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Interpersonal Communication Skills

Interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication skills are those communication skills that you need when you are face to face with others, as opposed to using media such as telephone or emails.

Interpersonal communications skills are those skills that are born from your use of you're:

  • Voice tones
  • Body language
  • Verbal language
  • Mental attitude

If you wish to improve your interpersonal communication skills, then you should look at your abilities in each of the four subsets, listed above, and work to improve them all. It is how you orchestrate and use your voice tone, body language, words and attitudes that determine how well you come across to others. It is your skill in the use of these four subset skills that determines how successful you are in your interpersonal communications with others.

People respond emotionally to the impression they have of your character. They form that impression from the evidence of their senses:

Everything they hear you say
Everything they see you do

You have control over everything you say and everything you do. Therefore, to some degree, you can influence how other people will respond to you.
You can influence how other people will respond to you, if and only if, you take control of what you say and do, and don't act on impulse and instinct.
Instead you should think about how you wish to be perceived, and then act accordingly.

You do that by upgrading your skill in the use of voice tones, body language, vocabulary, and attitudes.

1. How can you improve your use of voice tones?

Here is the set of general principles for the proper use of your voice tones.
Use the lower, deeper end of your voice tones, not the high pitched squeaky end.
Lower tones imply authority and maturity of character. High pitched, squeaky, shrill voice tones imply immaturity and may suggest a juvenile character.

Therefore, use the deeper end of your voice tones.

Use a slower pace
Speak at a moderate or slower pace. This implies gravity and thoughtfulness. And it allows time for your message to be absorbed and understood, by your listener.
Fast talking is associated with impulsiveness and lack of thought. Don't be a fast talker, slow down.

2 . How can you improve your body language?

There is an almost infinite amount you could write about body language. But rather than write about it I am going to give you all the major subsets of body language and ask you to think about each one. For each of the following subsets, ask yourself: How could I, should I, improve my body language in this respect. What should I do? And what should I not do?

What should you do, and not do, in respect of your:

  • Posture: how you hold your spine? What should you do, and not do?
  • Dress code: What you wear, and how you wear it. What should you wear and not wear, at work?
  • Touch: Your handshake and how much you allow yourself to touch others.
  • Hand and arm gestures: i.e. What do you do with your hands, as you speak?
  • Facial expression: Do you smile more, or frown?
  • Eye contact: To what degree do you, should you, give direct eye contact?
  • Orientation: At what angle are you with respect to the other person? Square on or at an angle?
  • Proximity: How far away or how near do you stand or sit?
  • Scent: What do you smell-like: a rose? Or a rat?

Give it some serious thought and consideration. If you are making any errors on any of the above elements of your personal style, then make the necessary adjustments.

3. How can you improve your language?

Again, we could spend an infinity talking about language, so again I will give you a list of things to think about.

In respect of your use of language:

Do you use bad language?: to what degree are you thoughtless or careless about your language? Do you use coarse or rude language in the company of people who would find that offensive?

If yes, what for?

Do you ever say to yourself, "I know what I mean but I can't explain it"? Do you have ideas and feelings that you cannot seem to express verbally?

Do you actively and consciously think and judge the manner in which you speak, or do you not think about how you are speaking? Most people do not think about how they communicate; rather, they let their mouths run on automatic pilot, and the result is they crash and burn, and then blame the other guy for the argument.

Are you able to construct a logical argument, starting with the facts and leading to valid conclusions? Or are your arguments merely an assertion of your unsupported opinions? To what degree can you argue logically, not emotionally?

To what degree are you a good listener?

Do you pay strict attention to that which you hear, or does it all go "in one ear and out of the other"?

And once you have heard the message, to what degree do you remember what they said? For example: Do you have a good memory for names? Are you often embarrassed by your inability to remember names or what they said to you last time the two of you met?

It would be beneficial if you worked on all the following aspects of your abilities.

Your memory, (especially for names).
Your ability to focus your mind and really listen to their message.
Your ability to construct a logical argument.
Your ability to monitor and modify your language; adjusting it to match and correlate to the present conditions.
Your ability to transpose your thoughts feelings and ideas into accurate language.

Your refusal to drop your guard and use unnecessarily coarse and profane language which may be considered offensive or repugnant by others (who will then downgrade their opinion of your personality and message).

4. How can you improve your attitude?

Your attitude is defined as "the sum of all your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about X".
So you have attitudes concerning religion, politics, art, music, foreigners , politicians, Germans, Americans, Irish, Scottish, welsh, English etcetera etcetera.

The point is that you should not allow your prejudicial attitudes towards certain classes of people distort and disfigure your interpretation of the other person's character and message.
You should not discount the other person or her message on the grounds of your prejudice.

Example: "You can't believe what he says: he is a politician".

Nor should you exult or indiscriminately believe a person, simply on the grounds of your positive bias. Example: "You can trust whatever he says; he wouldn't lie; he is a government minister".

Your attitude towards other people should be as follows:

I am interested in what is true. I am not interested in who says it.
If the janitor says something that seems to me to be true, I will accept it: I won't accept it because he is the janitor, nor will I discount it because he is the janitor.
If the queen of England says something that sounds to me to be false, I won't accept it.

I won't accept anything she tells me, simply because she is the queen of England; and equally, I won't reject anything she tells me, simply because she is the queen of England.
I am interested in what is true and I am willing to accept true statements from any person whatsoever, no matter how low down the social scale that person may appear to me, to be.
I am also interested in what is not true and I will reject statements from any source, no matter how lofty they may externally appear to be.

In other words: your attitude should be:

To be a seeker of true statements.
To be a rejecter of false statements.
To judge a person by reference to his or her content, not by their colour, gender or social status.

This is how you may work on your attitude towards others.
This is how you may work on your language
This is how you may work on your body language.

And this is how you may work on your voice tones.

If you want more help with your interpersonal communication skills please attend our two day programme.

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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