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No Matter What You Say, the First Thing People Pay Attention to Is Only How You Say It

No Matter What You Say, the First Thing People Pay Attention to Is Only How You Say It

Regardless of the communication methods that we use in the modern age, we have a tendency to focus heavily on the words that we use to interact with others.

While words are a seminal part of engaging others, however, successful interpersonal communication relies on a number of additional factors such as body language, facial expressions and the overall context that relates to each message.

If you believe that the content of your message is more important than its delivery, you are misunderstanding interpersonal communication.

In this article, we are going to delve deeper into the numerous types of interpersonal communication that exist, so that you can determine which best suits your personality and outlook as an individual.

We will also be providing you with actionable items that you can follow right away, many of which can be used to influence your interpersonal communications going forward.

There are three main types of interpersonal communication.

The following types of interpersonal communication are what most of us use every day, but we probably aren’t very aware of each of their impact on our everyday interactions.

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1. Verbal Communication: Speaking and Listening

The main and most evolved type of interpersonal communication is verbal, as this combines numerous elements such as message, tone and in some instances nonverbal cues (more on this below).

Verbal communication includes both speaking and listening, both of which contribute towards successful and progressive communications.

We can also communicate verbally across a range of channels, most typically in-person or over the phone.[1] In the digital age, we can also converse through video messaging resources like Facebook and various video messaging apps.

2. Written Communication: Writing and Texting

In many ways, written communication offers a safe haven for those who struggle to express themselves or interact openly with others. While it is possible to communicate both formally or informally in writing, this medium places a stronger emphasis on the message in question and eliminates factors such as tone and body language.

Once again, however, modern technology has created more spontaneous and accessible channels for written communication. From SMS messaging to Twitter microblogs, written communication has gradually become increasingly more diverse and real-time in its delivery.

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3. Nonverbal Communication: Gestures and Body Languages

We have already touched on nonverbal communication, which can occur whenever we interact with others in person (or through video chat). This can manifest itself in a number of different ways during real-time communication, including facial expressions, body language and related hand gestures.

This type of communication is the most difficult to interpret, as it is completely subjective and hard to observe while participating in a verbal conversation. It is also the most fascinating type of interpersonal communication, however, and one that can add context (and in some instances contradict) the words that we use.

Adapt these universal tips to improve your day-to-day communication.

With these points in mind, it is easy to understand the diverse nature of interpersonal communication. Fortunately, there are a number of actionable and universal tips that enable you to improve your interpersonal skills, including the following:

Facts are not the be-all and end-all.

While facts are a central part of any conversation, particularly in the workplace, those with superior interpersonal skills understand that they are not the only consideration. After all, you can you can spend as much time as you like researching the content and the accuracy of your facts, but this means little if you do not deliver them in a convincing and engaging manner that invokes feeling.[2]

The recent election in the U.S. provided a relevant case in point, as while Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton failed to resonate with voters despite her considered approach to interpersonal communication, her rival Donald Trump flourished amid a number of inaccurate claims and fabrications.

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This has much to do with Trump’s emotive and colloquial delivery, which appealed to many voters’s fears, insecurities and partisan biases.

There is a difference between tactile and sugar coating your message.

As anyone who has ever received bad news can testify, there is nothing worse than instances when somebody sugar coats their message. After all, on occasions where individuals are laid off from work or given bad new by doctors, those delivering the message tend to establish the tone with their nonverbal communication long before they begin to talk.

While it is important to deliver any bad news tactfully, you also have a duty to be direct and emphasize the full gravity of your message for the benefit of the listener. This avoids confusion and creates a genuine sense of understanding, while it also ensures that the listener does not feel patronized or as though you are being insincere.

Finally, consider the message, context, noise, feedback and channel when communicating with others.

While all communications start with an underlying message and the words to deliver this, you need to ensure that you consider the other elements that contribute to progressive, interpersonal communication.[3]

The first consideration outside of your message is context, particularly in terms of the the situation that you choose to communicate. This can influence how a particular message is perceived, as especially when there is a conflict between the tone of the communication (which may be formal) and the location in which it takes place (which may be informal).

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Noise and feedback are also key considerations, and you must distinguish between the two when communicating with others. Noise has a special meaning in communication theory, as it relates to anything that can distract listeners or distort the message that is being delivered. This includes complicated language, tone and conflicting body language, and it is important to minimise noise at all times.

Conversely, feedback relates to the messages that are imparted by the listener at different times, and it is crucial that you listen to and follow these as closely as possible. This allows you to determine whether or not your message has been received accurately, and if not it also delvers prompts which help you to adapt your communication style or repeat key pieces of content that may have been missed.

We have the channel that you use to deliver a particular message, as this also has a direct influence on how it is perceived. We have already touched on this when appraising alternative types of interpersonal communication, with written and verbal techniques all leveraging alternative platforms.

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

[1] Important India: Types of Interpersonal Communication
[2] Soft Skills – Ask a Wharton MBA: What is Interpersonal Communication – Definition and 3 Myths
[3] Skills You Need: What is Interpersonal Communication?

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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