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Interpersonal communication in the simplest terms could be closed in the pattern: sender-message-recipient. We know, however, that despite the fact that this model is true, it does not exhaust the topic of nuances related to interpersonal communication. As usual, "the devil is in the details" - get to know them and find out what types of interpersonal communication we distinguish.

Interpersonal communicationis a phenomenon that accompanies us from the beginning of our lives. The very first cry of a newborn baby is his message flowing into the world, to the other person ("interpersonal" means "between people"): "I'm here", "I'm cold", "I need …" etc. It is the basic tool for building and maintaining social relations . It is thanks to communication that we exchange thoughts, ideas, observations, warn each other about potential threats, conduct conflicts and build alliances. Each of us is born with a range of skills in this area, but thanks to experience, socialization and all kinds of learning processes, we develop the scope of our competences in the field of interpersonal communication. It is true that, as in the case of other skills, we have certain predispositions or tendencies that affect our effectiveness in this area, but communication, like any other competence, can be subjected to training. It is worth taking a look at your interpersonal communication methods - how they shape our reality and which elements of it should be improved. The way we communicate affects our relationships, private and professional lives. Actually, there is no realm of life unrelated to any degree of communication.

Every act of communication is a process, usually it contains some basic elements such as: context, language, symbols etc. We constantly send messages to the world involuntarily and the environment we want it or not, reads and interprets them. It is important that the method of communication is adapted to the recipient.

How to communicate, i.e. a recipe for communication

A lot has been said about the complexity of communication mechanisms, but when considering your own development in this field, it is worth taking a look at its components. Communication is an act of naturesocial, so the requirement for its existence is the presence of at least two individuals. The social context is the number of people involved in a given act of communication and other determinants of this phenomenon. Each person in a given communication process has their own way of coding and decoding the message, which is why individual characteristics and skills have such a great influence on the entire process. It is because of these differences that the act of communication is creative, dynamic and often unpredictable. The effectiveness of communication also depends on the extent to which participants use the same symbols. Often, the need or necessity of understanding forces them to assimilate and use signs that are understandable to both parties.

Interpersonal communication: types

Verbal communication

We usually associate conversation with interpersonal communication. However, oral communication is only part of a larger whole. Its unquestionable advantage is the fact that it enables direct and fairly precise building of the message. It also allows you to minimize any disruptions. Realizing that the message has been incorrectly received, the sender can immediately correct the statement, clarify misinterpretations or interpret the message that is inconsistent with its intention.

The verbal aspect of communication depends on the knowledge of the language of both parties and the efficiency of the hearing and speech organs - the diction or loudness of the sender is not without significance.

Thinking about development in this area, it is worth remembering that verbal communication gives the possibility of biased or one-sided building of information. Unfortunately, it allows you to mix facts with opinions and impressions, and does not avoid stereotypes that help to organize the reality. He is often disturbed by unconscious mistakes. Sometimes when we try to use a verbal message more or less consciously to support self-presentation, it becomes inauthentic, especially when our body says something other than our mouth.

Non-verbal communication

Remember that silence is also a message. Non-verbal interpersonal communication usually conveys more than the words spoken. It is more difficult to control, but it is the majority of what we want to convey to the recipient. This part of communication is not only the commonly known body language, i.e. our gestures, body posture, facial expressions, tics and small gestures that we involuntarily make, but also our appearance, outfit, tone of voice, smell, eye contact, physical contact, touch, distance between the sender and the recipient, the organization of space, etc. The role this form of communication plays in relations between human beings, sometimes subtlegesture means more in interaction than a hundred words. Cultural differences are also of great importance in this respect, each community has a characteristic arsenal of communication gestures and the intensity of body expression.

Part of the non-verbal message, regardless of culture or skills in this area, we read quite instinctively - these are elements that are constant for the homo sapiens genre.

Often, however, by acquiring incomplete or imprecise knowledge in the field of non-verbal communication, we can start to re-interpret the body language of others. What we say without using words consists of numerous dependencies, it is influenced by many factors, so simply drawing conclusions or finding the "other bottom" of the message by force may make the whole process difficult. A common example of folded hands, which can be easily interpreted as a closed attitude related to a lack of willingness to communicate, the need to withdraw, etc., may in fact mean "I'm cold". It is worth remembering that the consistency of the verbal and non-verbal message is important. It is important, therefore, to know your limitations and strengths in this regard, and excessive interpretation of other people's gestures does not contribute to efficient interpersonal communication.

Indirect communication

Communicating by means of a letter or a telephone also has its specificity. This method is extremely practical in situations where the sender and receiver are far away. Creating the possibility of communicating via mail, telephone or the Internet was always associated with a civilization leap. Unfortunately, the limited contact between the sender and the recipient requires the construction of simple and unambiguous messages, which is not always easy. Lack of direct contact or the possibility of an immediate response is fraught with a high risk of misunderstandings and misunderstandings. Fortunately, new technologies to some extent provide solutions which, e.g. by means of a real-time video conversation, increase the chance of a successful interaction.

