Interpersonal Intelligence and Effective Workplace Communication

Communication is pivotal to the success of any organisation because a breakdown in communication in any organisation is a harbinger of failure. Everything revolves around an effective communication. For smooth running of any organisation, leaders must be able to accurately communicate the organisation’s visions and goals, individual roles, core values, deliverables etc. In the same vein, employee must also possess the ability to effectively exchange information and meaning within the workplace.

Carol Lehman defined Communication as the process of exchanging information and meaning between or among individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, and behaviour. Going by this definition, an effective communication is hinged on individuals’ interpersonal intelligence (people smart skills).

Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to read, empathise, and understand others. People with interpersonal intelligence are good with people and thrive in social interaction. Rather than being a quality that some are born with while others are not, interpersonal intelligence can be improved by broadening your understanding of human behaviour and motivation and practicing certain behaviours when in interpersonal situations. The following tips can help improve your PeopleSmart skills:

Understand people: In order to improve your interpersonal intelligence, you must be intentional and strategic about understanding people. Mel Silberman Suggested three broad ways through which this can be done:

  • Listening and Observing: To understand people, you must make a conscious effort to listen to their ideas and points of view, and observe their body language.
  • Clarify Meaning: The core level of understanding is recognising the significance of what the other person tells us. Delve beyond facts and figures to access the underlying meaning being communicated. To achieve this, ask open ended questions, paraphrase and respond to feelings.
  • Interpret Behaviours: Attempting to understanding actions of individuals with whom you share the same values and world view may be easier than trying to understand the actions of people of different culture. You can interpret co-workers/colleagues’ behaviours by evaluating their personal goals, assessing their personal styles, and recognising their differences.

Express yourself Clearly:  If your goal is to improve your interpersonal intelligence, you must strive to always communicate clearly. Good verbal communication means saying just enough – do not talk too much or too little. Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. To improve on your clarity, endeavour to always talk straight and include the listener in the communication process.

Assert your Needs: Your listeners and co-workers cannot read your mind, therefore, tell them what you want. “Besides having healthy limits, you need to speak up so others know what they are. Holding back what you need from others only leads to frustration.” You should make sure to understand what you stand for and you should communicate that clearly to others. Improve your assertiveness by being decisive, remaining calm and confident, and being persistent.

Feedback: Feedback is important to effective communication – Effective communication is only possible if communicators at all organizational levels seek out feedback and take appropriate actions to ensure that the intended meaning is passed on to the relevant audience. Feedback is something we give as well as receive. Whether the gift is welcome or not depends on knowing when and how to share our reflections so that others accept, value, and seek out our point of view. When we exchange feedback in a caring and skilful way, we open a window on the world. We like to think we know ourselves, and most of us do in many important respects. We know our likes and dislikes, our feelings and beliefs, what makes us laugh and cry. But others have a vantage point we can never hold. They are our mirrors. If we hide from or deny their perspectives, we miss out on vital information.

People with high interpersonal intelligence easily empathise with others and are gifted in dealing with other people. Your ability to communicate effectively will improve considerably if you follow the steps highlighted above.

  • PeopleSmart: Developing your Interpersonal Intelligence by Mel Silberman
  • Business communication by Carol M. Lehman & Debbie D. Dufrene

Practical Steps to Dealing with the H-Factor

Get rid of the h-factor

One of the linguistic problems plaguing speakers of English in Nigeria is the H-factor. It is more common in the Southwestern part of the country. It is a situation in which a speaker pronounces a word without the phoneme /h/ as though it has it, and removes the phoneme /h/ when pronouncing words that obviously have it.One important thing about the H-factor is that those struggling with it cannot tell the difference between a word said with the phoneme /h/ and another one said without the phoneme /h/. To such people, ‘anger’ and ‘hanger’ are pronounced the same way.

Although, many people struggling with the H-factor do not know what they are doing wrongly when they speak, a speech that is riddled with indiscriminate realisation of the phoneme /h/ can be a deal breaker. Therefore, the following steps will come in handy in your journey to eradicating the H-factor from your speech.

Practice with Chants and Tongue Twisters:Like most issues in English pronunciation, there is no elixir that can help cure the H-factor. However, a strategic and consistent learning and practicing would rid your speech of every form of the H-factor. H dropping and wrong insertion of H in English pronunciation can be corrected with chants and tongue twisters.To do this, carefully select words that have the phoneme /h/ in them and alternate them with words that do not have /h/. Make use of words that are most likely to take H insertion. For instance,

  1. Happy apple, heavy eggs, Eight hay sack.
  2. Henry has a bottle of holy olive oil in his house.
  3. Honest Hannah has a bottle of honey in her house.

Practice saying the lines making sure to pronounce the phoneme /h/ in words that have them and try not to insert /h/ into words that do not require it.  You can start slowly and increase your pace gradually to get optimum result.

Singing: This is another potent way of dealing with the H-factor. Deliberately collect songs that have the phoneme /h/ in them and sing. While singing, take care to pronounce the words of the songs appropriately, paying attention to each sound. Also, listen to songs that are rendered in standard English and sing along. Make conscious effort to accurately repeat what you hear.

Go Slowly: If you are a fast speaker, you may need to reduce the pace of your speech until you can confidently speak without falling into the embarrassing traps of the H-factor. Taking your time to pronounce your words carefully can help here; Don’t rush.

Repetition: Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Ruleholds that deliberate practice is the key to becoming world-class in any field. In the same vein, repeating the steps giving above will help achieve your goal of clear and ‘clean’ speech. 

H-factor is one of the most embarrassing pronunciation challenges. And worse, most people who have it do not know. However, if you can strategically plan your learning with the information given above, your speech will be free of H-factor in due course.

