Tuesday, 9 October 2012

How to develop interpersonal communication skills in the workplace

In order for a professionally organised and managed workplace, one must develop effective communication skills. Competent interpersonal skills consist of knowledge and understanding about communicating with fellow team members. We must visualise ourselves on an interpersonal skills continuum where we are constantly self-assessing our social composure and disclosure to evaluate the effectiveness of our verbal and nonverbal responses within our workplace; and to improve where necessary.

The following skills are required to communicate effectively:

1.     Refer to the person you are talking to by name. People are complimented when they know that you are making the conversation personal.  It also enables you to store this personal information into your long term memory. For example, when someone introduces themselves, reply with “hello, nice to meet you (insert name).” as next time, you shall be able to refer to them in a much more interpersonal way.

2.     Make messages specific and complete. When speaking, include all of the necessary information the receiver needs to comprehend your message. Repeating your message more than once and using other skills such as pictures and nonverbal cues will help transcend your message across.

3.     “Own statements” involve using first person singular pronouns such as: I, my, me. Ownership means taking responsibility for the ideas and feeling that you express. Be descriptive. Describe your feelings by saying: “I feel angry when…”, “I feel disappointed because…”

4.     After you have disclosed a message, you must continually ask for feedback to become aware how the receiver is interpreting and processing your message. Listen with an open mind, accepting that you have plenty to learn. If you ever have any doubts, ask the receiver questions.

5.     Avoid jumping to conclusions about what your team member is saying. Listen to the whole message or reply before you make a comment. If you ever have any doubts, ask the receiver questions or paraphrase their message to clarify the information they have just given you. Your team member will appreciate that you are listening to what they are saying.

6.     Try to control your defensiveness when communicating to team members at all times. Fear of hurting your feelings or being confronted by defensive behavior makes people hesitant to socialise and communicate with you. If you do find yourself becoming defensive, practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing and exhaling slowly.

7.     The reading of a person’s body language, such as their facial expressions, gestures and posture, is one of the most significant skills of communication. Nonverbal communication not only portrays how a person is feeling but also how they are coping with their emotion. Being able to identify the following clues may ease the process of finding the right time to confront a fellow team member. For example, a person may appear angry when: they have frowning eyebrows and mouth, clenched fists, flailing arms, slamming doors and stamping feet (Bolten 1997).

8.     Just because a team member gives you feedback, doesn’t mean their feedback is right. Check with other members to receive a different perspective of the matter and to determine the reliability of the feedback.

9.     If you are being bullied or harassed by a fellow team member, tell the person face to face how their behaviour is impacting your work and what feelings their behaviour evokes. If the team member’s actions still persists, document all confrontations and report privately to the school principal.

10.  If you are approached by a negative person and they ask for help, provide advice or ideas for how the coworker can address the reason for their negativity. Be sure that you set limits so the team member’s negativity does not overpower your energy and positive outlook. Walk away or tell them you would prefer to move onto more positive subjects.

Reference list

Bolten, R. (1997). People Skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others and resolve conflicts, Simon and Schuster, Australia
Healthfield, S. M. (2012). 10 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People at Work: Dealing with difficult coworkers, bosses and friends at work, last accessed: 28/09/2012, http://humanresources.about.com/od/difficultpeople/tp/dealing_difficult.htm
Robinson, M. (2006). How to Improve Your Interpersonal Communication Skills, last accessed: 28/09/2012, http://voices.yahoo.com/how-improve-interpersonal-communication-skills-55208.html


1 comment:

  1. Interpersonal Communication should be developed whether at home or at work.Basic interpersonal communication includes perception, intrapersonal communication, listening, language, emotions, non-verbal communication, self-disclosure, communication climate, conflict resolution, and others. Being excellent at these skills will make you excellent at being a good friend, good spouse, and good employee, boss and co-worker.