The skills that you need for good interpersonal communication differ according to the situation in which you want to communicate.
Some people find it difficult to start or continue conversations even with friends; others will need to deliver seminars and get their points across on subjects an audience is unfamiliar with; others will need to organize and communicate within a large organization, to people both above and below them in the company hierarchy as well as fellow managers on their level. That is only a small selection of the different situations in which one might need interpersonal skills.
However, whatever the situation, interpersonal communication articles will all tell you that both listening and speaking are important.
Listening skills might include:
1. Giving the other person time to speak without butting in with whatever it is that you want to say. That way you will put them at ease and you ma well learn something;
2. if you don’t let them talk you have no chance to learn from them and you are then giving a lecture, not communicating.
3. Not finishing other people’s sentences. You’re not a mind reader and so it can be seen as rather rude to finish off other people’s sentences. Let them tell you themselves.
4. Really actively listening to the person’s words so that you understand the full meaning of what they are trying to say. If you are busy wit other tasks or the TV or some other distraction, you are not listening as well as you might.
5. Maintaining a comfortable level of eye contact to put the other person at ease.
6. Adapting your body language to demonstrate that you are listening and that you really understand what is being said; for instance, making sure that you are nodding and smiling in the right places and adopting an appropriate posture.
7. Concentrating full on the moment and picking up on the mood of the person who is speaking as well as the actual words they are using.
Those listening skills will really benefit you in all your interpersonal communications, no matter what the purpose or who you are trying to communicate with. Some speaking skills are generic too, and therefore useful in all communication:
1. Speak clearly so that your words can be understood. Quite often people will be too embarrassed to ask you to repeat yourself so you need to take the responsibility for being as clear as possible.
2. Use a vocabulary that can be understood by your listeners. Interpersonal communication is about being understood; it is not about showing off how wide your vocabulary is or how many long words you know.
3. Use an appropriate pace and volume. You can’t be heard, you can’t be understood or effectively communicate anything.
4. Make your call to action clear so that your listeners know what you want them to do.
5. Check people’s understanding. Don’t probe, but you could ask questions to check your audience’s understanding, or if you feel that your audience knows you well enough and will tell you if they don’t understand anything or have a question to ask, you could invite questions.
Although interpersonal communication articles can help you through all of these basic skills and more they are are no replacement for the real thing and what you need is practice, practice, practice and hopefully you will enjoy that.
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: communication skills
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