> Interpersonal communication: What is it, elements and types. - Communication Etiquette

Interpersonal communication: What is it, elements and types.

To understand what interpersonal communication is, you must first know how it works and how we manage to satisfy our needs and objectives. In addition, how it connects to broader social and cultural systems.

Interpersonal communication is the process of exchanging messages between people whose lives influence each other uniquely in relation to social and cultural norms.

This definition highlights the fact that interpersonal communication involves two or more people who are interdependent to some degree and who create a unique bond based on social and cultural contexts.

Therefore, a brief exchange with a grocery store employee you do not know would not be considered interpersonal communication, because you and the employee do not influence each other significantly.

Interpersonal communication: What is it, elements and types.

Obviously, if the employee were a friend, family member, coworker, or romantic partner, communication would fall into the interpersonal category.

Why study interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal communication has many implications for us in the real world. Did you know that this type of communication played an important role in human evolution?

Also, did you know that interpersonal skills have a measurable impact on psychological and physical health? 

People with greater interpersonal communication skills are better able to adapt to stress, have greater satisfaction in relationships and more friends, and have less depression and anxiety.

In fact, prolonged isolation has been shown to seriously harm a human being.

Have you ever heard of the boy or girl who was raised by wolves? Cases have been documented of abandoned or neglected children, sometimes called wild children, who survived using their animal instincts but suffered psychological and physical trauma as a result of their isolation.

In addition to improving your relationships and health, interpersonal communication skills are highly sought after by potential employers, consistently ranking in the top ten skills in national surveys.

Each of these examples illustrates how interpersonal communication meets our basic human needs for security in our social, health, and career ties.

But we are not born with all the interpersonal communication skills that we will need in life. So, to make the most of our interpersonal relationships, we must learn some basic principles.

Many times we engage in interpersonal communication to meet certain objectives that we may have

This is because interpersonal communication is strategic, which means that we intentionally create messages to achieve certain goals that help us function in society and our relationships.

Goals vary by situation and communicators but ask yourself if you are generally successful in reaching the goals you start a conversation with or not.

If so, you may already have a high degree of competence in interpersonal communication or the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in personal relationships.

Imagine that you are the manager of a small department of employees of a marketing agency, where you often have to work on time. 

As the deadline approaches, you're concerned about your team's ability to work unsupervised to complete tasks, so it disrupts everyone's work and assigns all individual tasks to them.

You meet the deadline and you have effectively achieved your goal. Over the next month, you find out that some have been talking about how they struggle to work with you as a manager.

Although your strategy was effective, many people do not respond well to strict hierarchy or micromanaging and may have deemed your communication inappropriate.

To be competent interpersonal communicators, we must learn to balance being effective and appropriate.

A competent communicator could have implemented the same detailed plan for accomplishing the task in a way that included feedback, making employees feel more included and listened to.

What is interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal communication is the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and nonverbal messages.

This is not just about what is actually said or the language used, but how it is said and the non-verbal messages sent through tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language.

When two or more people are in the same place and are aware of each other's presence, then the communication takes place, no matter how subtle or involuntary it is.

Without speech, an observer may be using posture cues, facial expressions, and clothing to form an impression of the role, emotional state, personality, and/or intentions of the other.

Although communication is not intended, people receive messages through such forms of nonverbal behavior.

Elements of interpersonal communication

Much research has been done to try to divide interpersonal communication into a series of elements so that it can be more easily understood.

Commonly, these include:

The communicators

For any communication to occur there must be at least two people involved. It's easy to think of communication involving a sender and receiver of a message.

However, the problem with this way of looking at a relationship is that it presents communication as a one-way process where one person sends the message and the other receives it. While one person speaks and another listens, for example.

In fact, communications are almost always complex two-way processes, with people sending and receiving messages to each other simultaneously.

In other words, communication is an interactive process. While one person talks, the other listens, but while listening, they also send comments in the form of smiles, head movements, etc.

The message

The message not only means the speech used or the information transmitted but also the non-verbal messages exchanged, such as:
  1. Facial expressions
  2. Voice tone
  3. Gestures and body language.
Nonverbal behavior can convey additional information about the spoken message. It can reveal more about the emotional attitudes that can underlie the content of the speech.

The noise

Noise has a special meaning in communication theory. It refers to everything that distorts the message so that what is received is different from what the speaker intends.

While physical "noise" can interfere with communication, other factors are considered noise.
  1. Using complicated jargon
  2. Inappropriate body language
  3. Lack of attention
  4. Disinterest and cultural differences
In other words, any distortion or inconsistency that occurs during a communication attempt can be seen as noise.


The feedback is returned messages the receiver, which allows the sender to know how accurately the message has been received and the reaction of the receiver.

The recipient can also reply to both the unintended message and the intentional message.

