Interpersonal Communication: Meaning & 10 Must-Have Workplace Skills

Interpersonal Communication
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Interpersonal communication in the workplace, to a large extent, influences employee satisfaction, motivation, collaboration, and corporate performance. So, in the course of this post, we’ll look at what interpersonal communication is, and why it’s important in the workplace. We’ll also cover interpersonal communication elements, examples, and must-have skills.

What Is Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal communication is defined as the spoken or nonverbal exchange of information, ideas, and feelings between two or more individuals.

It frequently involves face-to-face communication using voice, facial emotions, body language, and gestures. Basically, the effectiveness of transmitting messages to others is used to assess one’s interpersonal communication skills.

Examples of interpersonal communication include internal employee communication, client meetings, employee performance reviews, and project conversations. Furthermore, internet chats also account for a significant volume of employee interpersonal communication in the workplace nowadays.

How Interpersonal Communication Works?

In the same way that “it takes two to tango,” improving interpersonal communication skills requires at least as many (and sometimes even more). Interpersonal communication in the workplace can quickly deteriorate into a group attempting to dance the Macarena, except everyone is doing the movements in a different order. There are certain norms that we employ to shape our communication thinking. But it’s simply too complex a phenomenon to be reduced to a few simple laws.

We often think of communication in terms of a distinct sender and recipient of a message, with one person sending and the other receiving the message. The problem with this paradigm is that interpersonal communication rarely happens in such a seamless manner; rather, people are more likely to send and receive messages simultaneously in a complex, dynamic process.

Active feedback is useful in developing successful interpersonal communication abilities. Simply put, feedback is the expression of a receiver’s reaction to the original sender. Feedback allows the sender to better interpersonal communication by allowing them to change their message.

Read Also: The Role of Communication Skills in a Business Environment

Feedback doesn’t only occur after making a statement, but also during interpersonal interactions. From nodding or making positive sounds like “mm-hmm” to a variety of interjections and interruptions that define real-life discussion; there are a variety of social cues used to show that one person is indeed listening to the other.

All of these parts — spoken words, facial expressions, tone, and gestures — are actually part of the broader message, as chaotic as it may appear. They assist in shaping how it is supposed to be interpreted and provide real-time feedback on how it is being interpreted.

However, there are some elements that can cause this process to be skewed. This is referred to as “noise” by communications theorists; it refers to anything that obstructs the meaning of a message. There are additional kinds of noise that might negatively affect interpersonal communication, aside from the literal meaning of noise, which occurs when sounds from the physical world intrude upon the reception of a message (from poor mobile phone connections to the sounds of a crowded cafe).

Furthermore, cultural and linguistic variations can add an extra layer of complexity to communication, making it difficult to understand what the communicator is trying to say. Similarly, using too much jargon or colloquial language might make it difficult for the audience to understand what is being said.

Read Also: Business Communication: How to Develop an Effective Communication Strategy

Basically, the context in which communication is shared has a significant impact on how it is received. The context comprises not only the communication’s location (an office, a restaurant, or while strolling between destinations), but also the communicators’ social elements. Is one of them in charge of the other? Are the communicators in question colleagues, friends, or both?

The relationship between two persons communicating and their relative social position might influence how a message is received.

The manner in which a message is carried from one individual to another is equally essential. Is it a face-to-face meeting or a phone conversation? Which is preferable: text or email? The channel is a term used by communication theorists to describe the means of interpersonal communication, which can have ramifications for how the message is intended to be received.

When you receive a professional email from a colleague’s corporate email address, you know it’s an “official” message. A channel like Facebook messages, on the other hand, offers a more social atmosphere, which would suggest a less formal manner of conversation.

So, choosing the right medium for your message might be just as crucial as the message itself at times.

Importance of Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace

Managers assess the value of having good interpersonal skills at 4.37 on a scale of 1 to 5, just below the ability to work in teams.

Even though most workplace activity is now handled through online communication channels, it is still vital to have conversational abilities in order to work effectively with your colleagues and managers.

As a result, interpersonal skills are critical to a company’s success. Let’s look at why interpersonal communication is so important for your professional development and productivity.

#1. Solving problems

People need interpersonal communication skills because they allow them to discuss difficulties and consider the benefits and drawbacks of many options before deciding on a final solution.

For example, brainstorming sessions need interpersonal communication since it is critical that everyone feels respected and free to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

#2. Alignment with corporate objectives

Poor communication between employers and employees can be detrimental to the company in a variety of ways. Workers can grow irritated and detached from the corporate goals if managers and leaders are unable to adequately convey tasks.

Furthermore, several employees claim that their bosses do not provide them with clear job directives or goals.

As a result, managers should be able to align staff with the business strategy on a constant basis, using suitable online and offline communication as well as the appropriate internal communication technologies.

#3.  Trust

According to the American Psychological Association, one-quarter of employees in the United States don’t trust their superiors, and only around half believe their supervisors are honest with them.

This lack of trust and transparency is always a resultant effect of poor workplace communication.

Interpersonal communication skills are critical for establishing workplace trust and communication. So it is important that all employees, particularly business leaders, endeavor to enhance their communication with their staff.

