the Interpersonal Communication Skills

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Interpersonal Communication Skills

Interpersonal communication skills are everyday abilities used to connect and engage with others, both in groups and individually. They refer to all of the skills that a person employs when engaging in face-to-face conversation with one or more individuals. Developing interpersonal communication skills is also a critical component of improving relationships and careers.

Understanding the Seven Major Elements of the Contact Mechanism

Understanding the seven major elements of the contact mechanism is important for strengthening communication skills. These include the sender (the one who conveys the message), ideas (topic/subject), the means of communication, and the recipient (receiver), creating symbols to communicate the message (encoding), feedback (ensuring the understanding of the message by the receiver), and decoding (breaking down the encoded message to derive meaning).

Overcoming Barriers through Strong Self-Concept and Audience Understanding

Self-concept is the ideas a person has regarding him or herself. They could be racial identity, physical characteristics, academic mind, or even sexual preferences. Our identity or perception of self may make conversations strained or easy-going. Imagine a situation where homosexuals are trying to address people they consider homophobic. The conversation will definably be tenser than when they have it with their fellow same-sex guys. An African-American may talk comfortably to his fellow people of color but might not with other Caucasians. That is because a person feels uncomfortable regarding the cultural or racial environment. For a person to have an effective interpersonal skill, there is the need to overcome this barrier. That can be done through the knowledge and understanding of the audience/receiver. Having strong self-concepts will also help. In that situation, one can have a conversation with anyone at any time. Nothing makes such people feel out of place; they thrive in any social settings.

The Importance of Perceptions in Communication

Perceptions are the process by which the receivers assess information from their environment. Perceptions greatly affect how people make communication with each other. People interpret the same message differently. They also develop stereotypes. Lastly, they attribute explanations to certain events. The sender must work on the following issues that affect perceptions. The first one is past experiences. The second one is the culture of the audience. The third crucial factor is to understand the individual's present emotional state. The fourth is the physiology which the sender has little control over.

The Role of Effective Listening in Interpersonal Communication

One cannot have effective communication without effective listening. Without active listening, messages are misunderstood, and communication breaks down. To improve on interpersonal skills, one must shun bad habits and skills that lead to ineffective listening. Some traits of weak listening include sudden change of topic. Further, there is selective listening, like thinking when you have heard the most important points or have a gist of what the speaker wants to say. Daydreaming also leads to ineffective listening. Advising the sender or jumping early into the conversation before fully understanding the problem or concerns of the speaker is an additional challenge. Other general signs or habits of inattention are the lack of eye contact with the communicator, inappropriate posture, fidgeting, doodling, and other forms of distraction, inappropriate expressions, and lack of head nods. Further, prejudice, judgments, preoccupation, having closed mind, sympathy rather than empathy, trying to listen to more than one conversation, and finding the communicator attractive/unattractive all hinder effective communications.

The Impact of Language Barriers on Interpersonal Communication

Everybody uses language to communicate. This method applies even to those with speech impairments who use sign language and braille to pass information. The barrier in language leads to misinterpretations and misunderstandings. There are no effective interpersonal communication skills when there is a language barrier. Some of the barriers in language include the difference in language and regional accents, dialects, and pidgin. It is hard, for example, for an American to communicate with a Chinese without understanding the other person's language. The word "ham" and "bacon" are used interchangeably in Scotland, but they are different in England. Some non-verbal cues are also different in parts of the world. The gesture of "Yes" might mean "No" in other places.

The Challenges of Non-Verbal Communication in Interpersonal Communication

Non-verbal communication can cause a problem in the communication process. It is based on observations, and such observations can be wrong. Non-verbal communication does not express emotions, therefore resulting in a lack of identity and empathy leading to ineffective listening. They are also not useful when addressing some disadvantaged groups, like the blind and those with High Functioning Autism or Asperger's syndrome. Further, some non-verbal gestures mean different things in different regions of the world.

Resolving Inconsistencies in Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Verbal and non-verbal communication need to rely on the same message. However, sometimes inconsistencies can arise. The ways to resolve communication problems caused by verbal and non-verbal communication are, therefore, imperative. Recognition of the problem of verbal and non-verbal communication is the step in solving it. One needs to be aware if his/her mind is jumping to conclusions or if the face is giving away their thoughts. Secondly, defer having meaningful conversations if you are unwell or under stress. One needs to be attentive to inconsistencies. There is a need to give full attention to the communicating partner through, for example, eye contact, maintenance of open and relaxed posture, and leaning slightly toward the other person.