Worth knowing

Development of communication skills

Sometimes, to improve your interpersonal communication, you just need to work on yourself a little. There is a huge selection of literature and films on the market encouraging you to improve your communication. It is worth taking advantage of workshops and trainings that, in safe conditions, under the supervision of a specialist, allow you to train newly learned ways of communicating in an interpersonal relationship. As with any skill, interpersonal communication skills can be developed, however, usually permanentresults come from practice. Reading about swimming is not the same as going to the swimming pool with an instructor.

Sometimes, however, it may turn out that our communication difficulties are not only related to small skills, but to a deeper problem. The way we communicate with others and with the world results from difficult experiences. It may be that self-made attempts or participation in the workshop will prove insufficient. Then it is worth going to the therapist's office and using the help of a specialist. Sometimes the discovery of the causes of problems in this area and the development of new solutions and mechanisms affect the quality of life in general.

What makes communication difficult?

Regardless of the type of interpersonal communication, it is fraught with the risk of distortion. Communication barriers or the so-called "noise in the channel" are factors that cannot be completely ruled out. The list of potential difficulties could be really long, but it is worth taking a look at the most common ones:

  • message not adapted to the recipient;
  • use of different languages, symbols;
  • coming from different social strata, cultures, professional backgrounds, age groups, etc.;
  • biological factors, e.g. a malfunctioning speech or hearing organ;
  • emotional state of the sender and recipient, difficulties in maintaining attention;
  • external disturbances e.g. noise, too large group of people communicating, too large distance between the participants of interaction;
  • excess information in one message;
  • influence on transmitting and receiving the message of beliefs, stereotypes, scope of knowledge, previous experiences, etc.;
  • not able to accept or understand the interlocutor's perspective;
  • fatigue level;
  • message inconsistency etc.

What promotes communication?

The art of communication, like any other art, requires a bit of "talent", i.e. natural predispositions or inclinations, but also regular work. If you want to improve your effectiveness in interpersonal communication, it is worth looking at several areas:

  • Listen actively.Show your interlocutor your interest and willingness to understand. Make eye contact, inform your interlocutor that he is being listened to. Nodding, interrogation, paraphrasing or the occasional "aha" will allow your interlocutor to feel listened to. Of course, if you are not sincerely interested in this interaction, then the "mechanical" head nodding may not be credible and may not do the job as a result.
  • Remove, reduce "noise in the channel" , be aware of communication barriers.If you suspect that you may not be well understood, use simple, unambiguous language, use short sentences. If I know that my interlocutor has a left ear hearing loss or does not know Polish well, and I intend to communicate effectively with him, then I have to correct the existing communication barriers. Speaking towards the right ear or using simple phrases may be more than enough in these cases. There is nothing wrong with making sure that we can hear each other well or understand each other properly. A sincere willingness to agree is usually an effective tool.
  • Be clear about the purpose and intent of the message.If I don't know what the message is for, I won't know if the communication act itself was effective. If the conversation or relationship is really important to us, it is worth pausing for a moment and looking at your intentions and goals. Sometimes it is a good idea to inform the interlocutor about our goal, it can improve the whole process and make it easier for the other party to interpret our intentions correctly.
  • You are responsible for your message.If you already know your goal, are aware of your intentions, do not avoid responsibility for the message. It may not be easy or enjoyable, but taking responsibility for your words, being able to admit your ignorance, or being aware of your bias are all factors that increase communication effectiveness. It's easy to say "She doesn't understand me!", It's harder to think, "Okay, what can I do to be better understood?"
  • Don't judge- give feedback. Providing feedback, that is, bringing the interlocutor closer to our perspective and how we understood him, is conducive to effective communication. However, it is important to relate to facts and your feelings when building it, avoiding interpretation, generalization and evaluation. Avoid using phrases like "You always do that" or "They never understand." They are usually not true and are breeding ground for misunderstanding. It will be more advantageous to refer to a specific fact from a given interaction, for example: "When you are not looking at me during a conversation, I have the impression that you do not understand me."
  • It is worth using the message "ja" , eg "when you speak to me in this tone, I start to get nervous" instead of: "You always annoy me!".
  • Analyzing your skills.We are often not aware of how we communicate with others. Therefore, it is worth doing a little experiment and recording a video with a short statement. It may turn out that we unknowingly insert a disruptive word or vocalise, maybe over-gesticulate, or what our body and our mouth say are completely inconsistent. Raising awarenessand diagnosis of resources and deficits in interpersonal communication may be the beginning of development in this field.

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