Interpersonal communication happens every day. From talking to your spouse or housemates to interacting with colleagues, we often do it without thinking about it. In the world we live in today, a lot of this exchange of information takes place online. For example, via texting, emails or social media.
It’s such a part of our daily existence that we might only think about it when something goes wrong, and the message we intend to send isn’t well received. Or, we’re misunderstood. It can be very useful to have an understanding of what interpersonal communication is, and how to do it better.
What is interpersonal communication?
Interpersonal communication is any kind of interaction between yourself and others. It can be one on one, within a group or when presenting an idea. To take it a step further, we can mention intrapersonal communication, which is communication with one’s self. This involves self-talk, imagination, visualisation and memories.
In this article we’ll focus on interpersonal communication.
To give a breakdown, interpersonal communication can involve any of the following:
- Verbal: this includes talking on the phone, chatting to colleagues at work, or the interactions that you have with people around you when going about your day.
- Non-verbal: while we focus on the words we use, our body language can also form a very important part of the messages we send to others when we engage with them.
- Written: how we express ourselves in writing can also be a critical element of effective interactions with others, especially in a business environment and when building relationships.
- Listening: this element of effective interaction is often overlooked. But, it’s essential as messages also need to be received and interpreted for communication to take place.
Why is it important?
Now that we’ve defined interpersonal communication, we can start thinking about the importance of understanding how we interact with others.
In our personal and professional lives, building and maintaining harmonious and mutually beneficial relationships is key. Not only for our own well-being and survival but also for the proper functioning of society. With the challenge of different languages and cultures to manage, it’s clear that a better understanding of how to communicate is essential.
Whether we are giving a formal presentation, having a difficult conversation with a friend, or even developing a marketing strategy, we need to be aware of what message we want to share. With the ability to share information at the click of a button, it’s now even more important to develop this kind of awareness. This can prevent any miscommunications or faux pas.
Depending on what industry you work in, or what role you perform, you might engage in a varied combination of verbal, non-verbal and written activities, as well as listening. Regardless of exactly how you categorise each type of interaction, it’s important to be aware of what goes into each one, no matter how many people you are talking to.
Examples of interpersonal communication
In an education setting, for example, it’s critical that the educator is able to present information to learners effectively. Whether this takes place in a formal classroom setting, or online, there needs to be an awareness of how to impart knowledge through the spoken word.
Non-verbal cues also need to be considered, for example, gestures and body language need to help convey the message, and invite learners to partake in the conversation. Lack of eye contact, for example, can lead to a loss of interest. This can also affect the relationship with a facilitator in the long term.
To engage with learners outside of the classroom, a teacher or facilitator needs to have the written skills to share course information. This includes details such as assignment deadlines. All these interactions can be shared on a virtual interface, online learning platform, via email or text message.
Listening is also a critical element of a learner-teacher relationship, as both need to hear and take in the information that is shared in order for the course to be successful. This is also key to helping learners meet the course requirements.
The above represents a traditional exchange of information within a classroom or online learning session. It doesn’t take into account the plethora of potential exchanges between learners and teachers, or even between the learners and peers . It also doesn’t take into account the potential for miscommunication or conflict, which are both unfortunate realities of people not being able to read each other’s minds!
With social media and various other platforms, the potential for interpersonal communication is also vast and overwhelming. This means that honing our interpersonal skills is now more crucial than ever before.
How to improve your soft skills
When developing any kind of soft skill, you can read books or take short courses online. But, the most important part of developing interpersonal skills is to put these into practice. This can be overwhelming and scary for some. Especially for those who might be shy, sensitive, or who suffer from social anxiety.
However, there are many ways that you can still improve your skills in a manageable way. One way is to study various theoretical approaches, which people have been developing for hundreds of years! From the greatest philosophers and academics to popular marketing experts online, there is more information available on how to communicate than ever before.
The development of online learning platforms has also made it much more accessible to learn about these kinds of topics online. While you can take many informal online short courses, you can also sign up for specialised short courses. These will not only help you build your skills in practice but add to your list of formal academic qualifications.
Study interpersonal communication with SACAP Global
At SACAP Global, we offer a variety of online short courses in interpersonal communication and human behaviour. These can help you to get a thorough understanding of how to develop useful soft skills in both a personal and professional setting.
Whether you’re looking to build better relationships in the workplace or in your personal life, this understanding can have a profound impact on your life and the way you engage with others. We host our short courses on OpenLearning. It is a social learning platform where you can put your newfound skills into practice immediately. All on a user-friendly interface.
Your skills will undoubtedly grow quickly from when you first start upskilling and understanding human behaviour, we offer both an introductory and advanced short course. This includes Effective Interpersonal Communication and Advanced Interpersonal Communication. The content of both will make sure you have the right opportunities to expand your knowledge and practical skills. .