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Interpersonal Communication

Learn how embracing interpersonal communication helps professionals achieve success.

What is Interpersonal Communication?

‍ Definition of Interpersonal communication theory: Interpersonal communication is the method by which thoughts, feelings, meanings, and ideas are exchanged in a face-to-face setting between two or more people.

Effective interpersonal communication isn't just about words, however. Both verbal and nonverbal communication are used in interpersonal communication. How something is said can be just as important as -- or more important than -- the actual words being used. Your gestures, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, and cultural differences are all part of your interpersonal communication style.

Why Are Good Interpersonal Communication Skills So Important?

On some level, you've been developing your interpersonal communication skills since childhood -- but good interpersonal skills come more easily to some people than others. People who manage to cultivate their communication skills often find massive benefits both professionally and personally.

Top-notch technical skills paired with strong interpersonal and effective listening skills is a winning combination for every professional like you. The ability to communicate with your peers, team members, and clients in an engaging and effective manner is necessary behavior in order to build strong working relationships and encourage the free-flowing exchange of ideas.

Effective interpersonal communication skills enable you to:

  • Connect with people and contacts more easily
  • Maintain good relationships with others
  • Provide leadership and reassurance to those around you
  • Express your needs in an effective manner
  • Give -- and get -- emotional support and empathy
  • Have the emotional intelligence to understand how decisions will affect others
  • Know how to "read a room" when you are speaking
  • Give and receive the information you need for every task
  • Stay grounded and true to your best self

Your interpersonal communication skills may be the number one key thing that brings you success -- or holds you back!

What Are Examples Of Interpersonal Communication Skills?

There are numerous ways that people communicate with each other and build relationships. Four of the most important include:

Verbal Communication

The ability to tailor your language and your message to your audience is important. Learning how to share your story, build a rapport, or get them excited about a goal through verbal communication is necessary for an effective leader, manager, advisor or consultant.

Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is all about how you say whatever you are saying. Your non-verbal communication includes everything from your tone of voice and the expression on your face to the way you hold your body or use gestures.

Listening Skills

Listening skills include how well you grasp both the actual meaning of someone's words and how well you recognize the emotional undertones of their words. Listening also means being able to interpret another person's non-verbal messages and the ability to make others feel like they are really being heard.

Emotional Intelligence

You cannot easily succeed on a personal or professional level without emotional intelligence . Emotional intelligence means being able to empathize with others, perceive their unspoken feelings about something, and recognize other's boundaries. Emotional intelligence also means learning to manage your own emotions in any given situation so that you are seen the way that you want to be seen, whether that's confident, knowledgeable, caring, or a combination of many things.

How Can You Improve Your Interpersonal Communication Skills?

Improving your interpersonal skills takes three things: time, effort, and feedback. While time and effort are something that you can manifest for yourself, quality, consistent feedback is often hard to come by -- even though it may be the most essential ingredient for communication skills development.

Consistent, regular feedback about effective communication allows you to compare the answers to three important questions related to your personal and professional identity:

  1. Who do you perceive yourself to be?
  2. How do others perceive you?
  3. How do you want others to perceive you?

Once you understand the differences between these three perceptions, you can start to manage your interpersonal communication style in a way that moves you closer to your goals. Strong, honest feedback helps you take a step back and learn to observe the interactions you have with others -- which is how you begin to be aware of the messages you're sending out.

That's why we developed Matter. Matter is designed to help you receive the feedback you need in numerous areas critical to your success, like your interpersonal communications. More importantly, we place an emphasis on improving the communication within teams to safely and comfortably provide feedback that will be beneficial for everyone.

Imagine that you find out, through feedback, that others don't think of you as a strong verbal communicator. They see your facial expressions as hostile and don't think you listen well. You're shocked, naturally, because you don't see yourself that way at all.

How do you respond? You can set active goals for yourself and make adaptations to your communication style that will start to change how others perceive you. For example, you could make it a point to match your body language and facial expressions to your words. You could also work on your active listening skills by asking more questions and summarizing what the other person has said before you begin your response.

Over time, the improvements that you make to your interpersonal communications will become ingrained, gradually bringing other people's perceptions closer to both how you see yourself and how you want to be seen.

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