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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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