#4. Change Management

When it comes to change management activities within businesses, good interpersonal communication is crucial.

Employee communication that is effective helps employees better grasp the change, align with it, triggering collaboration to make the change a success.

#5. Company Culture

Interpersonal relationships are critical for an organization’s culture to thrive, especially when they have a solid structural backing.

Company culture becomes more synergistic and positive when people have good interpersonal communication abilities. Negativity, misunderstanding, and disputes, on the other hand, are unavoidable in unhealthy interpersonal interactions.

This degrades the working environment, lowers staff productivity, and has a negative impact on the company’s bottom line.

#6. Employee Recognition

Employee recognition rises as a result of good interpersonal connections. Chances are, employees who have positive interpersonal ties with their coworkers and bosses will often feel the need to complement one another and provide constructive criticism.

#7. Workplace Miscommunication

Employees are more inclined to approach managers that maintain professionalism, open workplace communication, and a good attitude.

Workplace misunderstanding, gossip, and rumors are significantly less likely to occur when employees feel comfortable speaking openly with decision-makers.

#8. Personal Relationships

For building and maintaining meaningful personal ties in the job, interpersonal skills are a must-have.

People with strong interpersonal communication skills can thus form healthy relationships with their coworkers and collaborate more effectively.

#9. Effective Management and Leadership

For an effective leader, the capacity to create interpersonal relationships, establish trust, and communicate properly are all necessary abilities.

Employees will be irritated and confused if their manager has weak interpersonal communication abilities. Managers, in particular, have a stronger need to improve their interpersonal skills than the average employee.

#10. Employee Success

Managers must also have good interpersonal communication skills to assist their employees in completing their tasks successfully. They must be able to pass on the necessary skills to their staff for them to complete their jobs and meet the company’s objectives.

Furthermore, they should be the ones who teach interpersonal communication skills to their personnel.

#11. Dispute Resolution

Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, and we can’t always count on our colleagues to manage it calmly and quickly. When such disputes emerge, interpersonal communication becomes a vital aspect of its resolution.

Effective interpersonal communication is a necessity for conflict resolution. In reality, all conflict resolution tactics that rely on dialogue to defuse tense circumstances in high-stress scenarios are far more effective.

#12. Career Development

Because many employers seek employees with strong communication skills, continual improvement in interpersonal communication skills can lead to advancement in the workplace for many employees.

Furthermore, according to a poll performed by Workforce Solutions Group, more than 60% of employers believe that job applicants do not demonstrate sufficient communication and interpersonal skills to be considered for positions.

In other words, as communication technologies become more prevalent, employees and communicators must adapt to new employee communication trends.

#13. Crisis Management

2020 will be remembered by many organizations as the year of crisis management. The ability to drive interpersonal communication within the workplace is one of the features of firms that manage crises more successfully.

It is much easier for firms to express the effects of the crises on both personal and company-wide levels when people are linked and have the opportunity to interact effectively.

Remote Work and Interpersonal Communication

Many problems about how to adjust workplace interactions to this new circumstance arise as a result of the fact that remote work is becoming the new normal for many organizations.

We all know that remote work is fundamentally transforming the way employees communicate, even though people see interpersonal communication traditionally as an in-person conversation.

Employers are increasingly seeking innovative ways to keep their workers connected, engaged, and informed in order to adapt to this new trend. Also, because many employees are now dealing with massive amounts of information, businesses must recognize that when it comes to internal communications, one size does not fit all.

They must have a thorough awareness of how to use internal communication channels, as well as the knowledge of how to personalize communication better depending on employee locations, languages spoken, titles and duties, and interests.

As a result, many companies are deploying new, modern employee communication systems that act as a primary hub for connecting remote, blue-collar, and in-office employees, as well as fostering daily meaningful, two-way corporate conversations.

6 Interpersonal Communication Elements

Interpersonal communication has six key components, according to communication theory.

#1. The Communicators

The term communicator refers to both the transmitter and the receiver of information. At least two communicators participate in a discussion in interpersonal communication.

#2. The Message 

The message is one of the most crucial aspects of interpersonal communication. Speech, body language, tone of voice, gestures, and other signs can all be used to convey a message.

#3. Noise

The difference between what is received and what is sent is referred to as noise. Jargon, linguistic difficulties, inattention, and other forms of noise are examples of noise.

Noise is a problem in many workplaces, and it’s one of the reasons why internal communicators have a hard time getting the attention of the right people.

#4. Feedback

Feedback, in simple terms, is the receiver’s response. To put it another way, it’s the message that goes back to the sender. Feedback is crucial since it informs the sender whether the message was received and understood appropriately.

#5. Context

The context determines whether or not a communication is correctly received and comprehended. As a result, interpersonal communication is context-dependent. Context refers to the external elements that influence communication outcomes.

These include features such as family ties, gender, culture, personal interest, and the environment, as well as time and place.

#6. Channel

Finally, this aspect of interpersonal communication refers to how the conversation takes place. A unique channel, or medium, is used to send and receive a message.