The types of comments range from direct verbal statements, for example, "Say it again, I don't understand," to subtle facial expressions or changes in posture that could indicate to the sender that the recipient is uncomfortable with the message.

Feedback allows the regular sender to adapt or repeat the message to improve communication.


All communication is influenced by the context in which it takes place.

However, in addition to looking at the situational context of where the interaction takes place. For example, in a room, office, or perhaps outdoors, the social context should also be considered.

The roles, responsibilities, and relative state of the participants influence the emotional climate and the expectations of the participants about the interaction.


Channel refers to the physical means by which the message is transferred from one person to another.

In a face-to-face context, the channels used are speech and vision. However, during a phone conversation, the channel is limited to speaking only.
Key interpersonal communication skills

Effective interpersonal communication skills are required to form and establish relationships.

There are many different types: We have described eleven of the most important skills:

Verbal communication

Interpersonal communication skills are important to most occupations because they help you interact effectively and build rapport.

  • Adapt your speech to the public avoiding technical terminology.
  • Ask questions to show your interest in what is being said.
  • Match what you are saying with your voice and body language.
  • Reflect on what someone has said by summarizing and paraphrasing.
  • Actively listen

Active listening

Active listening is listening beyond the words spoken, understand the message being communicated. During conversations, the “listener” often thinks about how they will respond instead of concentrating on what the speaker is saying.

By actually listening, you can provide a more reflective response that takes into account the speaker's thoughts and opinions. This will help people around you understand that you value and appreciate them.

To develop active listening, you should practice the following:

Pay Attention: Give the speaker your full attention instead of thinking about your response.
Show the speaker that you are listening and that you are interested; body language is especially useful for this.

Clarify your understanding: You need to make sure you understand what the speaker is saying without your judgments and beliefs getting in the way, so be sure to reflect and ask questions.

Do not interrupt or redirect the conversation.
Provide an appropriate response that is honest but courteous.

Body language

The impression others make of you is roughly divided by:
  • Body (visual) 55%
  • Voice (sound) 38%
  • Words (content) 7%
So body language is used significantly to understand what is being said.

When communicating with others, your goal is to display open body language, such as a relaxed posture, maintain eye contact, arms folded, nod your head, and smile.

Closed body language should be avoided, as it can be perceived as disinterested or even unreliable. For example, folding arms or legs, avoiding eye contact, changing eyes, or restlessness.


Not only do you talk to people who have similar views to yours, but you should also talk to those who have opposite opinions.

Show interest in what they say in order to understand how they think. This will help with your own development as it challenges you and people will admire this. Because it shows the willingness to learn from others, even if you disagree.

Negotiation skills

Negotiation is important in a variety of situations. You may need it to resolve a conflict or create a contract.

You must be able to reach mutual agreements that keep everyone satisfied, even if there is a compromise. Being able to negotiate leads to respect and people will trust you as they know that you care for everyone's best interests.

Decision-making and problem-solving skills

For most jobs, a very important skill is needed: Think of solutions to solve a problem.

This type of creative thinking can help maintain harmony within a team. The general structure for problem-solving is:
  • Identify the problem
  • Explore all solutions
  • Decide which solution to implement
  • Implement the solution
  • Check the result

The resolution of conflicts

You may need to resolve a conflict at some point. Active listening and problem-solving are helpful for this, as you will need to listen objectively from all sides and you must come to a positive resolution.

Resolving conflict is not always a negative experience: it can be very constructive and give you an understanding of secondary problems. For example, perhaps a team member has difficulties at home, making them more irritable.

By forming a plan with those involved, you can help them move forward and manage their difficulties. They may have never experienced this constructive help before your mediation.


Assertiveness is when you confidently express your needs and opinions in a fair, honest and calm manner while considering the needs and opinions of other people.

People are more likely to like and respect you if you are assertive in your communication rather than passive or aggressive.

  • Tell the other person how you feel.
  • Listen to what the other person is saying and empathize with them.
  • Speak at normal conversation volume.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Avoid words that exaggerate, such as "always" and "never."
  • Use facts instead of judgments.

Positive attitude

People want to be around others who are friendly and have a positive outlook, even when the company may be in a difficult situation.

You don't have to be incredibly outgoing, but you do need to develop some kind of positive relationship with your team to make the workplace enjoyable for everyone.


For a company to function effectively, people must work well together to achieve a common goal.

Some people struggle with teamwork because they think they know how to do the job better than anyone else and don't trust others to do their roles. This can create conflict and damage the overall effectiveness of the team.

If this is difficult for you, help your colleagues whenever you can, and ask for their opinions and ideas. Show enthusiasm when your colleagues offer their own ideas.


Being empathetic means that you are able to identify and understand the emotions of others, that is, to imagine yourself in the position of another person. Being empathetic shows your team that you care.