More sample sentences:

  1. The half-hearted climber fell down the high hill.
  2. He took hot tea and hamburger in the afternoon.
  3. I hope she took the whole family on holidays.
  4. Henry’s horse rides on a high onyx hill.

Email Right! (2)

Some business contacts will know you only through your email communication. The tone you convey in your online messages should be respectful, friendly, and approachable. In this article, I’m going to discuss email etiquette.

  • Check mail promptly. Generally, a response to email is expected within 24 hours. Ignoring messages from co-workers can erode efforts to create an open, honest, and cooperative work environment. On the other hand, responding every second may indicate that you are paying more attention to your email than your job.
  • Do not send messages when you are angry. Email containing sensitive, highly emotional messages may be easily misinterpreted because of the absence of nonverbal communication (facial expressions, voice tone, and body language). Sending a flame, the online term used to describe a heated, sarcastic, sometimes abusive message or posting, may prompt a receiver to send a retaliatory response.
  • Use a professional email address. If you work for a company, you should use your company email address. But if you use a personal email account-whether you are self-employed or just like using it occasionally for work-related correspondences, you should pick an email address that presents as a professional.
  • Be cautious with humour. Humour can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or body language. In a professional exchange, it’s better to leave humour out of emails unless you know the recipient well. Also, something that you think is funny might not be funny to someone else.
  • Keep your fonts classic. For business correspondence, keep your fonts, colours, and sizes classic. Your emails should be easy for other people to read.
  • Nothing is confidential. Always remember that all electronic communication may be stored and rebroadcast, so, don’t write anything you wouldn’t want everyone to see.
  • Be certain individuals need a copy of the email, and forward an email from another person only with the original writer’s permission.
  • Never address an email requesting general action to more than one person if you want to receive individual response. Sharing responsibility will lead to no one taking responsibility.
  • Follow company policy for personal use of email, and obtain a private email account if you are job hunting or sending many private messages to friends and relatives.

Source: Carol, M. Lehman Business Communication, Cengage Learning

Email Right! (1)

Business writing can impact on the whole business cycle; it can win business; it can lose business and it can communicate the framework by which results can be achieved. The evolution of technology has increased the options of written communication in business sphere, email instant messaging and web communication are some of the written communication options brought by technology. Many organisations now rely on email as the sole form of official correspondence. Therefore, understand how to use email communication effectively is important to success in almost every career. In the following line we shall examine some of the best practices of sending an email.

  • Send to single or multiple addressees. The same message can be sent to one or many recipients simultaneously. Sending an email message to multiple recipients simply involves keying the email address of each recipient into a distribution list and selecting the distribution list as the recipient.
  • Provide a useful subject line. A descriptive subject line assists the receiver’s understanding of the message and serves as a reference point for future reference to it. Additionally, a well-written subject line in an email message will help the receiver sort through an overloaded mailbox and read messages in priority order. When writing a subject line, think of the five W’s—Who, What, When, Where, and Why—to give you some clues for wording. For instance, “Credit Committee Meeting on Monday” is a more meaningful subject line than “important Meeting.”
  • Restate the subject in the body of the message. The body of the message should be a complete thought and should not rely on the subject line for elaboration. A good opening sentence might be a repetition of most of the subject line. Even if the reader skipped the subject line, the message would still be clear, logical, and complete.
  • Sequence your ideas based on anticipated reader reaction. Endeavour to organise your ideas deductively when a message contains good news or neutral information; and inductively when the message contains bad news or is intended to persuade. Email messages may be organised according to the sequence of ideas, for example, time order, order of importance, or geography. As a general rule, present the information in the order it is likely to be needed. For example, describe the nature and purpose of an upcoming meeting before giving the specifics (date, place, time).
  • Make careful use of jargon, technical words, and shortened terms. The use of jargon and technical terms is more common in email messages than in business letters. Such shortcuts save time with audiences who will understand the intent. In practicing empathy, however, consider whether the receiver will likely understand the terms used. And you may want to stick to universally acceptable shortened terms.
  • Use graphic highlighting to add emphasis. Enumerated or bulleted lists, tables, graphs, pictures, or other images may be either integrated into the content of the email or attached as supporting material.
  • Revise your email before clicking to send. Even the average email requires at least one pass to ensure that the intended message is clear, concise, and error-free. The number of passes increases depending on the number of people receiving the email and the complexity of the issue. Revising for brevity, accuracy, correctness, completeness and conciseness is a primary goal for messages read often on the run and on mobile devices.

Adhering to the important keys mentioned above will set you on the right path to using email effectively. I shall discuss some email etiquette in the part-two of this article.

The 4Cs of Etiquette

Good manners are requisite to being accepted into different social groups in a society. Since manners have been described as a sensitive awareness to the feelings of others, it is important to strive to retain this awareness at all times in other to maintain good manners. One way to retain this sensitivity is to consider etiquette as a system based on four major categories- courtesy, consideration, camaraderie, and class.

Courtesy concerns listening rather than talking; not interrupting someone, being particularly sensitive to the needs of the elderly, standing when someone enters a room or your workspace, if possible, and using phrases such as ‘Please,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘excuse me.’

Consideration acknowledges that there are many other people sharing a limited amount of space on the planet. This facet of etiquette involves keeping your voice down, not cutting people off in lines or on highways, e.t.c.

Camaraderie means thinking of yourself as a team player and not always trying to promote your own achievement. Try not to keep a meticulous record of every favour you are ever owed, else, you will feel miserable. Know that when you feel like you are part of a team, everyone will enjoy working with you.

Class concerns your demeanour: this should aim at being cordial rather than dour (unfriendly). Be pleasant and do your best to please; even when others are unpleasant or direct foul moods at you.

Etiquette is based on a system. Over time, the system will work for you – if you can only get out of your way long enough to allow it to.