Peter Murphy asked:
Having good interpersonal communication skill is a combination of being able to say what you mean clearly and concisely, and being able to take on board opinions of others and adapt what you say accordingly, as well as making them feel they can speak freely.
To do that, you have got to be aware of your own role in the conversation and be able to manage your own attitudes and emotions so that the conversation fulfills the agenda of everyone involved and does not get heated or over-emotional if difficult topics need to be discussed.
It is not as difficult as it sounds, with just a few hints and tips:
1. Body Language
Being able to read body language and being aware of the signals you are giving to other people is probably one of the most important parts of interpersonal communication skill and yet it is often overlooked.
More than half your message is got across without even opening your mouth! Most people will never have thought about that, but their brains will instinctively process this non-verbal communication.
Your body language will really let your emotions show through, so control your anger, nerves etc so that you can speak and listen more effectively, rather than being over occupied with how you are feeling.
Do not worry, though a lot of body language is common sense. Holding eye contact for a comfortable amount of time, leaning forward and nodding occasionally are sure signs that the other person is listening to you, so be sure you give off these signals too and do not fake them!
You cannot expect to learn anything from a conversation if you do not listen to it properly. Take the time to respect what other people are saying, no matter how ridiculous they sound! There may just be a grain of sense in there and even if there is not, it is the right of everyone to hold a silly point of view!
3. Be aware of who you are speaking to
Everyone is different and you will need to tailor your communication for the different types of people you are speaking to. Make sure you use language that can be understood but which is not patronizing.
4. Diffuse situations when you can
Always try to relive the tension if someone you are talking to is feeling tense and upset or angry. Do not bite back if they make a negative or insulting comment. That will just escalate the problem.
So how do you diffuse a situation? First do not under estimate the power of a few seconds silence. It allows people to calm down, reflect and think of how they can move the conversation on more usefully. YOU may need to be the one that suggests you all take a break for a little while, to allow tensions to ease.
5. Help people out
If you can see someone is feeling awkward and seems not to know what to say, see if you can help them out, tactfully. Perhaps you may ask them a direct question that gets them started. Or if they are struggling for a specific word, perhaps you can supply some suggestions or try another question to elucidate their meaning.
This should hopefully let them know that they do not need to use fancy words to get their meaning across and allow them to relax.
Try these and you will soon feel more relaxed in conversations and be able to manage them much more effectively so you all achieve what you want to in the conversation. It is amazing how much some simple tips can help build your interpersonal communication skill.