Tuesday, July 31, 2007



WHAT holds friend, lovers, and families together? What tears them apart? What makes people popular and interesting? What makes them boring and dull? The answers to these and many other questions can be related to interpersonal communications.

Interpersonal communication may be described as a communication that takes place between two people on a one-to-one basis. Effectiveness at interpersonal communications leads to positives relations with friends, families, colleagues and business clients and the lack of it leads to relationship deterioration. Although interpersonal communication is important, yet, very few people realise the importance of understanding and refining the skills involved in it. This could be due to the common brief that conversation skills come naturally and there is no need to put an extra effort to learn it.

A variety of training programmes are offered to train people in topics like, presentation skills motivation and leadership. But very little attention is given to this aspects of human interaction. It is not my intention to undermine the importance of these programmes but I am highlighting the fact that this important skill-interpersonal communications-is ignored. Being good at interpersonal skills is one of the greatest assets anyone can have. So let us review some guides to having more effective interpersonal skills.


The first key to an effective interpersonal interaction is creating interest of the other person in yourself and in your talk. Interestingly, people are more interested in themselves rather than others, so to incite their interest in you, take an interest in them. Dale Carnegine in his famous book How to Win Friends and influence People has repeatedly mentioned the importance of taking interest in others. If you are talking about the weather, traffic jams or share market, chances are that people may not be interested because everyone is using the same strategy in starting a conversation. A better way would be asking questions about their family, profession, achievements, and their views on the subjects which interest them. Creating interest and catching the attention leads to mutual stimulation and thus starts good conversation.


Building a rapport is closely related to the first point which means creating an environment where the other person feels easy and confident talking to you. There are many ways of building rapport with people-chief among them are maintaining good eye contact, mirroring their body postures, repeating what they say and the best magic – mentioning their names. Calling people by name is the most powerful strategy to build trust and mutual liking. Many times, I call people through the telephone requesting for information, and just by asking their names and repeatedly mentioning; it, most of the time I succeed in getting the information I need. A person’s name is the most melodious word to his / her ears, and if we want them to positively responds to us, we should repeat it as often as possible.


Self confidence makes for good interaction with others and the lack of it breaks it. When we are confident, we present ourselves as socially equal to others and they respect us. Additionally, self confidence creates a positive energy which puts us in positive vibration with others. On the other hand, non-confident people make even the confident people nervous. I always tell the participants in my training programmes. “ If you don’t have faith in yourself, how can you expect others to believe you.”


It is a famous proverb that two is company and three is a crowd. I believe that there’s a company”. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not referring to three persons, because we are talking about interpersonal communication which involves two persons. I am referring to the three most important skills of interpersonal communication namely questioning, listening, and silence skills. Most of the effective communicators use these three important competencies. The use of these three will not only make you a good communicator but it will also make you a very powerful person. Three issues to avoid Religion, polities and race are subjects which should be avoided in interpersonal communications, especially with people who are new and little known to us. People are sensitive about their religious beliefs because it is something personal and intimate. Most people hold religious and spiritual beliefs for reasons difficult to explain, and challenging them will only earn hatred and loss of friendship. The decades old fight between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, the horrific war in Bosnia, and the never-ending conflict in Palestine are some of the results derived from religious insensitivities. Politics is yet another subject which is deemed an interpersonal taboo. It is irritating to try and change someone’s political affiliation. The third most dangerous subject for interpersonal discourse is race. It is a highly explosive topic for discussion and thus, must be avoided.


Taking an honest interest in others and understanding their points of view and positions play a catalytic role for good communications between two persons. Honesty also means, one must be sincerely interested in others and not just artificially keen. When someone is mechanical with another person, most of the time the person at the receiving end recognizes it.


Optimism, the trait of thinking positively is a very infections quality and it leads to better understanding. People with optimism indulge in discussion that touch on the brighter side of life. No doubt there are a lot of problems, difficulties and sad topics which can be discussed but there are also positive topics which should be discussed in daily conversations. Even if one meets a person who initiates negative topics, a good communicator should skillfully lead the other person to positive topics. We may not realize it but negative topics makes us sad, while positive topics lead to happy feelings, so why not opt for the second. Interpersonal communications, the skill which enables us to effectively relate with others, is a key skill for personal effectiveness. We may be good in speaking and talking to others but that does not mean we are good at real communication. Real communication between two people in addition to basic skills also require other social talents, some of which have been stated in this article.