Interpersonal Intelligence and Effective Workplace Communication

Interpersonal Intelligence and Effective Workplace Communication

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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.

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

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