Interpersonal communication is verbal or nonverbal messages we communicate with another person. Whether we like it or not, we all have to engage in some kind of interpersonal communication pretty much every day. The only possible way to avoid it is through a very intentional effort to completely isolate ourselves. And thanks to the interconnected world we live in, such a hermit lifestyle is getting more and more difficult to attain.
Therefore, being good at interpersonal communication is a necessary skill to have in all of our day to day lives.
In this post, we’ll go through six tips you can easily incorporate for better interpersonal communication. Three of them have to do with things you do while the other three are related to things you say.
Keep in mind that these tips are not exclusive to face to face in-person interactions. They also apply to various forms of electronic communication.
Interpersonal Communication Tips
- Avoid Negative Body Language: You can say a lot in your body language. This includes facial expressions, posture, gestures, and eye contact. Lack of eye contact, not directing your feet and body toward someone as they’re speaking, and showing no change in facial expression are all indicators of disinterest.
- Use Positive Body Language: On the opposite end of the body language spectrum are things you can do more of that have generally positive connotations. Things like leaning forward, nodding, eye contact, and fully directing your posture toward the other person as they speak denotes interest, endearment, and general liking. But remember, there’s a fine balance even for positive body language indicators. When they’re overdone two things can happen. You come off appearing disingenuous and the other person might start to feel uncomfortable. Perhaps intimidated.
- Actively Listen: Listening actively kind of falls in line with the previous tip of positive body language. If you’re actively listening, then the aspects of positive body language should naturally follow. However, active listening is a whole separate action of itself. While body language is physical, this is a mental action. Sometimes we’re already thinking about what we’re going to say next as someone is speaking. So our response doesn’t even align with what they just said. We’re not actively listening.
- Avoid Interruption: Habitually interrupting while another person’s speaking can send the message that you don’t respect them or you’re not at all interested in what they have to say. You can send the opposite message by simply being more aware of interruptions and waiting for them to finish, all the while actively listening.
- Repeat Back: Repeating something someone says and saying things like: “What I’m hearing you say is…” or “Basically you’re saying that…” is another communication tip. This also applies to repeating what is shown, not just what is said. In other words, how someone might be feeling. For example, “You’re not happy,” or “I understand, you’re frustrated.” By repeating what someone says or feels (exactly or paraphrased), it shows them you’re paying attention and value their words and feelings. In addition, it can also help clarify things and avoid possible misunderstandings.
- Ask Questions: Similarily, asking questions also indicates you’re paying attention and value what a person’s saying. Just be sure to ask relevant thoughtful questions. Asking random unrelated questions is not the goal here.
Not everyone is good at communicating well, which is unfortunate because both verbal and nonverbal communication play a big role in our relationships. So having these simple tips in mind can not only strengthen our communication but also our ability to build relationships that are more connected.