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Interpersonal communication forms a major part of our lives. How often have you asked your colleague, “Hey, how are you doing today?” or your mother, “What’s for dinner?” or your sister, “Are you coming with me?” Well, it’s all interpersonal communication. Humans are wired in a way that we strive to connect. Without connection, our purpose gets lost. Take a moment and think. How many times did you interact today? What was it about? Was it verbal, or was it just a blink? Whatever it was, I’m sure, the number must be high. 

Humans are a social species that is hardwired to connect. Aside from food, water, and safety, the most crucial requirements we must meet, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, are love and belonging. Our yearning for interpersonal interactions, closeness, connection with others, and integration into a group are all part of this. Our general well-being increases and we live a more fulfilling life when these requirements are met. Not only this but even in the workplace, interpersonal communication forms one of the major elements of our connections. Managers constantly interact with their teammates to establish a connection and form a strong bond with their team. 

What is Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal communication is the exchange of information between two or more interdependent people either in a verbal or non-verbal format. The exchange of information includes the exchange of ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and more. In a workplace, commonly used interpersonal communication includes daily meetings, client interactions, employee communications, performance review, and team meetings. These communications occur in the form of verbal interactions, calls, meetings, virtual meetings, emails, memos, and some lunch break chats.

Features of Interpersonal communication:

  • Interpersonal communication takes place between two or more interdependent people (the action of one person has an impact on the other person) who are ‘connected’ to each other in some form. 
  • Interpersonal communication is inherently relational. This means that the communication that takes place is within a relationship and impacts the relationship.
  • Interpersonal communication includes verbal and non-verbal messages like body language, body posture, eye contact, and facial expression.
  • Interpersonal communication can be found on a spectrum ranging from impersonal to highly personal. Simple interaction between persons who don’t know each other—the waitress and the customer, for example—is at the impersonal end of the scale. The communication that takes place between two people who are intimately connected—a father and son—is at the very personal end of the spectrum.
  • Interpersonal communication involves choice. It means that we have a choice to communicate with whom we want to, what we want to communicate, what to say, and so on.

What are the Elements of Interpersonal Communication?

  1. Source‒Receiver: Interpersonal communication is the interaction between people where at least two people are involved. Each person performs both source (i.e., formulates and sends messages) and receiver functions (perceives and comprehends messages). In interpersonal communication, the term source‒receiver stresses that each individual performs both functions. The source formulates the message and the receiver comprehends the message so that the communication process is established.
  2. Encoding‒Decoding: The act of creating communications, such as speaking or writing, is referred to as encoding. Decoding, on the other hand, is the act of comprehending messages, such as through listening or reading. Encoding is the process of turning your ideas into a code, which you do by transferring them via sound waves (in the case of speech) or light waves (in the case of writing). By converting sound or light waves into concepts, you are removing them from a code, and so decoding. As a result, speakers and writers encode information, while listeners and readers decode it.
  3. Messages (Feedback‒Feedforward): The next element is the messages that signal or the stimuli for a receiver. The way we walk, the way we eat, all communicate messages about us. These messages are received via hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, or by a combination of these senses. It has two major parts, feedback and feedforward. Feedback informs the speaker of the impact she or he is making on the audience. The speaker may tweak, amend, reinforce, deemphasize, or change the substance or structure of the messages based on this input. Before delivering your principal message, you give feedforward information. The message to come is hinted at in Feedforward. The preface or table of contents of a book, magazine covers, email topic lines, and introductions in public speeches are all examples of feedforward. Feedforward can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, you could utilise feedforward to indicate your want to chat with someone, stating something like “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a week; what’s up?”
  4. Channel: Channel is the medium through which messages pass. It is the bridge that connects the source and the receiver. There are different kinds of channels of communication like face-to-face communication, email, telephones, virtual calls, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  5. Noise: Noise is defined as anything that distorts a message or stops the recipient from receiving it. There are four different types of noise. Physical noise, physiological noise (produced by barriers inside the transmitter or receiver, such as visual impairments, hearing loss, etc.), psychological noise (wandering thoughts, biases, and prejudices), and semantic noise are all examples of noise (language or dialectical differences). Noise is present in all communications. It cannot be completely eradicated, but its consequences can be minimised. To resist the effects of noise, you can improve your language abilities, strengthen your skills for delivering and receiving nonverbal messages, and improve your listening and feedback skills.
  6. Context: Context is the environment wherein communication takes place. Communication always takes place in some setting, and the context in which it occurs can have a tremendous effect on what happens. To be more precise, communication occurs inside intertwined contexts. Physical, social, historical, and cultural contexts have been defined, though a relational context could be included as well. It influences the form and the context of the message.

