One of the keys to success in your relationships, employment, and in fact every sphere of human existence, is to develop your interpersonal communication skills.
From my experiences as a psychologist, I have noticed that many of the problems that individuals and couples seek assistance for are related to interpersonal communication problems. The two components of communication are 1. outwards; and 2. inwards; and problems can occur in either or both.
Outward and Inward Communication
The “outward” component involves how we express ourselves and of course what we express.
The “inward” component involves the attribution of meaning to what others are communicating to us. The problem that often occurs is that the meaning that we attribute to what someone is communicating, may not be the meaning intended by the person.
In fact, communicating our intended meaning to others, by finding the right words, the appropriate sentence construction for the context and circumstances, the appropriate body language, etc, can be quite difficult. In order for those to whom we’re communicating to attribute the same meaning as we intended is far more difficult – in fact to get it 100% accurate is no doubt quite rare. So mis-communication occurs.
Good Interpersonal Communication Skills – More than Talking
Communication is far more than mere talking; it is how we make our way in the world, and it is how we maintain our own sense of self. Communication is like radar in that it provides a sounding board for our thoughts and ideas as we bounce them off others.
Depending on the audience we communicate in many different ways. With partners and very close friends we may communicate very personal thoughts; sometimes they may be thoughts and ideas that we wouldn’t want to share with a wider audience as we may be concerned about how they will be received. Hence there is “insider” communication and “outsider” communication that depends on the audience and the environment; and knowing the etiquette of communication is therefore of vital importance.
There is a lot we can do to improve our interpersonal communication, and decrease the chances of mis-communication.
Communication can be broken down to process and content – that is, the way we communicate, and what we communicate. Improving our interpersonal communication skills is about:
- Improving the process of outward (speaking, writing) communication across all of life’s settings;
- Ensuring that the content of outward communication is appropriate to the context and circumstances;
- Improving the process of inward (listening, reading) communication across all of life’s settings;
- Monitoring our attributions of inward communication (what others are saying or writing), and learning techniques to improve the accuracy of the intended meaning.
If you feel that your interpersonal communication lets you down at times, that you are often misunderstood by others, or that you struggle to understand others, please arrange a time to come and see me. You may be surprised that as you develop your interpersonal communication skills, how it can improve your relationships and how you relate with the world.
Author: Greg Turner, B App Sc, Grad Dip App Sc (App Psych), Cert GMH, MAPS.
Brisbane Psychologist Greg Turner is a national leader in the field of transcultural mental health, after spending over a decade in senior positions at the Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre. He sees his role as a facilitator to enable clients to recover their psychological strength, grow as human beings, and become equipped with strategies to deal with life’s problems as they present into the future.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Greg Turner, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.