Interpersonal Communication Skills: Definition, Elements & 10 Must Have Skills

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What Is Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal Communication refers to the exchange of information, feelings, and ideas between/among two or more individuals. We all engage in it – consciously or unconsciously, and that is why it is important to know the importance of interpersonal communication in an organization. Hopefully, you found this interpersonal communications definition to be very straightforward.,

If you understand the simple and short definition above, then it would be easier to have a good grasp of interpersonal communication skills meaning or the components of interpersonal skills. Just keep in mind that the following related areas will be addressed in this guide in an interconnected way:

• Elements of Communication
• Elements of Personal Communication
• Elements of interpersonal Communication
• Elements of Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal Communication Definition Examples

Yesterday, Jane spoke to Collins. Today, Philips will learn how to write a cover letter from Collins. Right now, I am writing to you. If I am to encapsulate all these into a phrase, I would say those scenarios were examples of interpersonal communication.

Interpersonal communication could either be verbal or non-verbal. Verbal includes the use of written or spoken words. Non-verbal translates to the use of gestures, body language, paralinguistic cues, dressing, eye contact, facial expressions, non-word expressions, tone of voice, and so on.

According to research, we use non-verbal communication more than we use verbal communication. With non-verbal communication, “not speaking” is communication itself. Yes, your silence can mean a lot to the other person depending on how it is perceived, and it can mean something reasonable to you depending on your intentions.

According to research, we use non-verbal communication more than we use verbal communication. With non-verbal communication, “not speaking” is communication itself. Click To Tweet

Importance of Interpersonal Communication Skills

I am sure you now know the interpersonal communication definition. It is now pertinent that we discuss the importance of interpersonal communication skills. Indeed, its importance is not far-fetched. the fact that we cannot do without communication has established its relevance.

So, what are interpersonal communication skills? Interpersonal communication skills are the essential traits you use while interacting with others. As we do need to communicate and we must communicate, so we must also master some interpersonal communication skills.

Interpersonal communication skills have a wide range of relevance. It cuts across relationships, workplaces, family, friendships, among other areas of life. Let us leave out the fact that you need to communicate; generally, there are a lot of people in your workplace. You would need to work together with other people in order to achieve goals in your workplace. In this case, you need good interpersonal communication skills. Hence, the need to discuss its relevance in the workplace:

  1. Perfect management and leadership skill:
    It is not so easy to lead a team at the place of work. There may be a lot to face as the leader of a group or even being an ordinary team member.

    To achieve the aim of a team, proper interpersonal skills are necessary. And this is where interpersonal communication skills prove their importance. You may have come across team leaders or managers who do not know how to communicate well. You can testify to the fact that their lack of interpersonal communication skills has left negative imprints on the performance of the group.

    We all need to master interpersonal skills if we want to have great managerial and leadership prowess.
  2. Conflict management:
    Even, lovers and family members quarrel. So, won’t it be abnormal if employees don’t?

    In essence, conflict is unavoidable in your workplace. It must always happen, but it doesn’t have to be messy. The problem is not the unavoidable emergence of conflict, but how we handle it. This is then the importance of interpersonal skills is realized.

    When conflicts appear, their disappearance may be due to having great interpersonal skills. You need the ability to speak and convey your ideas to the conflicting parties. Master your interpersonal skills well for this.
  3. Personal relationships:
    Building personal relationships in the workplace is good. It leads to the smooth execution of duties. It also ensures the achievement of the workplace’s mission and vision.

    When you build healthy personal relationships, then you are on the verge of being a good team player. All these are dependent on how well you can harness your interpersonal communication skills in building and maintaining personal relationships in your workplace.
  4. Problem-solving:
    It is being said that “a problem shared is half solved.” There are times when you may face some problems in your place of work. How well you can communicate these problems to well-meaning people may determine how soon the problem will be solved. You need the help of others in society.

    As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” Some people live alone in the desert or wherever. Still, somehow, they need other living things to survive. So, no matter how you want to think about it, you will arrive at the inescapable conclusion that nobody can survive on his/her own.

    Through the use of interpersonal communication skills, individuals in the place of work tend to come together to brainstorm and debate. Their cooperation and contributions will make them arrive at a solution to the problem at hand.
  5. Achievement of business goals:
    In the place of work, communication could be horizontal or vertical. The horizontal line of communication is the one done between or among individuals of the same level in the organization. The vertical line of communication is one that happens to start from individuals of higher ranks to those of lower classes.

    All lines of communication must yield effective results for the parties involved, and should help in achieving the business goals of the workplace. And interpersonal skills could be employed in order to make this happen.
  6. Employee motivation and recognition:
    Perfect use of interpersonal skills could mean that employers would be able to motivate their employees to work better. Also, employers will recognize employees’ efforts towards the progress of the workplace. The effect of this is that they would work better in order to ensure the success of the organization.

    According to a survey carried out by the American Psychological Association (APA), 51% of Americans said they felt valued by their employers through recognition of their efforts and this recognition has led to better job satisfaction and performance.
Interpersonal Communication Elements
Interpersonal Communication Elements

Elements of Interpersonal Communication

Jane picked up the telephone and asked Collins, “How are you?”, Collins replied, “I am fine. Thank you.” That is an example of interpersonal communication, right? Now, some elements of communication work together to arrive at a successful process of interpersonal communication. What are these elements? See them below.

