Interpersonal communication is the process to express feelings, ideas, thoughts, information, and emotions. It usually takes place in the form of a message. This can be in the form of verbal (words) or non-verbal (how anything is said) communication.
Unlike intrapersonal, group or mass, interpersonal communication takes place between two people only. Everybody communicates on interpersonal level regularly. So, it can be conscious or unconscious activity.
Interpersonal communication is useful in establishing relationships between two people. When two people communicate, they form a bond, even if it is for a short period of time.
What is interpersonal communication skills?
Interpersonal communication skill is how well an individual communicates. These skills are also known as social skills or people skills. Every individual uses it to interact with the other, be it an individual or a group.
Level of interpersonal skills is measured through the effectiveness of meaning transferred through the message.
It is one of the most important life skill as our personal, social and professional life rely on it.
Types of interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication can be further divided into other skills. Interpersonal skills are dependent upon these other skills. They are
Verbal communication skills
Everything we speak using words fall under verbal communication. And, the skill to use these words effectively is verbal communication skill. Communicating with another person and building relationships need verbal communication.
Non-verbal communication skills
Communication without words is non-verbal communication. It is the body language, gestures, facial expressions, silence, aesthetics, etc of an individual.
Non-verbal communication skills send and receive effective non-verbal cues. This skill is a must-have for proper communication and understanding cues given by others. Non-verbal communication skills help in interaction and relationship building, like from empathy and sympathy.
Listening skills are needed to receive messages given by others. It is needed to give feedback accordingly. Good listening skills can only make interpreting words and non-verbal communication possible.
Negotiation skills are important for relationship building as relationships need trust and peace. These skills deal with resolving conflicts by focusing on mutual agreement. By negotiation, people come to settle for the same goals and outcomes.
Being able to influence people is an important skill. You create influence with your own ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and wants. This skill is assertiveness skill which helps in creating and maintaining relationships.
Decision making and problem-solving skills
Making decisions and solving problems are skills which help in relationship maintenance. Decisions create harmony in a social environment and help relationships prosper whereas problems destroy them.
There are other important skills for interpersonal communication like questioning skills, interviewing skills, etc.
Elements of interpersonal communication
The major elements of interpersonal communication are as follows:
Communicators are the people involved in the communication process. In interpersonal communication, there is involvement of at least two people. They play the role of sender and receiver and exchange messages.
It is a two-way process where the exchange of information can also occur simultaneously. Non-verbal communication continues even in the absence of verbal exchange of words.
Messages are the words or signals, gestures and other non-verbal cues used to communicate. It is sent by one person to the other continuously and so goes the process of communication.
Channel or medium is physical means used to send messages from one person to another. These mediums could be voice or sight for Face-to-face communication. Similarly, there are other mediums like phone, chat, video calls, etc.
Noise is the disruptions and distortions caused during the process of communication. It is anything that doesn’t let the message pass on to the receiver as intended. Noise can be of various types like physical, socio-cultural, language, semantic, etc.
Feedback is the spontaneous reaction caused by reception of the message. It lets the sender know that the message has reached. It also shows that the message has been interpreted as intended. It can be in words or reactions. Further communication processes depend upon feedback.
Context or environment
Social, cultural, physical or physiological contexts define the process of communication. It shows why, how and in what way a communication takes place. This is as important as the message itself. It influences both the message as well as noise.
Examples of interpersonal communication
For example, you are working in a big construction company and there is a team which has to build a skyscraper. The work needs to be done carefully as the building is supposed to have hundreds of floors.
The team needs to make a decision to add more cement. And, this has to be done with a unanimous voting. But, one member of the team does not talk to anyone else. He doesn’t give his opinion and therefore, the voting becomes difficult. This shows how ineffective interpersonal communication causes problems to many in professional settings.
Similarly, even in personal relationships, interpersonal communication is necessary. If in a family, the dad doesn’t talk to his children. They will never know the nature of their dad. This could cause problems in the family. The children might grow up to hate their dad for not being there for them.
Importance of interpersonal communication
Interpersonal communication can be used in different situations.
- Though its major function is to share information, it can be used for many other things. For example, creating and developing relationships, forming new contacts, making decisions, solving problems, etc.
- It is also used for expressing emotions and needs, influencing, persuading, motivating, etc.
- People with good interpersonal skills are confident and optimistic in comparison to others.
- Every job has interpersonal skills as a requirement because of its importance in the workplace. It is also a skill found in all leaders.
- Not only professionally, it is also required to maintain healthy personal relationships. For example, the relationship between couples.
- It is also needed to get social in social situations.
Thus, interpersonal skill is important and people must learn it with practice. It affects every aspect of human life.