Sunday, February 8, 2015

Skilled interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication (IPC) is central to our daily routines. It is essential to our survival and happiness. Communication is the exchange of thoughts, opinions or information using speech, signals or writing. Communication may serve a variety of purposes – for example to learn, to relate, to help, to influence or to play. We communicate to develop identities, establish and build relationships, coordinate efforts with others, have impact on issues that matter to us and work out problems and possibilities. Studies have shown that most people spend between 80 and 90 percent of their waking hours communicating with others. Experts tell us that 70-80 percent of our working time is spent in some kind of communication. Communicating inter-personally is a ‘way of life’ in organizations. Effective communication is an important element of success for every organization, leader, manager, supervisor and employee.John Powell said, “Communication works for those who work at it.”

Meaning of communication

The word communication comes from the Latin communicare, which means ‘to make common’ (Weekley 1967) or ‘to share’. The word interpersonal is derived from the prefix inter, meaning ‘between’ and the word person; Interpersonal communication (IPC) literally occurs between people. Interpersonal communication is an exchange of information between two or more people. Information is conveyed as words, tone of voice and body language. Studies have shown that words account for 7 percent of the information communicated. Vocal tone represents 55 percent and body language 38 percent.

Defining  interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication (IPC) is defined as the process that we use to communicate our ideas, thoughts and feelings to another person (Wikipedia).
Interpersonal communication is the process by which people exchange information through verbal and non-verbal messages.

Elements of communication

The elements of communication include purpose (why a message is communicated), audience (who is listening to the message), vehicles (the means used to deliver the message), and barriers (outside forces that keep an audience from listening).
Purpose – know what the real purpose of the message (e.g. to persuade or inform);
Audience –know your audience and adapt your message to their particular needs;
Vehicle – choose the best medium (e.g. a report, personal conversation or presentation) for conveying your message;
Barriers –troubleshoot or present possible communication barriers.
All communication has both a purpose and audience. The purpose may be to describe a situation, explain a procedure or persuade someone. An audience is one or more readers or listeners. A communication vehicle is the medium through which something is transmitted, expressed or accomplished. There are many of them e.g. verbal, written and visual. There may be distractions and interruptions. 

Communication model

Effective communication begins with first understanding how the communication process works. The sender-message-channel-receiver model describes the communication process.  In 1949, Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver published the transmission model of communication. This model had five components:
  •  An information source, which produces a message;
  • A transmitter, which encodes the message into signals;
  • A channel to which signals are adapted for transmission;
  • A receiver, which decodes the message from the signal and
  • A destination, where the message arrives.

Characteristics of interpersonal communication (Hartley 1999)

  • Communication is from one person to another.
  • Communication is face-to-face. 
  • Both the form and the content of the communication reflect the personal characteristics of the individuals as well as their social roles and relationships.

Forms of interpersonal communication

Communication is more than just verbal. Verbal communication involves all aspects of language: words, style, grammar, content, pitch, volume, tone, pronunciation, pace, timing and the clarity and the use of voice. Non-verbal cues are very important in communication. Non – verbal communication is what we say with our body. It includes physical-facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, body posture and motions and positioning within groups. It may also include the way we dress, our silence and other mannerisms. Researchers have estimated that approximately 7 percent meaning is transmitted by words, 38 percent is transmitted by vocal cues and 55 percent is transmitted by body cues.

Principles of interpersonal communication

There are ten principles of interpersonal communication:
1. Interpersonal communication is inescapable-we cannot keep ourselves away from communication.
2. Interpersonal communication is irreversible – it is rightly said that a word uttered once cannot be taken back.
3. Interpersonal communication is contextual – communication does not take place in isolation. They are context specific.
4. Interpersonal communication involves ethical choices – ethics refers to a set of principles or rules for correct conduct. As you respect yourself and your ideas and feelings in ethical communication, you must honour those of others.
5. People construct meanings in interpersonal communication – meanings reside not in words alone, but rather in how we interpret them.
6. Meta-communication affects meanings –meta-communication is communication about communication. Metacommunication may be verbal or nonverbal. It can increase understanding.
7. Interpersonal communication develops and sustains relationships- IPC is the primary way we use communication to develop and sustain relationships.
8. Interpersonal communication is not a panacea – although communication is powerful and important, it is not a cure-all.
9. Interpersonal communication effectiveness can be learned – effectiveness in IPC can be learned through committed study and practice of principles and skills.
10. Interpersonal communication is complicated – no form of communication is simple due to the number of variables involved.

Importance of interpersonal communication

On a fundamental level, interpersonal communication plays an important role in fulfilling several basic human needs like the need to belong, the need for competence and the need for autonomy (Baumeister and Leary 1995). Communication can move communities, influence cultures and change history. It can motivate people to take stand, consider an argument or purchase a product. Competence in oral communication is a prerequisite to student’s academic, personal and professional success in life. Good communication is important in maintaining relationship in family and with friends. Strong communication skills are vital to effective management. Effective communication is very helpful in workplace where we need to interact with different types of people. In general most communication in the workplace is to either convey information or persuade co-workers (or supervisors) about a course of action.

Skilled interpersonal communication

According to Hargie (2011) communication is a form of skilled performance. Skilled interpersonal communication improves individual and group outcomes in life and work. Skills needed for interpersonal communication are self awareness, control over oneself, speaking clearly and pleasantly, good manners and etiquettes, active listening, understanding of non-verbal behaviour and feedback.
Active listening – Listening is the cornerstone for good communication and is often the least developed skill. To listen demands an active effort to search and understand the meaning of what is said. The active listener listens intently with the aim of empathizing with the speaker.
Focus attention – the first requirement for good listening is to pay attention to be completely focused on the speaker. Listen intently and avoid any distractions. Show your are paying attention with eye contact and non-verbal indicators.
Reflect content and feelings – Use your own words to paraphrase the message to check your understanding of what the speaker is saying. Acknowledge the feelings you hear behind the speaker’s message.
Effective questioning – Ask permission to ask questions. It is a good step toward building trust and will allow a more honest, straight forward, free flowing exchange of information. Questioning the speaker helps to obtain more information and to clarify an earlier point.
Assertion – assertiveness is the ability to confront someone in a non-aggressive and non –manipulative manner.
Giving feedback – Feedback is returning output of information based upon input received by another. When communicating, you must learn to be effective both in the way you receive feedback from others and the way you tell others what you think of their ideas.

Uses of interpersonal communication

  • Furnish, gather and understand information.
  • Develop acquaintances and preserve personal relationships.
  • Influence the stances and conduct of others.
  • Make decisions and solve problems.
  • Establish an identity with others.
  • Satisfies your four needs: physical, practical, social and ego.
                        All communication has both a purpose and an audience,

1 comment:

  1. Syntax:
    Interpersonal Communication Skills

    Really good explanation and we can learned a lot about interpersonal skills from this log.