What are interpersonal skills? – Definition and Importance

Introduction Human beings communicate at various levels. Interpersonal communication is defined as all communications that we share with other fellow human beings.

What are interpersonal skills? – Definition and Importance


Human beings communicate at various levels. Interpersonal communication is defined as all communications that we share with other fellow human beings. Even as professional individuals, our success or failure is marked by effective communication. It is through interpersonal communication that information is distributed or shared among people. It is through interpersonal skills that important decisions are taken, shared, and made known to people within and outside organizations as a team. 

We not only converse with our peers, batchmates, colleagues but also with our employers and clients. Communication is one thing we all humans share in common with each other.  Can you imagine a world where there is no communication? You can’t right? This itself proves you what an integral part of our overall lives; personally and professionally, it is. Our formal conversations are shorter in duration as compared to our chit chats in an informal scenario. We all wish to excel in our workspace. But you need to understand that being only book smart won’t take you to higher positions. You need to be clear in your head and even when you speak. Communication is a big factor that determines your fate anywhere, be it a professional or a personal relationship. In this article, we draw emphasis on the importance of interpersonal communication in a formal setting. 

What are interpersonal skills?  

As human beings tend to be social in nature, therefore we cannot live in isolation. We need to communicate with others to survive in a society. There are various reasons for these communications such as  – personal, emotional, psychological, educational, social, financial, professional, cultural, etc. In most cases, it is the interpersonal communication that is studied academically to improve communicational skills and to become an effective communicator/speaker. 

We should be able to communicate effectively. This is necessary in order to arrive at success personally as well as professionally. Moreover, majority of the companies promote their respective products to the audience. They do so through advertisements. Thus, it becomes clear that without powerful and productive communication, or interpersonal communication, no business company can survive. 

Why interpersonal communication is essential in a workspace? 

We need to understand that communication in general, that is, between our family or friends, is stark opposite to the professional world. This is due to the reason that the entire objective of these two scenarios varies. For instance, in the modern world, there is a lot of advancement in technology. So, most of our communication happens through our mobile phones, either through phone calls or through texts. 

Now, when we speak to a loved one, we might talk about things even non-sensical for hours without any clear objective. Albeit, even to pass time or know how their day went by. This conversation can even last for hours, making the parties stronger than ever. Its more informal so to say. 

But, when we communicate in a professional environment, it is poles apart from the way we talk to our friends or family. We need to talk in a crisp, concise, logical, and a very coherent manner. This is essential to make the communication clear and informative. Suppose, when you are in office, if you fail to present your thoughts consistent and organized manner, odds are that your ideas won’t be understood and hence, not be approved. Therefore, it is important you learn how to become an effective communicator and hone your communication skills for better job opportunities or even to seek promotions in your workspace. It’s more formal in nature. 

Lack of good communication skills might be concluded as incompetence in your part to deliver your projects or responsibilities efficiently. You might be considered a hindrance. It may even lead to conflicts in the workplace and hence, cause mismanagement and others might even develop a sense of dislike for you as a colleague. 

Importance of good communication skills in the pandemic 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, that has struck the entire world by a storm, working from home has certainly become the call of action. Now that we are adjusting to the “new normal”, it’s time we embrace the work from home culture and understand how communication is becoming more and more integral for our day to day work activities. 

By now, we have understood that communication plays a significant role in our daily lives. It is only through good interpersonal skills that we fulfil our needs – cultural, financial, personal, or professional. Your interpersonal skills in an office is directly proportional to your ability to adapt and work in a corporate world. The good your interpersonal skills, the better you are at your job. 

It is totally impossible to think of a world where we are devoid of communication. By now, a question must be lingering in your mind – how to improve your interpersonal communicational skills? Read on, to know how. 

Here’s how you can grow interpersonal skills 

Keep it crisp 

Do not deflect from the main aim of the conversation. Keep it professional by restricting any kind of informal events that might be useless for the listener. Make sure its informative and the message you want to send across is mentioned without digressing from the main objective of the conversation. 

Maintain eye contact 

You know the saying “eyes speak a lot and tell you a lot”. This is in fact very true. Words become ten times more powerful. They carry more weightage when they are delivered with firm eye contact with the listener or the receiver. 

