By Ainul Haliza Binti Abdul Hair, Lecturer, School of American Degree Program
HOW TO IMPROVE INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION IN THE WORKPLACE
You can develop your interpersonal skills by practising good communication and setting goals for improvement. To improve your interpersonal skills, consider the following tips.
- Figure out what you need to improve. Identify areas of interpersonal communication that you can strengthen by asking for feedback from colleagues, managers, family or friends.
- Watch others. Learn good interpersonal skills by observing coworkers, company pleaders and professionals you admire and respect. Watch and listen to how they communicate and what body language they use. Note details such as their tone of voice, speed of speaking and how they engage with others. Apply those traits to your own interactions and relationships.
- Learn to control your emotions. Wait until you are calm to have conversations with colleagues. You are more likely to communicate confidently and effectively if you have a positive attitude and are not stressed or upset.
- Reflect on your interactions. Keep notes or a journal about your conversations and interactions at work so you can learn how to handle or communicate things better. Consider whether you could have reacted differently or used certain words or body language more effectively. Note positive interactions, as well, so you can understand why they were successful.
- Practise your skills. Put yourself in positions where you can build relationships and use your interpersonal skills. For example, you might join a group that has organised meetings or social events. This could be an industry-specific group you found through a professional organisation or a shared interest or hobby group. Attend events to learn and observe how to communicate and behave with others.
- Acknowledge others. Pay attention to your friends and colleagues and make efforts to interact with them. Compliment co-workers on their hard work or good ideas. Bring your colleague a cup of coffee. Ask team members how their week was or what their interests are to get to know them better. Offer to help someone who is having a bad day or a difficult time. These steps can help you build stronger, more positive working relationships.
- Avoid distractions. Put away your phone or mobile device when interacting or communicating with others. Give them your full attention and avoid the temptation to check your email or look at a text message. By staying focused, you can listen and understand more effectively.
- Take classes. Sign up for workshops or courses that can help you improve your interpersonal skills. Tools such as basic online videos might be free, while you might have to pay for more advanced or in-person training. If you want to develop your verbal communication skills, for instance, you might take a public speaking course.
- Get a mentor. Ask an individual you respect or admire to help you improve your interpersonal skills. Your mentor could be a trusted colleague, a current or former employer or professor, a family member or anyone else you think highly of. You might even hire a professional career or communication coach.
- Record yourself. Use a video or voice recorder to tape yourself speaking, then watch or listen to it to identify where you can improve your communication skills. Note things you would like to change or develop, such as your tone of voice, speed of talking, expression, word choice or body language. Take recordings periodically so you can assess your progress.
Interpersonal communication skills can help you be productive in the workplace, build strong and positive relationships with your colleagues and complete team projects smoothly and effectively. The benefits of good interpersonal skills can affect the morale and productivity of your entire team or department.