The secret to long-term business success is a subject of popular debate. Some pundits say it’s the product that counts, others suggest it’s all to do with capital, and a few claim it’s nothing but blind luck! However, there is some consensus to be found:
A whopping 95% of professionals believe that interpersonal communication has a lot to do with it.
It isn’t difficult to see why they might be right either. After all, business is based upon relationships, and those, in turn, are always founded on trust. If you struggle (or fail) to communicate, relate, share, and empathize with people, then earning their trust is an almighty challenge.
Thankfully, interpersonal communication is a skill and not a talent. You can learn how to do it and improve over time, bettering your chances of business success along the way. Would you like some expert tips to help you get started?
Keep reading to learn exactly how to sharpen your interpersonal communication skills.
What is Interpersonal Communication?
The first step to getting better at this skill is understanding what it really is. Here’s the simplest interpersonal communication definition we can offer: it’s the process of sharing a message, in-person, with a fellow human being.
There are various levels of interpersonal communication to think about though. It isn’t all to do with the words that leave your mouth (though those are undoubtedly important). It’s as much about the manner in which you deliver them.
Everything from your tone of voice to your body language and the expressions on your face play a role. For example, saying “pleased to meet you” with a flat tone and blank facial expression is worlds apart from saying it with a smile on your face. It’s a simple distinction, but one that can transform the message you send to the recipient.
How to Improve Your Skills
Becoming a master of interpersonal communication is the best way to ensure you come across well when engaging with others. You’ll express yourself and relate to people more effectively, helping you cultivate stronger business relationships as a result. Sound good?
Here are a few core tips on how to do it:
Engage In Active Listening. There’s nothing worse than engaging in conversation and feeling as if your words are falling on deaf ears. You want to tell someone something, but their eyes glaze over, they stare blankly back at you, and it’s clear they’re not hearing a word. Make it your mission to avoid that frustrating fate whenever you’re networking. Pay attention when people talk to you, look them in the eye, nod your head, and make affirmatory sounds to let them know you’re listening.
Avoid Interrupting. Good communicators are better at listening than talking. They hear what people have to say, which helps them empathize, relate, and say something meaningful in response. In the same way, they almost never interrupt! They allow people to say what’s on their mind without interjecting. Not only does with avoid misunderstandings (i.e. you interrupt before hearing an important point), but it also facilitates friendliness and an engaging back-and-forth.
Consider Your Body Language. Remember, non-verbal cues are just as important as verbal ones when it comes to interpersonal communication. You’re sending messages at all times via the position of your body, the slant of your shoulders, the level of your eyebrows, and so on. Try to be aware of your body language at all times and what it might be saying to someone. For example, if you don’t want to seem defensive, then you’ll want to uncross your arms and unclench your fists ASAP!
Be Concise and Confident. The best orators sound supremely confident when they speak. It’s as if they don’t have to think before they open their mouths; immaculate sentences, witty remarks, and golden quips seem to emerge from their lips with no effort whatsoever. One reason for this is that they don’t ‘umm’, ‘ahh’, or use any other fillers (e.g. ‘like’, ‘basically’, ‘well’…). Try to emulate their example by speaking to people in a calm, concise, and gathered manner. You’ll get your message across with greater ease and appear more confident to boot.
Watch and Listen to Others. Seek to learn through observation too. Look around the office or go to networking events and pay attention to what other people are doing. Listen to how they talk to each other in different contexts; watch what they do with their face and body. You’ll soon realize similarities in the most effective communicators in the room. Copy what these people do in your own forthcoming conversations and you’re sure to feel the difference.
Ask for Feedback. Another effective way to improve your basic interpersonal communication skills is to seek feedback from people you know. Explain what you’re trying to find out about, have a chat, and then see if they have any comments on your ‘performance’. They might have valuable insights for you to take on board. For instance, they could point out that you looked at your watch a lot, fidgeted in your seat, or interrupted them in conversation- all of which you had no idea about.
Keep at It. Last but not least, remember to keep practicing. Becoming a better communicator is like learning anything. It takes time, effort, patience, and a commitment to progress. That’s why it’s so important to continue attending networking events, introducing yourself to people, and seeking feedback from friends, mentors, and colleagues. It’s only a matter of time before you see major improvements.
Sharpen Those Interpersonal Communication Skills
High-level interpersonal communication skills play a key role in both life and business. After all, it’s a cornerstone to building trust and relationships! With any luck, the tips in this post will help in this regard.
Keep them in mind and you should be a more effective communicator in no time.
Are you ready to put your interpersonal skills to work? Sign up to Introducing Me today- the business networking community geared toward small business owners. You can connect with the people you meet and form lasting relationships to grow your operation.