By its very definition, interpersonal communication refers to the exchange of information between two or more individuals. What lies within this are two facts – there must at least two parties involved and both should be participating. Most of the times, there lies an objective behind such an exchange.
When we talk about ‘interpersonal communication skills’, we need to know what makes it important. As already mentioned, there lies an objective which initiates communication most of the times and that objective needs to be fulfilled. Provided the fact that all human beings are born unique and have their own thinking processes and identities, it becomes essential that the message is presented clearly and does not end up being misinterpreted.
If we look closely, we shall find interpersonal communication to be of two types – planned and unplanned. Planned ones are those where a participant can practise the delivery of information in order to get it done in the best possible manner, keeping in mind the context, degree of formality required and all other aspects. An example would be an interview. On the other hand, unplanned communication happens without a prior notice and sometimes can be urgent too, hence requiring great skills in the language and the ability to effectively produce it. For example, a new employee having a conversation with his co-workers at the new office. Also, since such a conversational exchange is never planned or practised in advance, possibilities of miscommunication exist. Exactly here, a person’s interpersonal communication skills play an crucial role.
Let’s take the organizational perspective now. Every business has a functional area around which all of its operations revolve. On a daily basis, it sees a huge volume of transactions and processes being undertaken, all of which involve a great deal of communication at various levels. Let us now have a look at the various events of interpersonal communication at work:
A business meeting where all the attendees are putting forth their ideas
A manager trying to understand the inconsistencies in a particular project from a subordinate
A small group of co-workers discussing about their favorite things
A salesperson trying to pitch in a product to a potential customer
Personnel from customer support trying to understand customer grievance
A group discussion where some participants agree while other disagree on a particular idea
The possibilities are infinite. It can be established that no matter whether it is a planned or an unplanned kind of communication, the interpersonal communication skills will definitely prove advantageous for the following reasons:
With developed interpersonal skills comes the ability to influence and convince people. This, for sure, brings in a lot of business.
Chances of being misinterpreted are lesser and hence there are less
deviations from the objectives set.
There is a very clear exchange of information which, in turn, leads to effective fulfilment of short-term or long-term goals.
By laying down the information in the most appropriate and desired/contextual way, such skills save a lot of time and leave a positive impression every time.
The facts mentioned above make it very desirable for organizations to opt for corporate training. Before digging deeper, we need to recollect all the modes of interpersonal communication in the world today. We shall find two categories – in-person and virtual. In both, we have written and spoken means of communicating. Following are examples of each kind:
In-person and spoken – meeting held in office with the team where everyone is physically present and contributing with valuable data and feedback
In-person and written – (although less popular these days) a hand-written application to the manager made by an employee which needs approval
Virtual and spoken – an interactive zoom meeting to plan and allot tasks to every member of the team
Virtual and written – an e-mail to the HR mentioning an inaccuracy in the payslip
Written form of communication gives one the liberty to reflect upon the choice of words and the structure of communication. One can deliberate and make necessary changes before the final delivery of the message. The spoken means of interpersonal communication is, however, very spontaneous and requires a lot of skills, apart from a great presence of mind. A sad truth is that something once said cannot be undone.
How can we be better at interpersonal communication when it comes to speaking? Of course, this feat cannot be attained overnight. It requires time, patience and a good deal of learning. While developing the written communication skills would emphasize more on grammar standards, contextual vocabulary and usage of formal sentence structures, the speaking part lies more on the usage of appropriate terms, fillers, fluency and tone or voice modulation.
Is it really important to develop this skill for business purposes? Even though it’s not compulsory, it is beneficial to a great extent. As mentioned earlier, if you want the work environment to be very healthy, effective, developing and free of conflicts, you should definitely consider including this in corporate trainings.
To understand the reach of such skills, it is important to note that interpersonal communication also includes the following:
These four components of interpersonal communication are not taught in schools. We either acquire them or simply never pay any attention to them.
So, if you are still considering interpersonal communication skills training as inessential for corporate training, you may need to think again!