Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal Definition, Communication Skills and Examples

We all know that humans are social creatures, but with the advent of things like social media and increased online communication, what does “social” really mean in our day and age? What are interpersonal skills and what about interpersonal definition? 

 

What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal communication is so important, but what is it exactly? What’s a good interpersonal definition, if we want to exclude digital space, social media and online communication? Basically, we need to ask, what are interpersonal skills and how do they pertain to you and me? Don’t worry, our interpersonal definition simply states that these are the skills we need as human beings in order to converse and talk about things on a daily basis.

These skills sound very straightforward, but as we know, practice makes perfect, and if we don’t practice them, our interpersonal communication skills can take a nosedive. This is especially true for some of us who might have a hard time putting this interpersonal definition into daily action. And digital platforms certainly don’t help the matter!

Interpersonal Definition and The Internet

Unfortunately, interpersonal communication skills and face-to-face conversation are almost a lost art.

interpersonal definition
There’s always a screen between us, isn’t there?

Let’s face it, a lot of interpersonal communication isn’t so personal anymore. Interpersonal definition has been changed by the Internet and technology. There’s always a screen between us, isn’t there? However, most of us still find that interpersonal communication is far less stressful when we perform it via digital channels. That’s because when we’re online, we don’t have to worry about misreading body language cues. We also don’t have to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed for having an unpopular opinion in our social circle. Another perk to being online is that we have time on our side. It almost protects us from being put on the spot; we have more time to think about our response.

But something is lost in this type of communication, and our interpersonal skills don’t get a chance to stretch their muscles. And that’s because interpersonal skills, like any other skill, take some time and effort to master. The digital world has taken many interpersonal communication skills away from us. It’s like being an athlete without a gym or a track to train on. And so, our interpersonal skills take a back seat, and with that, our ability to interact with other humans in a positive and productive way.  And yes, it’s true that we can interact digitally and share lots of information this way, but is it helping us grow as a species?

Interpersonal Communication and Human History

If we’re going to explore interpersonal definition, we should also briefly discuss human history, and our needs as social beings.

interpersonal communication
What are interpersonal skills in today’s world?

If you have anxiety when it comes to human interaction of any kind, rest assured that you’re not alone. Underdeveloped interpersonal skills are an unfortunate reality for many people from all walks of life, all over the world. And while it’s easy to blame the internet and mass communication for our lack of interpersonal savvy, the root of the problem is much deeper. Don’t get me wrong; the internet isn’t helping matters, but it’s not the root cause when it comes to problems within interpersonal communication.

Since the onset of the industrial revolution and especially at the turn of the 20th century, humans have become increasingly isolated from one another. Two of the biggest culprits behind the dismantling of interpersonal communication are personal vehicles and the suburban sprawl. Personal vehicles have brought an indescribable freedom to humanity, because now, we can travel more quickly and according to our own schedule, too. No more waiting for public transportation. What’s more, we have the freedom to travel farther from home. But what has been lost with the increase of personal cars, however, is community.

Within a community, people have the opportunity to meet with others on a daily basis. They might be your fellow neighbors, running the same errands that you are. Or, if you live in a bigger city, you might have greater opportunities to meet new people. Friendships and business connections can spark when two people wait at the same train station every day, or walk the same path to work. Neither of these two examples of interpersonal skills are possible when people are inside their own bubble, zipping along the freeway in comfortable introspection.

The rise of suburban sprawl really took a toll on this age-old concept of community. Many gated neighborhoods and suburban areas lack independent grocery stores, libraries and other gathering places. Before, neighbors used to run into each other in a spontaneous fashion while going about their daily business, now long distances between people leads to isolation and robs us of a chance to use our interpersonal communication skills.

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Modern Struggles with the Interpersonal Definition

Nostalgia won’t help us reclaim our interpersonal communication skills, so there’s no point bemoaning the past. Instead, we need to ask, “What are interpersonal skills in today’s world?” And this doesn’t have to mean the world as a whole; interpersonal skills are relevant to your world.

For example, have you ever stayed home instead of attending a social event? All because you were anxious and nervous about meeting new people? Or, have you ever disagreed with a proposal but didn’t want to speak up at a company meeting because you didn’t want to cause a conflict? What about feeling guilty if you choose to take care of your own needs rather than the needs of your family?

What are interpersonal skills? They are exactly those skills that can help you navigate all of those situations more comfortably, productively and successfully. In all of those situations, your interpersonal communication know-how is probably lacking.

So, if you identify with any of these feelings or situations, then you may not be living your life to its full potential. Positive interpersonal communication is integral to every aspect of our lives, and really mastering this interpersonal skills definition can lead to increased success in both your work and personal life.

Interpersonal Definition: Skills for Success

Now that we’ve spent some time discussing what interpersonal skills are, and why they’re so important in today’s society, let’s take a closer look at the interpersonal definition as it relates to you and me, right here and right now.

Leadership Skills

What are interpersonal skills when it comes to groups? Well, projecting confidence is one of the most important tactics that skilled leaders use. Whether your leadership role is as the head of your household or as the manager of a restaurant, you often have to make decisions that affect many different people.

The interpersonal skills definition for a great leader will include a lot of respect and compassion. These are integral traits, even if they go unnoticed by most people. And while it can be easy to isolate yourself when you’re placed in a leadership role, building community ties will actually strengthen your status as a successful leader. Those around you will grow to trust you and the big decisions you make on their behalf, whether you’re in the boardroom or on the home front.

