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Interpersonal skills relate to how individuals communicate with one another. The previous post did a nice job of articulating some of these. Non- verbal communication as well as active listening skills are both element that help to enhance interpersonal skills. Perhaps, one of the most essential elements of interpersonal communication is the idea of validating another's voice. The best interpersonal communicators I have seen are ones that make the other voice a valid one. They are not dismissive, but rather inclusive. They do not seek to dominate a conversation, but rather bring others into it. They are able to validate and authenticate another's experience, and can ensure that everyone is heard. This is a gift, a true and special gift, because it strives to make another's experience a valid one. Interpersonal skils in this light are endeavors that build bridges and create community with another.
Here are a few ideas in no particular order. Consider that interpersonal communication is loosely defined as the act of sending a message to someone else and that person receiving the message correctly. Skills are direct and indirect. Here are a few in no particular order. Keep in mind that all of these things must enhance the sending and receiving of the message - effectively and efficiently.
- Physical skills: making eye contact, using natural and appropriate hand gestures, attention to personal space, etc.
- "Active Listening" : Someone tells you something, and to clarify you say it back. Example: "So, what I'm hearing you say is that no one really likes the new coffee maker and wish we could vote next time we decide to make a change in the lunchroom?"
- Effective questioning: using open ended questions that illicit more than a simple "yes" or "no" response.
Interpersonal communication skills are the skills we use to share our thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants with others, and to express our understanding of their thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants. Some are direct, such as the messages we send intentionally with our words, facial expressions, and gestures. Others are indirect, and are not always consciously sent or received. Body language and tone of voice, for example, can be indirect channels of interpersonal communication.
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