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8 Simple Ways to Effective Interpersonal Communication

Oct 13, 2007
Effective interpersonal communication creates a feeling of community and intimacy where everyone's contributions are valued. It leads to proper understanding, sometimes on a deep level, depending upon the circumstances of the communication. To have really effective interpersonal communication you need to make use of a set of skills and knowledge and to evaluate these and update your communication skills from time to time.

Interpersonal communication has a dual purpose of presentation and representation. Representation is the basic words we use and the meaning we portray; people sometimes tend to think that this is all there is to communication and they forget that how they present their message defines them and their relationships with others too.

It is in this latter purpose of communication (presentation) that misunderstandings can arise. This happens when people fail to understand the message being conveyed, or when people fail to make their audience understand; both sides of this are important as the people in a conversation all carry joint responsibility in uncovering and understanding the true meaning of a communication.

Some useful skills for making sure you have really effective interpersonal communication are:

1. Refer to your listener by name. This makes people feel valued and appreciated; it also ensures that they know that you are talking specifically to them; it alerts them to that fact and encourages them to concentrate upon your message. If they are listening more closely to you, you are more likely to be understood.

2. Adapt your message to your listener(s). The message may have to be conveyed differently according to the role and status of the listener, as well as their level of understanding. Different parts of your message will hold special importance for certain groups of people so you may want to adapt your message so that these things are emphasized for a particular group. Making your message relevant to your audience is just the hook you will need to make people start listening to you.

3. The call to action may differ according to who your audience members are, because everyone has different responsibilities. If you have something that you want your audience to do after listening to you, be explicit about this; make it clear what you want them to do, without being too dictatorial about it.

4. Make sure you include all the information that is necessary in order to make yourself and your message understood. If you can repeat your message and illustrate it in different ways, so much the better, as members of your audience will all understand things in different ways.

5. Avoid jumping to early conclusions. Listen to the whole message first if you are not the one doing the main talking. If you think you have the idea of the conversation very early on, often you will find that you will switch off or at least not listen so attentively to the rest of the message and this is one area where mistakes are often made.

6. Be aware of any assumptions you are making; are they correct? Will your audience understand your assumptions or do you need to communicate to them too, for effective communication? You should always try to judge how you are being interpreted by others too. Ask questions and mirror back what people seem to be saying to you, paraphrased, so that you can check that you have the correct understanding. This also shows that you care about how the other person is feeling; they will warm to you and you will ease communication with them.

7. You should 'own' your message, using terms such as 'I' and 'my'; this makes your communication sound more genuine and sincere.

8. You should learn to express your feelings as that can make them clearer to you as well as to other people.

If you keep in mind these few tips and you try to practice them in your interactions with other people, you will see that you soon develop much more effective interpersonal communication, both as a speaker and a listener.
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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