Importance of Interpersonal Communication in Workplace

Personal Development: Interpersonal communication skills facilitate personal development. When leaders are able to communicate well in an organisation, their interpersonal qualities like feedback, empathy, delegation, and gratitude improve, which in turn helps them develop themselves. 

Problem Solving: Problems are the part and parcel of any orgaisation. Everyday new problem comes up within a team, within projects and even in the organisation as a whole. Interpersonal communication skills help managers and leaders in solving problems. It helps them in understanding the problem and finding apt solutions. For example, if any employee is unable to complete a task in hand, good interpersonal communication skills will help the manager solve the problem by providing a tool or an exercise that is only possible with the help of communication.

Higher Productivity: According to workplace communication statistics, 86% of employees and executives blame company failures on a lack of efficient collaboration and communication. Teams that communicate effectively, on the other hand, can enhance their productivity by up to 25%. Employee productivity is directly proportional to effective interpersonal communication.

Conflict Management: 81% of the employees said that misunderstanding occurs regularly, sometimes, or occasionally in their workplace. Conflict during discussion is sometimes mistakenly regarded as invariably destructive and is to be avoided at all costs. In order to resolve conflict, interpersonal communication skills become crucial. They help the leader in formulating strategies that use communication to soften the crucial matters.

Building Trust: 99.1% want to be a part of a company that promotes open and honest communication. Trust is at the heart of relationships. We rarely develop or maintain positive relationships with people of whom we are suspicious or wary. Lack of trust forms one of the major reasons for poor management and poor performance. Employees feel that they are not a part of the organisation and their performance is highly affected. Interpersonal communication skills improve trust and workplace communication between employees and managers.

Enhance Teamwork: Employee teamwork is highly important to 37% of workers. Interpersonal communication skills help the team to coexist in a cordial manner. Jealousy, positions, salary all become minor and team becomes the major. So, interpersonal communication skills help the team exist together and enhance their productivity.

How to Become a Powerful Communicator

1. Focus on your partner

Listen to them carefully while they are communicating rather than being consumed by your own agenda. Try to participate in the conversation.

2. Engage in appropriate turn-taking

A powerful communicator always shows respect and consideration to the other person in a way they take turns. Balance your listening and speaking abilities while in a conversation. Always remember that you should let the other person speak.

3. Protect privacy

Being an effective communicator includes protecting privacy, keeping the other person’s confidence by keeping the information private, and not sharing the information with others.

4. Engage in ethical dialogues

The last rule that effective conversationalists follow is to engage in ethical dialogue. When conversational partners engage in ways that are real, empathic, confirming, present, equitable, and supporting, ethical dialogue happens. All of these qualities do not have to be present in every conversation. While it would be hurtful if your closest friends were untrustworthy, there are times when you don’t need or even want to know what people really think.

5. Pick the right kind of humor

Humorous messages are intended to make people laugh. Do you appreciate having “fun” chats that make you laugh? The majority of people do. Conversational partners may feel more united and satisfied after having a humorous chat. Laughing together can help alleviate bad emotions and foster a sense of community.

Communication is both a major determinant of human identity and a main means of expressing who we are. Interpersonal communication is the source of our sense of personal identity. We come into the world with no distinct sense of self and rely on others to define us. Learn to communicate and connect in the best possible way.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal communication is the verbal or nonverbal transmission of information between two or more interdependent people. Information exchange encompasses the interchange of ideas, thoughts, feelings, and emotions, among other things. Daily meetings, client interactions, employee communications, performance reviews, and team meetings are all examples of interpersonal communication in the workplace.

What are the Elements of Interpersonal communication?

There are six elements of Interpersonal communication that help in an effective communication channel. They are as follows:

  1. Source – Receiver 
  2. Encoding – Decoding 
  3. Messages (Feedback – Feedforward)
  4. Channel 
  5. Noise 
  6. Context

What is the importance of Interpersonal communication in Workplace?

Interpersonal communication helps an individual in many ways in a workplace. Some of them are as follows: 

  • Problem Solving
  • Higher Productivity
  • Enhance Teamwork
  • Conflict Management 
  • Building Trust

How to Become a Powerful Communicator?

  1. Focus on your partner
  2. Engage in appropriate turn taking
  3. Protect privacy
  4. Engage in ethical dialogues
  5. Pick the right kind of humour

What are some of the features of Interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal communication takes place between two or more interdependent people (one person’s activity having an effect on the other) who are ‘linked’ in some way.

Inherently, interpersonal communication is relational. This implies that communication occurs within a relationship and has an impact on the connection.

Body language, body posture, eye contact, and facial expression are examples of nonverbal and spoken interpersonal communication.