or more interdependent people to happen. This means that the action of one person affects the others.
Aspects of Interpersonal Communication
When you break down interpersonal communication, it turns out that there’s a lot more going on than just people talking. Interpersonal communication relies on these elements to take place:
This refers to the people communicating. The source is the sender of the message and the receiver is on the other end to interpret and understand the message.
The message is the subject matter that is being exchanged. In face-to-face communication, these are words, sounds, and also non-verbal communication like body language and gestures. In digital communication, the message can be text, video, audio, emojis, etc.
Noise is any interference when receiving a message, whether it be physical, psychological, or emotional. It’s always present in interpersonal communication, just at varying degrees given the situation.
Feedback gives cues about the information exchange. For example, in face-to-face communication, feedback can be affirmational sounds, nods, smiles, or looks of confusion.
Context is the environment in which communication takes place, or the surrounding situation that adds insight into the message itself.
Communication happens through channels. In face-to-face communication, this is speech and gestures. In online messages, this is the medium by which a message is conveyed, be it a text, comment, or “like.”
4 Main Types & The Skills You Need
As briefly mentioned in the introduction, there are four main types of communication. These include:
As the name implies, verbal communication happens through words. It’s what and how we say the things we say. Communication theorists have often shared that what we say makes a small percentage of communication, and how we say it (sighs, pauses, tone, etc.) contributes more to communication.
2. Active Listening:
When it comes to verbal communication, the receiver should practice active listening. Active listening refers to observing a speaker’s body language and behavior. Active listeners provide feedback and ask questions.
Written communication involves non-verbal communication that is expressed via written text.
Some of the skills to master with written communication include: analysis, technical literacy, and professionalism (especially for formal writing).
Non-verbal communication is included in active listening and interpersonal communication. It includes: body language, eye-contact, and gestures.
Interpersonal Communication – Uses
Interpersonal communication is an important aspect of everyday life. It plays a role in friendships, family, and the workplace. You can use interpersonal communication to:
- Share information
- Express attitudes
- Strengthen relationships
- Execute decision-making
- Offer solutions
- Predict and regulate behavior
- Express power
- Handle negotiations
- Resolve conflicts
- Be assertive
- Build teamwork
- Share empathy and emotional intelligence
- Perform analysis
- Understand technology
Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash
How to Improve Your Interpersonal Communication
If you’re aiming to improve your interpersonal communication skills, especially in the workplace, there are a few ways to make it happen.
Before you get into a professional conversation with someone on your team or your boss, be sure to plan ahead. By performing research and knowing what you want to say, you can convey your ideas accurately and smoothly.
2. Know your audience:
Before entering into a conversation, take into account the personality of the person you are talking to. You can consider whether an email or in-person conversation will better suit the situation.
3. Monitor expectations:
Any conversation can go in an infinite amount of directions. Try to monitor expectations and be ready to adapt if there is a need.
Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace
Interpersonal communication in the workplace is imperative. It helps work get done and is a way for you to build good relationships with co-workers, clients, and the people you report to. In the workplace especially, many of the use cases above come into play.
Some of the most important subsets of interpersonal communication include these skills:
1. Problem-solving and decision-making:
No matter the workplace, problems will arise and decisions have to be made. Being able to express problems and share solutions will play a pivotal role in who you are.
Being able to analyze and share information is a key to success within jobs. Whether you’re analyzing data or a situation, you can help businesses perform better.
Assertiveness is the ability to take charge and express decisions clearly.
4. Sharing of information:
Within your job and for outside stakeholders, the ability to share information is key. Whether it’s expressing thoughts and ideas with co-workers or spreading information about your product or service, interpersonal communication is how it happens.
Degrees That Can Help
In theory, all degrees in higher education help you hone your communication skills. That’s because you learn with people and have to communicate in a variety of ways. From research and analysis to formulating thoughts and sharing ideas, college helps prepare students for the workplace with such skills.
Even if you attend an online university like the University of the People, you will be able to hone these skills through coursework. Some of the most helpful degrees when it comes to mastering interpersonal communication include: Communications and Business Administration.
There are various benefits to attending online university over an on-campus choice. One of the reasons many of our students choose to attend University of the People is because of its affordability in both money and time. When you attend UoPeople, you have a highly flexible schedule to help you also hold down a job at the same time. While working academically and professionally, you will be able to maximize your interpersonal communication skills.
The Bottom Line
It goes without saying that throughout your entire life, you will use basic interpersonal communication skills. These are skills we all learn as children and develop as we grow up. The use of interpersonal communication depends on those involved and the situation. Regardless of how you communicate, these exchanges will be at the forefront of all your relationships.