Tag Archives: Career success

What is Interpersonal Communication – Definition and 3 Myths

Effective interpersonal communication at work is essential to your career success. Yet it’s often not clearly understood nor easy to improve. After researching on Google regarding how others discuss interpersonal communication, I will offer my own perspective – a detailed definition of what is interpersonal communication and 3 most common myths about interpersonal communication.

What is Interpersonal Communication

Wikipedia defines Interpersonal communication as “the process that we use to communicate our ideas, thoughts, and feelings to another person.” Though I agree with this definition, I find it vague.  I define Interpersonal Communication as the process we use to build relationships with others through communication by effectively doing the following:
  • Understanding the other’s situationin order to build a relationship with someone, we need to be aware of where the other person is coming from.
  • Communicating in the right mannerit’s not just what we say that matters but also the tone we use and how we say it.  Additionally, by considering our understanding of the other person, we figure out how to best our intentions and ideas to that particular individual.
  • Influencing them to listen and/or take action as needed – People are more likely to listen to us when we listen first to them and make efforts to establish common grounds.  When we approach any communication with the intention to create a win-win situation, that’s when we will maximize our influence on others and inspire them to action.

At the end of the day, the purpose of communication is to reach a common understanding, build a better relationship, and/or agree on what to do next if action is required.
3 Most Common Myths about Interpersonal Communication 

It’s immensely difficult to improve your interpersonal communication if you still believe in some common myths.  Here are three of the most common myths:

  1. Myth #1: Focus just on the facts:  Facts are important in a conversation but can’t be the only focus.  Often we spend too much time figuring out what facts we want to communicate and too little time on how we want to communicate them.  Every person we speak to is human with insecurities, ambitions, and biases.   So remember the common adage: “It’s not what you say, but how you make people feel that matters.”
  2. Myth #2: If I am right, I can say so:  It’s never a good idea to kick someone when they are down.  If someone on your team makes a mistake, communicate that but focus the conversation more on where to go from there and allow them to recover.  If your customer over-billed you, you still don’t want to over-step in your communication.  Approach the situation gently and patiently.  It’s always better for the relationship if you give others the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Myth #3: Sugar coat bad news:  Bad news like a layoff message or a message to your boss about a mistake you made at work is difficult to deliver.  It’s important to deliver the message tactfully, but this is not the same as sugar coating.  Sugar coating implies being not direct or clear about the gravity of the message.  While sugar coating a message may make you feel more comfortable, it could confuse the other person or make the listener feel patronized.  Sincerity and a focus on moving forward will help more.   Whatever happened already happened.  So be straightforward and focus on next steps.

For more on this topic and how to improve your communication skills at work, sign up for our Soft Skills Gym membership – an online learning platform to develop your soft skills and accelerate your career success.

I look forward to your comments.  I am always in your corner.


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How to Improve Your Soft Skills?

How to improve your soft skills is an important question to answer for your career success.  It is also a tough question to answer in general as soft skills encompass many different skills in two general categories. self management skills– those we use to manage our emotions, self-perception, and reactions to unexpected situations. Examples of…

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What are Soft Skills?

I must admit I had no idea what are soft skills when I graduated from college.   I quickly realized on my first job at McKinsey how my lack of some soft skills were affecting my performance reviews.  Here are some of the soft skills I lacked at that time. Stress Management and People Management Skills…

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Forgive and Forget – Key to Career Success

I had a real scare yesterday. My 3 year old daughter, Isabel, lost her balance and fell from an 8-feet-high rope ladder, head first. I screamed, and although I was a few steps away, I couldn’t reach her in time. She hit the dirt on the side of her head and right cheek. Luckily, her head does not seem to be injured. Besides a shiner on her cheek, she was just super scared.

As I’ve reflected on this experience over and over again during the last 24 hours, I’ve realized a distinct difference between how kids handle something like this vs. how adults handle it. We, as adults, can better achieve career success if we behaved more like kids when we “stumble and fall” in our life or career — forgive and forget!

We are all imperfect.  We can all make mistakes in our careers, or be treated unfairly by someone at work. Can you think of a time when this happened to you? I can think of a few. How long did you hold on to that moment when you stumbled and fell a little in your career? For many of us, we spend months, or even years, blaming ourselves or others for what happened. Forgiving and forgetting is far from our minds. I am writing this to remind all of us to forgive and forget in life and at work.

It took Isabel about 20 minutes to get over the scariest experience of her life. She simply acted like nothing happened! I know she will want to climb another rope ladder the next time she sees one. I think most kids are like that, which is why we tend to say that they’re so resilient and learn so quickly. They don’t hold onto negative baggage or blame, which means they can move into the next moment and absorb it 100%. It didn’t even occur to Isabel to blame me for not catching her, or that other kid who stepped on her finger before she fell. She just dealt with the accident and moved on once she felt better.

It seems so simple, yet many of us lose that ability to be resilient — forgive and forget — once we grow up. I still want to blame myself for not catching her, or I want to blame the parents of the kid that stepped on her finger. I’m catching myself, though — I’m realizing that every moment I hold onto bad past experiences is a moment that I am not 100% in the present, learning and evolving. The same applies to bad experiences we may have had at work.

Stop letting yourself relive your past career mistakes. Forgiving and forgetting is key to your future career success. We are all imperfect, and unfortunately sh** happens sometimes. The best way to deal with it is to move on so you can experience every new moment with freshness and 100% focus.

Good luck. I look forward to your thoughts. Please provide comments in the box below.

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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