For example, if a manager reacts angrily after discovering that an employee has been late for work because their child is ill, the team is likely to react negatively to the manager.

It would be more favorable for the manager to understand and agree on an action plan with the employee, such as having the employee start work earlier and finish later.

Employees and colleagues will respect and trust you more if you empathize with them and express compassion.

Also, understanding how people feel will help you communicate your thoughts and ideas in a way that makes sense to others, and will help you understand others when they communicate.
5 ways interpersonal communication skills will change your life

Good interpersonal communication makes difficult decisions easier to resolve and helps generate goal-oriented conversations.

Interpersonal communication skills teach you to work smarter

Your boss cares more about visible skills than hard work.

Yes, you read it right. Hard work is not the means to an end, it is just a means to work harder.

Be smart: work smart!

Spend your energy on a combination of high investment tasks and interpersonal communication, and you will see amazingly impressive results!

Look for opportunities to show the team what you're worth. When someone throws the ball and you want more responsibility, go ahead!

When all goes well, talk to the boss about interest in similar future opportunities. If the opportunity is more work, just do stellar work on something you're already working on.

You will have more friends

If you want high-level rewards, it's good to show a fair amount of confidence and exchange thoughts over lunch.

There's a classic Friends episode where one of the female leads, Rachel, pretends she's a smoker to participate in decision-making outside of the office doors with superiors who frequently smoke at work.

This is a great example and takes advantage of interpersonal communication skills. 

Now, we certainly would not suggest harming your body in any way to achieve better interpersonal communication skills. But you can use your breaks, lunches, happy hours, and teamwork sessions to collaborate and grow your reputation.

Just start a conversation or invite some like-minded people to a happy hour, perhaps making it a weekly thing.

Don't mention work too often, but subtly weave ideas into the conversation as you make sure to ask your coworkers questions. This will spark interest.

Plus, talk about what you like to do outside of work - this is a surprisingly effective way to generate new ideas and build networks that you will need for future projects.

Better interpersonal communication leads to better remuneration

Having good interpersonal communication skills shows your personal investment in the company.

You must use strong interpersonal communication skills to build lasting relationships with coworkers and clients.

Most jobs have regular reviews of employee work, and managers use their interpersonal communication skills to get a better idea of ​​what you are worth as an employee.

You also show the old boss how invested you are in your future there. People who lack interest and drive tend to show poor soft skills. And communicating interpersonally is a critical soft skill.

When it's time for the review, good communication skills will help you showcase the great work you've done, and can turn a bad review into an interview for a promotion!

In addition, hard work and good communication will show everyone you work with that you are interested in your work life and in the company.

Interpersonal communication skills leave a strong first impression

Strong interpersonal communication is a 'winning' interview.

A strong first impression will affect your work and ability to achieve overall goals for years to come. A smile, a strong handshake, an introductory statement, and a show of interest tell people more than an interview could.

In fact, it helps to think of an interview, or a similar encounter, as a first date. The other person is deciding what you can offer them in the long run and each part of body language and what you say affects their expectations in a positive or negative way.
These skills will make people fall in love with you.

Studies show that people who have successful relationships have strong communication skills and are more likely to obtain leadership roles. 

This means that you are letting your best qualities shine without hesitation when you interact with others.

Are you currently single and thinking, "What about me?"

Okay, you don't have to be in a relationship for people to love you. There are many other types of relationships that you can create and use to the network without a romantic partner.

Practicing presentations and collaborations inside and outside the workplace helps both your physical skills and what you get in an interview or in any setting.

Does eye contact and proper greeting can help you find the love and success? The only thing you have to lose is a great opportunity.

They help you feel happier with work

We all know that bad day are inevitable, but that doesn't mean you have to be miserable all the time.

Climbing the corporate ladder, or becoming a business owner, means taking a long time to build and combine experience and communication.

Research shows that even if you don't love your job or the people you work with, talking to them will make you feel better. This is because our brains are wired to pair up and find a tribe.

We also instinctively explore our power and role in a group when we use interpersonal communication skills. When you go home every day, you will notice your daily victories in the direction of those conversations.

To implement

When you have the opportunity to observe some interpersonal communication, make a mental note of the behaviors used, both verbal and non-verbal.
  • Observe and think about the following factors:
  • Who are the communicators?
  • What messages were exchanged?
  • What noise (if any) distorts the message?
  • How are comments given?
  • What is the context of communication?
You probably do this all the time, unconsciously, but when you actively pay attention to interpersonal communication you can appreciate its mechanics more.

By observing others, making a conscious effort to understand how communication occurs, you will think about how it communicates to you and you will be more aware of the messages you send.

This provides you with a perfect opportunity to develop your interpersonal communication skills.
Interpersonal communication: What is it, elements and types. Interpersonal communication: What is it, elements and types. Reviewed by communication etiquette on 3:11 PM Rating: 5

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