Interpersonal Skills

In today’s competitive business environment, the ability to communicate well with others is very important. Good communicators are able to give out the right ‘vibes’ – which in turn encourages a positive response from others. This can be seen as a natural ‘gift’ that some people possess and other don’t but the truth is that anyone can modify their own behaviour and communications to help draw out the sort of behaviour and communication they want in others.

In this article we’ll be looking at some techniques to help you achieve more from your interpersonal skills.

Interpersonal Communication Skills Training for success

Liz Banks - Skillstudio MD If you want some expert coaching to help you enhance your interpersonal skills then Skillstudio are there to help. We provide:-

Interpersonal Skills Coaching
Half day of full day, 121 coaching by an expert trainer.

Effective Communication Skills Course
These 1-day public courses are held regularly in Central London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Communication Skills Workshops
We can also run our 1-day workshops for your organisation on an in-house basis at your premises throughout the UK and Europe.

Call us today on 08456 444 150 if you want to discuss how our training can help you or your team.

Understanding how you communicate

The first step needed to develop good interpersonal skills is to develop a good awareness of how you appear to others. This includes how you –

  • sound
  • look
  • react

when interacting with other people.

When you are speaking, your listeners will pick up on non verbal clues and react accordingly. Non verbal clues that they will notice include the following:

  • Your tone of voice
  • Your speed of speaking
  • Your body language

Reading the ‘tone’ of your message

It’s not just what you say that’s important but how you say it that also carries great influence on the way people react to you. Your moods and emotions are reflected in your tone of voice and you can use it to your advantage. However a lack of awareness may have a negative effect on your listeners. For example, if your voice is monotone or lacking energy, you may be perceived as being disinterested, bored or irritated.

Using your voice to build rapport

To help bring out the best in your voice and use it to help communicate more effectively, it is useful to develop your range of vocal expression so that you can draw upon the most suitable for any given situation.

For example:

Dealing with a difficult situation

When you are dealing with a difficult situation, you may want to avoid a build up of tension. It is therefore important to speak with

  • A calm tone
  • A steady pace
  • A smooth delivery

To achieve this try to speak in the following way:

  • Keep your pitch controlled by avoiding speaking at a too higher pitch or changing your pitch too much
  • Don’t ‘snatch’ at your words. Each word has a beginning, middle and end – even if it only consists of one syllable, so make sure each part of the word is fully pronounced.
  • Keep your volume at a softer level to avoid shouting – especially if you have a naturally strong voice where you may want to think about speaking slightly quieter than usual
  • Keep your delivery pace smooth – not too quickly and with no dramatic changes in the speed in which you speak

If you follow the above guidelines it will help to prevent you sounding abrupt or over emotional. Instead you will sound calm, assertive and in control.

Sending out signals through body language

We all subconsciously read the body language of others. For example people react to our use of:

  • Posture
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Eye contact

People will read volumes into the signals conveyed to them if you are sitting slouched in your seat, avoiding any eye contact with them and speaking to them with a stern or impassive face. They may deduce that you are disinterested in them or frustrated with them. They are unlikely to react to you with any enthusiasm.

Using posture to create the right impression

To create a positive rapport with other people, think about your posture. Whether sitting or standing your body language should appear natural and relaxed but you also need to project a confident and professional image. To help achieve this, ensure that

  • When sitting – the small of your back is firmly supported in your chair to give you a well supported posture
  • When standing – your weight is well balanced on both feet so that your stance is strong

Using eye contact to build rapport

Confident use of eye contact helps encourage open interaction between yourself and those around you. If you don’t look at people when you are speaking to them you are losing a huge opportunity to build rapport with them.

For example

Speaking in a meeting

If you are speaking to a group of people in a meeting, it’s important to engage with every person in the meeting, to help keep them all interested in what you are saying. To help achieve this aim to:

  • Share your eye contact around the room – (a rule of thumb is to give three seconds to each person at any one time)
  • Imagine that you are giving ‘nuggets’ of information with your eye contact to the others in the meeting
  • Hold your eye contact once you’ve made it – don’t flicker around as this will look hesitant

Initially, you may feel awkward when giving eye contact to others but once you have practised it a few times, it will feel second nature to do and it will become a very empowering way to engage with others.

Interpersonal Skills – summary points

It is important to remember that ‘behaviour breeds behaviour’. By communicating effectively with others, they are more likely to reciprocate in the same way.

Here is a quick reminder of some of the practical ways you can enhance the way you interact with others:

  • Speak at a controlled pact – not too quickly
  • Take your time over every word you say – so that you don’t appear too abrupt
  • Vary your tone according to the situation
  • Take care with your posture – with the way you sit and stand
  • Use eye contact evenly around the group you are speaking with – to involve everyone in the group

The development of effective interpersonal skills is an on-going process. These skills can be developed and fine tuned through training. It is worth making the investment to develop your own interpersonal skills so that you can develop greater influence on those around you.

Developing your interpersonal skills further

To get some expert advice and coaching and enhance your interpersonal skills, click on one of the links below:-

Interpersonal Skills – 121 coaching
Interpersonal Communications Courses – Open to members of the public
Communication Skills Workshops – In-house training for companies and organisations

Skillstudio also offer public courses, 1-2-1 coaching and in-house training in many aspects of presentation skills and communication skills, including public speaking, job interview skills, vocal skills and body language awareness.

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