The right posture 

The way we hold ourselves, the way we walk, talk, sit or stand, changes according to the situation we are in. When one is nervous, they start fidgeting with things. Remember your posture speaks volumes for your personality and how mentally ready you are for the task, even if you have not spoken a single word out loudly. When we are talking to a person we are well familiarised with, we are not that conscious about our posture. However, one needs to learn how to present themselves to clients or people in the first encounter. For instance- 

If one is a slumped position, then it sends the message that they have low confidence and might not be ready for the task. In case, one is an erect posture, then it signifies that they are active, confident, energetic, and depicts that you are right for the work. This way you earn more projects. This also asserts an authoritative position and maintains your role as a leader. 

Even the way you keep your arms says a lot. On one hand, if you cross your arm, it seems negative, as if you are not ready to listen. On the other hand, if you have uncrossed arms, it depicts that you are willing to listen. 

Be attentive and active 

Successful communication will only be acquired if you are fully attentive and devoted to the one listening. Clarification is a key to effective communication. The smoothly you carry out the conversation the better you come across. 

Don’t be too fast 

The speed a which you speak connotes whether you are relaxed or in a hurry. It even confuses the fluency with which you carry out your conversation. 

Don’t use slangs 

Slangs are good when kept confined only to informal conversations. These are totally fine and acceptable when you are talking in a peer group. Slangs like “wanna” instead of “want to” or “gonna” instead of “going to” should definitely be avoided. Instead of using the most used word whats up, simply ask – What are you doing? It gives the wrong message, that you are not serious and may even seem immature and kiddish. 

Use the right tone and pitch 

Our non-verbal cues also play an important role. The significance of what we say depends on our delivery, tone, pitch, tempo, and volume. These elements just add more weightage to what we say. Talk in a polite manner. Make sure your voice is not shrill, it causes repulsion to the other person. Even our facial expressions showcase the intent behind us engaging in the conversation. Our face is the most expressive part of our body, and hence, they are taken as clues to decode a message. Be subtle. Remember the phrase “actions speak louder than words” and imply it in life during such scenarios. 

Don’t be an excessive chatter 

Understand the other person and read the room. You will sense an alertness that you shouldn’t keep talking. Take the right amount of pauses. Create some space for the other person to talk and speak as well. This will also save you a lot of energy, as you will get to know whether the other person is able to understand you fully or not. As its said “silence are pauses pregnant with meaning”, devote yourself to this thought. Often our silence says a lot too. 

Maintain a safe distance 

Make sure there is at least four to six feet of distance between you and the other person. The situation seems less emotional and affectionate, and more professional and formal. 

Become our Subject Matter Expert 

While understanding the importance of interpersonal communication, here’s an amazing part-time job opportunity for you. Generating a second source of income through part-time jobs can be a viable option you can consider while you are a student. This will act as a pocket money plus it will help you take your mind off those strenuous tasks you perform for a while. Teaching has proven to be a great way to gain new knowledge while imparting it. When you teach, you not only pass on the information you know and understand but you also learn a couple of new things from your students as well. Now, as a student, you would hardly have any time to go out and teach, that’s where Chegg India’s role come in. At Chegg India, you can teach at your own comfort from your home. 

Chegg India, a premier educational services firm, offers students and graduates a chance to become subject matter experts in engineering, business, health care, mathematics, sciences, etc. Chegg can act as an online learning platform where you can apply for the role of subject matter expert. Your tasks would include answering academic questions on the Question and Answer Board of the website in your area of expertise. Not only will you impart knowledge to your students, but this would also help you in learning something new. 

Final thoughts 

We humans rely a lot on oral communication. However, when it comes to communicating orally in a formal setting, we find it hard and become conscious of ourselves. Therefore, failing miserably to convey our ideas and thoughts. One needs to realise that communication is extremely crucial to deal with the ways of world and harness success professionally. One cannot think of excelling at their jobs without communication competence. 

No doubt, everyone has their own personal as well as interpersonal style when it comes to talking. While it comes naturally to some through their personality and instincts, that doesn’t mean it can’t be developed and hence, improved. There are some things that you can’t learn from textbooks. It is only through sheer confidence and continuous interactions with others that you can become better with interpersonal skills in a professional world. It may take some time but don’t you lose hope. Everyone grows and evolves and adapts to good communication skills swiftly at their own pace. 

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