Negotiations Skills

We are consistently challenged to make decisions that need to satisfy the majority and avoid conflict. What are interpersonal skills when it comes to avoiding conflict? Compromises. And of the interpersonal skill examples discussed here, this one may be challenging for some. So, it’s useful to learn how to negotiate on a smaller scale, so that when it comes to weightier issues, you’ve got some practice under your belt.

For example, a minor compromise is letting your friends choose which movie to watch, even if you’re not really interested in that particular flick. If you can practice negotiating in these types of situations, you can prepare yourself for more serious ones, like accepting a lower salary than you think you deserve because you really want the job. In these examples, our interpersonal skills definition would include negotiation. It’s an important skill and it guarantees that most people and their opinions are taken into consideration, and that they’re satisfied with the outcome.

Presentation Skills

Presentations are visually and aurally engaging, and an excellent one can linger in your mind and become a catalyst for change. No matter what the subject, presenting your argument or opinion in an intelligent and rational manner will benefit everyone involved, and it can certainly lead to productive conversations for the greater good.

In this case, our interpersonal skills definition would include careful preparation of the materials, with the mindset that you’re not just telling people information and hoping they’ll just accept it and then move on. You want to stimulate intelligent discourse, because remember, this is personal interaction we’re talking about.

Communication skills definition doesn’t only apply to conference rooms though. In fact, you have the opportunity every day to put interpersonal skills examples to good use.  How you dress can literally set the stage for positive communication. The same goes for grooming and punctuality.

But how you present yourself to others goes far beyond your wardrobe choices. Even if you feel unsure about something, or if you’re having a particularly stressful day, you can “fake it ‘till you make it” as the saying goes. And this will benefit both you and your colleagues. By exuding confidence and happiness (yes, even if it’s faked), others will see you in a more positive light, and your faux confidence will improve your mood and the general atmosphere.

Listening Skills

What are interpersonal skills if they don’t include listening? It’s been said that one cannot fully hear without listening. But how many people have conversations where both parties are only waiting for the other person to stop talking so that they can start? Too many of us do this, and whenever we do, we lose a great opportunity to put this communication skills definition into practice. In fact, listening is one of the most important interpersonal skills there is.

It might seem strange that listening is a communication skills example, since we’re not actually communicating with speech. But the truth is, by listening, we’re actually communicating that we want to listen, to understand, and to be there for the other person. We may not fully understand their feelings, but the act of listening demonstrates that we want to understand. It’s a great loss when our mind is elsewhere during conversations, and we can miss small and important details, which can help us solve larger problems together.

What is Interpersonal Skills and Two Tips to Improve Them

Developing stronger interpersonal skills is not always an easy task, but even recognizing that your skills are lacking is a major step forward. And with some intention and practice, you can definitely create your own long list of interpersonal skills examples to be proud of. You can employ the following tips are to help you increase the quality of your interpersonal relations.

1. Pay Attention When Others Talk

The ability to listen and actually absorb information garnered from conversations is nearly a lost art in the current era of low attention spans. But communications skills definition should definitely include paying attention to others. If you’re a good listener, your peers will likely trust you more, and it will improve communication and personal relationships in general. Plus, listening can allow you to be more empathetic, which is a wonderful interpersonal skill to have.

What is interpersonal skills when it comes to proper conversation etiquette? You can start by improving your ability to listen by noting how often you interrupt others during your conversations. If you interrupt often, try to make it through one conversation every day without interrupting the speaker.

You can also be mindful of your own breathing. This can help you stay present, focused and prevent you from making a knee-jerk reaction to something you disagree with. Here, communication skills examples means focusing your attention without casting judgment.

These suggestions would be a good place to start if you want to improve your interpersonal skills. You’ll likely find that it gets easier with more practice, and you’ll be amazed by how much it improves your empathy and decision-making ability.

2. Communication Skills Examples and Being Afraid

Many of us avoid social interactions or speaking our mind because we’re worried about how others may react. Most humans have an innate desire to be liked and to avoid conflict, so we don’t speak up when it’s necessary. This can lead to our own unhappiness and the breakdown of communication within group situations.

So, what is interpersonal skills when it comes to fear of rejection? The first thing to remember is that fear and caution are not synonymous. No matter what the situation, we should make calculated decisions and not just act out impulsively. At the same time, we should do our best not to compromise our own instincts and feelings just to please others.

You can usually tell the difference between caution and fear because caution usually feels steady, informed, and more like a slowing-down movement in the body. Fear, on the other hand, can make us feel panicky, frantic or indecisive. Fear can make you doubt yourself and second-guess everything. And sometimes, fear shows up when we need to be living our best communication skills examples!

One way we can counteract this is to return to our breath, and be mindful of it. Another idea is to simply admit that you’re nervous, unsure or even scared. Of course, we need to do this with tact, but you’d be surprised of how many people actually feel the same way as you do. And when we put something like that out in the open, it doesn’t feel as scary, does it? Plus, communicating your true feelings can lead to a greater sense of community with others.

Developing and improving interpersonal skills doesn’t happen overnight, but you can do it. And if you put these communication skill examples to work in your own life, you’ll improve your interactions in a number of ways. Consider finding a partner or group, like your immediate family or favorite co-workers, to take the journey with you. Community, instead of isolation, is always better when it comes to creating meaningful solutions.

If you liked our article about interpersonal skills and interpersonal definition, share it with your friends and see what they have to say! Feel free to sound off in the comments below about anything you didn’t like or that resonated particularly with you. 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Importance and Benefits of Practising Empathy in Everyday Life
Importance of Communication and Effective Communication Skills
Conversation Topics: Things to Talk About in Any Situation
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