Effective Intercultural Communication

For effective intercultural communication, there must be motivation and a shift in consciousness and the identity of self on the part of the person communicating. Apart from the hybridization of self and identity, there must be efforts to avoid communication dissonance. There are three crucial steps to becoming an intercultural communicator. One is to become transcultural. The next step is to ask oneself what preconceived ideas and notions about other people's culture exist that hinder the communication process. One also has to know whether these notions are negative or positive ones. In addition, there is a need for identification of their sources and what communication tools to use to try to create positive communication. The other step is to let go any ethnocentric feelings (the feeling that your culture is superior to the other). The last step is to simplify the meaning of culture, to understand individual's communities, and to communicate with them in a way that is acceptable and appreciated.

Models and Theories of Interpersonal Communication

Knapp's relation development model has two phases, each with five steps that all must be fulfilled. The phases of coming together are initiation, experimentation, integration, and bonding. The phases of coming apart are differentiating, circumscribing, stagnation, avoidance, and termination. In an interpersonal relationship, Casper describes the Social Exchange Theory where 'give' and 'take' form the basis, and each party has expectations of the other. Charles and Richard have the Uncertainty Reductions theory to explain situations where strangers meet and go through several stages to reduce the level of uncertainty. The social penetration theory explains that relationships develop and become intimate as people known each other.

Maintenance of Healthy Interpersonal Relationships

Maintenance of healthy interpersonal relationships involves avoiding barriers to effective communication. That is a general statement. Building and maintenance of healthy interpersonal relationships require certain things given below. First, there is the need to listen and understand the sender. Second is to attend to the little thing that matters. Keeping commitments also play an important role in ensuring a healthy relation. The fourth way is to clarify expectations so that the relationship is targeted. In addition to the above, personal integrity is crucial even in interpersonal relationships. There is a need to apologize when you make relationship withdrawals. The apology must be sincere. Establishment of win-win relationships where the needs of both parties are catered to ensure a healthy relationship as there will be no conflicts. Moreover, be assertive and use "I" messages to have a healthy interpersonal relationship. Lastly, use all the practical communication skills that are already highlighted.

Methods of Conflict Resolution in Interpersonal Communication

In the methods of conflict result, three methods will be considered. They include interactive problem-solving, integrative bargaining, and distributive bargaining. In distributive bargaining, there is usually a conclusion by each that expresses their preferences on how to tackle the differences. The aim is agreement-oriented. The integrative model focuses on the interests of the parties. On the other hand, the interactive model gives a needs-basis approach. The integrative model utilizes a different approach to achieve maintenance of a functional relationship between parties. It is also agreement-oriented. The interactive model facilitates creative joint problem-solving based on the in-depth understanding of the cause and dynamics of conflict. In it, there is no expectation that a binding solution will be reached by the end of the conversation. This model is the best approach that most people use.

Creation of a Supportive Communication Climate

The way people feel about each other creates a communication climate which refers to the relation as shown by the verbal and non-verbal messages. In a supportive environment, people hold a conversation with courtesy and confidence. For one to have improved interpersonal skills, there is a need for the creation of a supportive communication climate. Empathy (willingness to be involved) is a way of creating a supportive climate. Additionally, non-judgmental presentation of perceptions will help achieve that. Problem orientation and spontaneity are ways to create a supportive environment. Problem orientation refers to mutual definition and solving problems through collaboration. Spontaneity in this context refers to freedom from hidden agendas or other deceptions. Another way to create a supportive environment is through equality and tentativeness (willingness to mutually seek alternative points of action). Self-disclosure and the creation of a win-win approach to the conversation is the last final way of developing a supportive communication climate.


Conclusively, interpersonal communication skills are needed in our daily lives. The communicator must have a strong self-concept and understand how perception and language affect communication. One also needs to be an efficient and active listener. There must be an appropriate use of non-verbal techniques that are consistent with spoken words. Many people prefer the use of an interactive strategy for the resolution of conflicts in communication.


Kasper, G. (2016). Communication Strategies (1st ed.). [Place of publication not identified]: Routledge.

Mehrabian, A. (2007). Nonverbal communication (1st ed.). New Brunswick, NJ [u.a.]: Aldine Transaction.

Mokaya, B., Oyugi, E., Kigen, E., Gatumu, H., & Ireri, A. (2013). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Three Conflict Resolution Models in Changing Students' Intergroup Expectancies and Attitudes in Kenyatta University Kenya, 3(3), 178-184.

Rothwell, J. Dan (2013). In The Company of Others (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 227–228.

December 08, 2022

Sociology Life


Communication Love

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