Interpersonal communication is the process of face-to-face exchange of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and emotions between two or more people. This includes both verbal and nonverbal elements of personal interaction.
Interpersonal effectiveness refers to the skills which help us to:
- Attend to relationships
- Balance priorities versus demands
- Balance the ‘wants’ and ‘shoulds’
- Build a sense of mastery and self-respect
Two main interpersonal skills include communication and the ability to empathize with others. In addition, skills like patience, listening, conflict resolution, self-awareness, and negotiation are a part of interpersonal effectiveness.
People lacking interpersonal effectiveness skills:
- Have difficulty relating to others as they have “rough-around-the-edges” personalities.
- Have an approach to people that tends to “chill” the transaction.
- May be arrogant, insensitive, distant, unapproachable, impatient, too intense, too quick to get to the agenda, and/or too busy to pay attention.
- May devalue others and dismiss their contributions, demonstrating a lack of respect.
- Fail to listen and instantly jump in with their opinions, solutions, and conclusions.
- Are overly directive and sharply reactive toward others. Often tell others what to do. Are unable to “read” other people and don’t take the time to build rapport.
Therapy & Interpersonal Effectiveness
The foundation of interpersonal skills is emotional intelligence, or EI. That is, being aware of your thoughts, actions, and feelings, and of your impact on others, and the ability to sense others’ moods and needs. The good news is that this can be developed over time. A mental health professional can help you hone in on these skills. You can learn to:
- Improve your communication skills
- Manage differences
- Manage agreement
- Maintain your integrity