  1. The communicators:
    For any interpersonal communication to come to take place, there have to be two or more people involved. This has been explained in the interpersonal communication definition. The parties involved are being referred to as communicators.

    Their classification is as follows: the sender and the receiver. The sender is the one who originates the message/information/idea and sends it to someone else. And the other person who receives the message and acts on it is the receiver. In this case, Jane and Collins are the communicators.
  2. The message:
    Remember, we have discussed that communication could be verbal and non-verbal. This means that the message does not have to be words of mouth only; it could also be in the form of gestures, facial expressions, and so on.

    The message is the information, idea, or instruction passed across from the sender to the receiver. It is often said that the meaning of words resides in the receiver. Messages may mean different things to the sender and the receiver. This may be the effect of noise, context, and other factors. In the above example, “How are you?” is the message.
  3. Noise:
    Anything that distorts the free flow of interpersonal communication is the noise. The noise could be technical, semantic, psychological, as the case may be.

    Examples of noise include the use of complicated or ambiguous words, the emotional state of the communicators, cultural differences, environmental noise, and so on.
  4. Feedback:
    This entails the response of the receiver to the message he receives from the sender. At the point of giving the feedback, role-reversal takes place. That is, the receiver becomes the sender and the sender becomes the receiver.

    Feedback could likewise be verbal or non-verbal. In relation to the example given earlier; “I am fine, thank you;” was the feedback from Collins.
  5. Context:
    The context of communication influences the message and the whole communication process. The context could be social or situational. Situational context refers to the place the interpersonal communication is taking place. For example, in the office, in the room, etc.

    The social context includes the status of the communicators, past relationships between the parties, and so on. Of course, you would realize that you cannot communicate with your employer the same way you do with your colleagues.
  6. Channel:
    This is the physical means through which the communicators can exchange messages. The channel could be a microphone, telephone, vision, or speech, among others. In the case of the above example, the telephone is the channel.

Relevant Articles:

10 Must Have Interpersonal Communication Skills

I have earlier mentioned that all areas of life need interpersonal skills. Even your workplace needs those. And it is well understood that there exists work diversity. The interpersonal skills below are general skills that employers would value in you:

  1. Speaking prowess: Ability to carry your audience along and pass across meaningful messages to them.
  2. Conflict management: This means your ability to handle and manage misunderstandings and/or disagreements
  3. Empathy: This is the ability to identify with other peoples’ emotions and show concern for their feelings.
  4. Leadership: Indeed, one must prove that he or she is exceptional and can drive a group to achieve the set goals and objectives of the group.
  5. Listening: It is being said that active listening is effective leadership. According to a study carried out by Wright State University, workers who listen well could show their commitment, trust, and cohesive bonds to their workplace.
  6. Negotiation: A good negotiator could be a good problem solver and will be able to harness other people’s ideas, filter them and arrive at the best results.
  7. Positive attitude: All employers want their employees to be friendly and have the right attitude towards work. Same with employees too. When you have a positive attitude towards work, it would birth significant commitment and so lead to success at work.
  8. Teamwork: A good team player would motivate the group, resolve any conflict quickly and effectively, that may be, communicate ideas well to achieve the goals of the group, collaborate with others to achieve the set goals, and give accolades to the entire group.
  9. Flexibility: This means not being rigid in your ways and methods. You accommodate other peoples’ ideas, adjust to new opinions if they are good ones.
  10. Courtesy: Everyone deserves a little bit of respect. One must realize this and deal with others with respect, love, morals and humility.

How to Develop Interpersonal Communication Skills?

  1. Interpersonal Communication: How to Win Clients and Influence Teams
    Know exactly what to say, gain communication skills, and master the people skills … and job hunting.
  2. Interpersonal Communication 101
  3. Advanced Management Skills Training: Become an effective manager, using actionable steps and hands-on projects to maximize learning, with your own personal business coach!


How Do You Describe Your Interpersonal Skills on a Resume?

You should do this by keeping the interpersonal skills you are describing relevant to the job that is being applied for. Take a look at the following examples (for those applying for managerial positions):

  • A motivated individual who can motivate others through strong leadership communication.
  • Able to work with others as part of a team.

How do You Explain Interpersonal Skills in an Interview?

Firstly, during the interview, show that you have good interpersonal skills by practicing it while answering the interview questions. Do the following:

  • Articulate properly
  • Convey information and ideas clearly
  • Listen attentively to the interviewer
  • Give brief and fluent answers
  • Practice non-verbal communication skills like maintaining eye contact, being conscious of your body language, etc.

To explain your interpersonal skills, clearly state them, and give examples to show that you practiced them in various situations. For example, you could say something like this after stating that you have good grammar skills:

“My co-workers ask me to help them check documents for errors before submission.”


If you want to be successful in your career and in life, then you need to develop your Interpersonal Communication skills. Understand the elements of effective communication and gradually improve your communication skills.

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Kalpataru Biswas

Kalpataru is a Software Sales, and Product Marketing professional. He writes on business development, personal development, personal finance, and career development. He has more than 10 years of experience in driving revenue through data-driven Sales & Marketing.