Emails and intranets are two of the most prevalent communication methods in the office; that’s in addition to face-to-face communication. Employers must be able to recognize and comprehend the performance of those communication channels.

Hence, companies seek for solutions to integrate all of those channels into a single communication platform as the workplace communication ecosystem becomes increasingly complicated and communication channels such as email become increasingly ineffective.

What Are Some Interpersonal Communication Examples?

Because humans are social creatures, we are always communicating with one another. According to studies, humans communicate 7,000 to 20,000 words every day to one another. On the top end of the scale, that’s the equivalent of conversing through an average novella in a single day.

Interpersonal communication happens all the time, and it’s often one of the most crucial components of your job in the commercial world.

So, if you’re thinking, “What are some examples of interpersonal communication?” you’ve come to the right place. They are as follows:

#1. Phone Calls 

Alexander Graham Bell, one of the telephone’s inventors, uttered the first words ever transmitted across the line in 1876.

“Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,” he said to his assistant, and the words are as historic as they are commonplace. Daily, trillions of words have been spoken into phones since then. What’s the total number of calls you’ve made today?

#2. Meetings 

Meetings have long been a staple of the business experience, whether they are held in person (as in the pre-pandemic days) or via Zoom. That said, consider twice before seeking someone’s time and attention in a social environment, as the modern idiom goes, “This could have been an email.”

#3. Presentations

Although the dependence on “ye olde slide deck” is waning, presentations remain a staple of the corporate meeting room. After all, why not? A perfect presentation can serve as a rallying point for a project, uniting the team.

#4. Emails and Texting 

Some commentators lament the fact that, as a society, we spend far too much time communicating with screens rather than with one other. The fact is, we’re interacting with one other through screens – usually through textual communication.

According to the Pew Research Center, at least 97 percent of smartphone owners text on a daily basis, amounting to around 26 billion messages sent in the United States alone.

That’s a lot of face-to-face interaction, not to mention reading and writing.

10 Interpersonal Communication Skills You Must Have

Hard skills are the technical expertise required for a job, according to research published in the Business Communication Quarterly magazine, whereas soft skills are interpersonal attributes such as people skills.

Soft skills are growing increasingly crucial to companies around the world, with 77 percent of employers stating they are just as vital as hard skills.

These are typically more difficult to detect and quantify, but they are just as vital for professional advancement, personal and team morale, and corporate success.

Business executives, half the time, often point out ten important soft skills which include;

  1. Flexibility – adaptability, willingness to change, lifelong learner, welcomes new experiences, adjusts, teachable
  2. Communication – oral, presenting, writing, listening skills
  3. Professionalism – businesslike, poised
  4. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful
  5. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, common sense
  6. Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values
  7. Emotional skills – nice, personable, sense of humour, friendly, empathetic, positive
  8. Attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident
  9. Teamwork – gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative
  10. Work Ethic – hard working, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time

The Lack of Interpersonal Communication Skills in the Workplace

As previously said, communication skills are among the most sought-after expertise among employers.

People feel detached and left out in the workplace when there is a lack of interpersonal connection; they don’t feel free to share their voice and communicate their needs, wishes, and worries.

This can be a significant issue, particularly in multinational firms with distributed non-wired and remote staff. Employees should always be able to reach out to their colleagues in a matter of seconds, even if they don’t have the opportunity to have in-person talks.

Employers and internal communicators, on the other hand, should be able to convey personalized, timely, and relevant messages to the entire organization and increase internal content engagement.

Interpersonal Communication’s Applications

The majority of us interact in some type of interpersonal communication on a daily basis, and how successfully we communicate with others is a measure of our interpersonal abilities.

Interpersonal communication is an important life skill that comes in handy in doing things like:

  • Collecting and dispersing Information.
  • Influencing other people’s attitudes and behaviors.
  • Securing new contacts and keeping old ones.
  • Making sense of our surroundings and our experiences in them.
  • Expressing personal needs and understanding the needs of others.
  • Giving and receiving emotional support; a two-way street.
  • Making judgments and finding solutions to challenges.
  • Predicting and anticipating behavior.
  • Controlling the flow of energy.

Interpersonal Communication FAQs

What is interpersonal communication example?

Examples of interpersonal communication include internal employee communication, client meetings, employee performance reviews, and project conversations.

What is the best definition of interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal communication is the spoken or nonverbal exchange of information, ideas, and feelings between two or more individuals. It frequently involves face-to-face communication using voice, facial emotions, body language, and gestures.

What are interpersonal skills in the workplace?

Interpersonal skills in the workplace include; Flexibility, communication, professionalism, courtesy, responsibility, integrity, attitude…

How do interpersonal skills work?

Interpersonal communication in the workplace can quickly deteriorate into a group attempting to dance the Macarena, except everyone is doing the movements in a different order. There are certain norms that we employ to shape our communication thinking. But it’s simply too complex a phenomenon to be reduced to a few simple laws.

Why is interpersonal communication important?

Employee recognition rises as a result of good interpersonal communication. Employees who have positive interpersonal ties with their coworkers and bosses are more likely to recognize each other’s accomplishments and provide constructive comments. Other importance of interpersonal communication include;…

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