Anyone can master interpersonal communication. There are only a few people who are naturally good at it. For the rest of us, it will take conscious efforts and practice. I recommend using 7 steps to achieve effective interpersonal communication at work today.
- Start with self awareness - Do you know how well you communicate today? What works and what doesn’t? If not, gather feedback so you know your strengths and where you need to improve. Use this list here to help self-assess.
- Always keep the other person in mind- For any interpersonal communication, prepare how you should approach it. Start with the other person in mind. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what maybe their mindset, sensitivities, and how they may receive this communication from you. Effective interpersonal communication can only happen if you understand where the person you are speaking with may stand.
- Determine your desired “win-win” outcome: Before you go into a conversation, ask yourself what’s your one desired “win-win” outcome. It must be “win-win” as not all outcomes your desire are good for the relationship. You may want to prove you are right as the outcome, but that by default would mean the other person needs to be proven wrong. Then you may have won the argument but lost the relationship. That’s not worth it.
- Gather the facts: While facts can’t be the only focus of your communication, you need the facts to keep the communication as unbiased as possible. It’s hard to resolve anything if all you have is he said she said.
- Practice a calm approach/tone: This will require the most time especially if you are emotional about the situation. You need to calm down first and then approach the communication with an open tone. This requires time since our instinctive reaction is to take a defensive or offensive tone. An open tone can be one that gives the benefit of the doubt or focus on we instead of you vs. me. Your openness and calm will invite the other people to listen and will show in your tone that you are there to build the relationship.
- Listen as much as you speak: Effective interpersonal communication is a two way street. Spend 50% of the time listening. We sometimes prepare so much that all we focus on is talking. You can lose the listener quickly that way. Pause after a few sentences so the other party can respond. That way you can adapt your communication based on how they are responding. Sometimes it takes a lot less words than you think to achieve the “win-win” outcome.
- Don’t expect anything: We cannot control or change anyone else. This is an easy concept that we all forget often. After all this work we put into structuring an interpersonal communication, there are no guarantees how the person we are speaking with will react. This is okay. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. All you can do is play your part the best you can, accept whatever you get and adapt your actions from there.
I look forward to your comments. I am always in your corner.