I went to the dentist (Dr Sood) today and it was a great experience. You may ask “what does this has to do with interpersonal communication skills or my career?” Well, you will see after I tell this story. As you may remember, I wrote about interpersonal skills examples last July after my last visit to the same dental office. That time, my experience was terrible. A different dentist (Dr. Vo) saw me at the same office. Dr Vo probably graduated from the top of her class and everything she told me was probably true. However, it was the way she interacted with me that made it such a bad experience. As such, Dr. Vo lost my business forever.
In contrast, today I went to see Dr Sood, the dentist I use to see in this same office. She were amazing. She delivered pretty much the same conclusion to me about my teeth. But because of her expert interpersonal skills, not only did I listen, but I also really appreciated her expertise.
Can you imagine the power of good interpersonal communication skills? If a dentist can turn bad news about my teeth into something I listen to and appreciate, imagine what you can do for your career if you use effective interpersonal communication skills when conversing with your colleagues and your boss. Interpersonal communication skills is the ability to deliver any communication in a way where the other person will listen and at the same time form a favorable impression of you. How powerful would that be in your career!
So how can you improve your interpersonal communication skills? Here are 5 tips you can use in your next business conversation.
- Build personal rapport – Whatever your business conversation is, don’t launch right into it, always start with a little small talk that shows you have been paying attention and care about the person you are speaking with. It’s important to be genuine here. At the dentist, Dr Sood’s staff immediately congratulated me on the birth of my baby and asked also about how my older daughter is doing. I was impressed they remembered so much about me and seemed genuinely interested.
- Listen – if you ever want to be heard by anyone, you must first also show that you are listening to them. Interpersonal communication is a two-way conversation. Only when you listen, can you perceive where they are coming from and respond appropriately. Also most people appreciate it when you listen and will in turn return the favor and listen to you. Dr Sood today asked me about my teeth. I told her and she listened intently and didn’t seem to judge at all. I appreciated it that.
- Speak with encouragement and without finding fault – If someone spoke to you and all they were saying is where you are wrong, would you listen or would you be offended? Most likely, you would be offended. Nobody likes to be told they are wrong even if they are. It’s human nature. It’s better to speak with encouragement – focus on what’s working and also focus on the future and what can be done to improve. No one can change the past, but the future is not written yet and you can communicate what can be done in the future and the benefits in order to make sound recommendations without finding fault. My dentist did exactly that today. She acknowledged my efforts so I felt good that I did some things right and then she told me what I could do to improve. She didn’t tell me I must do it. She simply told me why it would be good for me to do it and left it up to me. I am already thinking about how to change my habits in the future as a result.
- Genuine tone and non-verbal cues matter – It’s not only what words you choose to say but also how you say it that matters. The communication tone you choose can convey judgement even if you don’t want to, so make sure in your heart you don’t believe in finding fault. Otherwise, even if you use the right words to avoid finding fault, your tone will disclose how you really feel and can still put someone on the defensive. Same is true of body language. It’s important to make eye contact, don’t fold your arms and face your body to whom you are speaking. All this invites a positive response.
- Care about the person with whom you are speaking – Last but not the least, this is probably the most important tip. The more you can put yourself in their shoes, the better you can find the best approach in communicating with them. If you have to tell your boss bad news, then imagine how he would feel receiving the news and what he would worry about. If you can proactively address those worries to minimize his stress, you will also minimize the impact of this news may have on your job performance.
At the end of day, mastering interpersonal communication skills gives you the power to influence other’s action and impression of you. I walked away from the dental office today happy and relieved. I accepted everything Dr. Sood recommended, will go back tomorrow for an hour for fillings (more business for them), booked my husband for a cleaning with her (advocate her to others) and plan to improve on how I will care for my teeth at home (caused me to change and act).
Just like dentistry, success in the corporate world is about people and not just business solutions. Everyone wants to be treated with respect and care. If you take time to improve your interpersonal communication skills and listen, care, and communicate in a way that keep their interest in mind, they will most likely return the favor and support your career success.
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Your comments: Do these tips help? Did I miss any? I look forward to your comments below. Thanks. I am always in your corner.