Improving Interpersonal Communication Skills

December 29, 2015

Hi and welcome to this video. In this video I want to talk about interpersonal communication skills. Communication becomes effective when each of us takes control of our conversations. Therefore, to have effective conversations means to be effective at communication. This is what I do with my coaching clients. I work with my coaching clients to create effective conversations through an Ontological Coaching approach.

Communication has a non verbal as well as a verbal component. The verbal skills include the speech acts and knowing which of the six speech acts are used in conversations.

Additionally, the non verbal communication skills include the body dispositions as well as the emotions. When these two components are understood and practised, communication and conversations become more effective.

Interpersonal Communication Skills

According to Wikipedia interpersonal communication happens when there are two or more people in the conversation. That’s obvious, isn’t it?

Another component of interpersonal communication is that a message is successfully transmitted from somebody who speaks to somebody who listens. It could be a boss talking to their employees. Or it could be a parent talking to their children. Or it could be friends on a football team talking to each other and getting things done.

Successful interpersonal communication requires somebody to speak and it requires one or more people to actually listen to what is spoken and act upon that.

What I’ve just described are three of the speech acts: requests, offers and promises.

This takes care of the bulk of our everyday conversations where we ask for help or we offer help to other people. And these requests and offers are acted on through promises (or commitments) to take action. This part is easy because a lot of us understand the verbal part of communication skills.

Non Verbal Communication Skills

The non verbal part of communication skills have to do with the body, which corresponds to body language and our physiological dispositions which are essentially the shape of our bodies. An additional component to non verbal communication skills are the emotions.

The claim is that we as human beings are in one or more emotions at any given moment of our day. However we may not be aware what emotion we are in.

The emotion of happiness will create a range of physiological responses than the emotion of anger, or fear, or excitement. Depending on the emotion you bring to your conversations, you will have different results when you speak to your boss, your family, your friends or even other members within your community.

The emotion of anger in your communication has a range of possibilities of actions and responses to a particular request or offer. In a similar way, the emotion of excitement in your communication will have other possibilities.

Learning to improve your interpersonal communication skills requires that you understand both the verbal components of communication as well of the non verbal components of communication.

Verbal Communication Skills

Since a lot of us do many things intellectually the best approach I found is to focus on things in an intellectual way. I invite my coaching clients to use their skills, experience and knowledge of learning to understand what exactly is spoken.

And that means focusing in on the speech acts and understanding what verbal communication is about. If we cannot actually articulate very clearly what it is that we want, or how it is that we will be satisfied, conversations and communication become ineffective.

The speech acts are:

  • Requests
  • Offers
  • Promises
  • Assertions
  • Assessments
  • Declarations

I explain each of these speech acts briefly in two videos, Communication Skills Part 1 and Communication Skills Part 2.

Improving Interpersonal Communication Skills

I invite you to consider that the key to improving your interpersonal communication skills is to continue to practise and make distinctions about which speech acts you use when you are in conversations.

Inviting somebody for dinner is a request. Congratulating somebody by taking them out to dinner involves two speech acts. The speech act of declaration is giving congratulations and taking them out to dinner is the offer. In either of these two cases the recipient will promise or make a commitment to either accept or reject the offer and request.

And these according to Wikipedia constitutes a successful communication when the message is sent and the message is received. The key is to know which of the speech acts you activate in your conversations and whether or not they serve your goals.

I want to take a few moments to ask you to notice recent conversations you had. It is probably easier if the memory is within the last 24 hours or so.

  • What speech acts do you believe were present?
  • What was the emotion you were in?
  • What was the emotion of the listener(s)?
  • How would you describe the shape of your body?
  • How do you describe the shape of the listener(s)?
  • In your assessment, how effective was that conversation?
  • Were you satisfied with the outcome?
  • How would you improve future interactions?

I hope this was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments about improving interpersonal communication skills, please share them below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and I’ll see you in the next video. Take care and see you soon.