Interpersonal Communication 101
Do you communicate? Yes of course you do, you’re communicating now while reading this…it might not be verbally but, you will be giving away all sorts of signs and signals.
I’m sure like me you read lots of information, blogs and other material which spout on about communication and how crucial it is to business…. I maintain it’s the main building block to any effective organization and your personal life. It needs to be a priority no matter what.
These are my Building Foundations
However, let us narrow it down a somewhat – you have your Interpersonal and your Intra-personal communication skills; these are just the basics…. I’m not going to get complicated. Just for this blog, we will stay with the Interpersonal and yes…I am sure I will digress from time to time that’s just me.
So often writers and commentators of communication tell you of the importance of the subject but do they get you to reflect on what communication is? Is it non-judgemental; non-violent; clear; effective; understood by all involved and that’s just the basics?
Mucking up Instructions…….
Think back…how often have you been given instructions, nodded to affirm you’ve understood and then completely cocked up because you didn’t understand! How often have you given instruction or information to others (think children/partners here and even colleagues) only to find out later they have put the teapot in the cupboard rather than the teabags from the cupboard in the teapot….oh dear something so simple gets lost in translation.
Having lived with a very bright Aspergers for 34 years, I have had thousands of communication blips, like the day I said I would have the unwanted salad with my curry – that’s what I got – salad straight into the curry – it was a very strange mix….
Not the best mix….
Even Communication has a formula
A formula for excellent communication is understanding what you have been asked to do or be clear about what you have asked someone else to do:
“The transfer of a thought, idea, instructions or information to someone else ………………
………………so they have THE SAME UNDERSTANDING of that thought, idea, instructions, and information as you do.
The Transmission of…………..Ideas, feelings, information, instructions – From the mind of one person to the mind of another without loss or distortion!”
SIMPLES……. But is it?….No, not at all , it’s downright hard coz so much crap gets in the way.
The Brain bombarded with communication.
Blocks to your Communication…
Therefore consider what are you Interpersonal Communication Skills like? Mine, depend on what side of the bed I get out in a morning or lunchtime; they could change if it’s raining…but what I try to do is watch what I say before I say it…do you?
Here’s a quick quiz should you like to give it a go….. Link to quiz….
I used to go straight in for the kill in my younger days, right for the jugular. These where the behaviours demonstrated by my role models in business and education…now I am so aware they were just bullies and did copious amounts of damage.
Let’s give some thought to this necessary skill/competence we need;
How do we communicate effectively? Basically:
- Non-verbal communication
All have their plus and minus – I find text gets lost in translation for me and sometimes Facebook communication – and it’s also dependent on others learning styles too. so what about you?
We need to remember that depending on which research you read, Non-Verbal Communication makes up between 65%/75% of what you ‘say’ and this is communicated through non-verbal expressions (more on this later.) – this includes; gestures, dress; touch; posture; Paralinguistics; Proxemics; eye contact; facial expressions. They all play a huge part in how communication is received.
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
At times we find that we cannot communicate effectively, that our message is not getting across, that we cannot understand or be understood. We need to be aware of what can get in the way of effective communication. Physical problems such as poor hearing and eyesight are obvious barriers, which need to be sensitively handled; similarly, challenges arising from speech disorders which need effort and good listening skills.
Range of Barriers to being Effective
However, there are other less obvious barriers to effective communication. For instance, if we are tired, ill or depressed, it is harder to say what we mean. You would need to beware of this and try to overcome others issues with patience and tact. But just as important and probably harder to overcome are the barriers arising from prejudice , discrimination and stereotyping. One needs to be aware of these potential problem areas, which could affect the efficiency and performance of your daily lives both personally and professionally.
Consider some of the simple challenges to effective communication which may get in your way when interacting with others:
WORDS which include – Language; Dialect; Jargon
PSYCHOLOGICAL effects including – Attitudes; Emotions
PHYSIOLOGICAL state – Ill-health; Discomfort
PERCEPTUAL views – Previous Experience (our baggage); different viewpoint/values; Lack of awareness/ignorance; Age/ Gender/ Social Difference / Culture/ Faith/ Religion
ORGANISATIONAL issues – Structure; Constraints; Technology; Limits of equipment and tools to do your job.
ASK YOURSELF ‘HOW GOOD AM I AT’:
- LETTING PEOPLE FINISH
- USING ENCOURAGING PROMPTS
- TOLERATING SILENCES
- COPING WITH DIFFICULT SILENCES
- ADOPTING APPROPRIATE N.V.C
- INTERPRETING N.V.C
- BEING AUTHENTIC
- ENSURING CONGRUENCE
- ADOPTING NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION
GIVE YOU SELF A SCORE OUT OF 6 FOR EACH OF THE ABOVE – 6 BEING EXCELLENT 1 BEING I NEED TO DO SOME WORK – (check your answers with those close to you they may give you a different answer!)
So a Quick Guide to Improving Communication
Be Knowledgeable – Competent communicators understand the process intellectually and intuitively (use that gut feeling peeps). However much you know or don’t know about communication, you can improve your communication by learning more.
Be Skilled – Intellectual knowing is the basis, certainly, but is not sufficient. If you know intellectually all about riding a bicycle, if you’ve read every book there is on it, you still don’t know how to ride a bike. Like learning to operate a computer, learning to communicate involves mastering skills. You can break them down into components and practice. A good summary of this process is “hear it, see it, do it, correct it”. I have worked with Professors and Drs. who are very bright but have diabolical communication skills and no common sense!
Be Motivated – Learning anything worthwhile requires effort. To improve, you must want to improve (if you don’t want to, then why are you attempting to improve?). Without the motivation, you will never put your skills into practice, and therefore will never learn/develop them.
Be Flexible – One size does not fit all in human relations. The actual application will vary tremendously by the situation and persons involved. There are no good gimmicks that will be guaranteed to work with everyone. Be willing to adapt your behaviour according to contexts.
Be Other – Oriented – Susan Jeffers, in Dare to Connect, said, “that shy people are so because they are focused on themselves. That’s not to say they are selfish. Rather, they focus on what they want from a situation, and how others react to them.” She continued, “we approach others to feel better about ourselves.”
It takes most of the “nerves” out of communication when we learn to approach other people with the primary purpose of making them feel better about themselves. Let me emphasize that this is not of altruism or concern for the other people; it is simply the best way to lose the nerves. You serve yourself best by not focusing so much on yourself. This involves de-centring (consciously thinking about other’s thoughts and feelings) and empathizing (responding emotionally to another’s feelings).
So get out there and communicate your heart out; do it non-violently and remember to listen to what peeps are saying both verbally and non-verbally and don’t spend time thinking about formulating your answer – put them first.
Until Next time