Interpersonal communication as the tool of establishing personal communication becomes the subject of analysis in the research paper. The research question to be answered in this paper is the following: What are the methods and principles of interpersonal communication that help to improve and make personal communication more effective? The main ideas that are to be discussed in the paper are means of effective verbal communication, the importance of non-verbal communication as well as the ability to listen as the main prerequisite for building effective interpersonal communication. The final part of the paper assesses the information gathered during the research and provides a plan for the improvement of personal communication skills.
Interpersonal communication is an integral part of every human’s life. Interpersonal communication can bring both joy and negative experiences depending on the way it is built and the communication means that are used in the process of it. John Davison Rockefeller claimed that “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee” and he “will pay more for that ability than any other under the sun”. All people are social beings that mean that they all live among people and make their livelihoods (reaching goals, satisfying needs, earning money) in no other way but through cooperation, communication that can be contact, indirect or imaginary. Communication as the process of successive commonly oriented in time and space actions, reactions, and behavioral acts exchanges the information and its interpretation, mutual acceptance, understanding, mutual assessment, empathy, the formation of sympathies or antipathies, the nature of relationships, beliefs, attitudes, psychological effects, the resolution of the contradictions, and the joint activities. Thus, every human being in his/her life, interacting with other people, acquires practical skills in the field of communication.
Analyzing the factors that influence the effectiveness of interaction process, the paper mentions such attribute as self-concept and determines its influence on the communication. To be more specific, every human being searches for his/her identity, unique image, which will be admired by the person and will be comfortable and attractive to others. One can build his/her self-concept over the years, finding a successful solution, slowly moving to the realization of the individuality details. Finally, when a clear picture of self-presentation emerges, there appears ease, confidence, and awareness of one’s own strength that significantly improves the quality as well as the outcomes of any communication process. Therefore, the more self-concept is developed the more successful and effective is the communication.
The importance of the paper is that it provides tips for achieving mutual understanding in interpersonal communication and defines the main elements of communication process. The definition of the interpersonal communication states it is the interaction of at least two people, in which they in turn act as the speaker and as the listener. The ability to listen to the interlocutor appears to be one of the most important communication skills as well as one of the least practiced and utilized one. People not able to listen to their partner face a lot of problems in interpersonal communication. The paper will also concentrate on the types of communication and their influence on interpersonal communication. In particular, the paper will consider the influence of verbal and non-verbal communication means on the productiveness and the result of the communication process.
The Ability to Listen and Hear
Communication as the process consists of seven major elements that include such concepts as sender, encoding, communication channel, ideas, decoding, feedback, and receiver. The effective communication depends on successful contact and transfer of ideas through communication channels with the help of encoding from the sender to the receiver who is supposed to provide a feedback. Therefore, the ability to listen is one of the main parts of the communication process as no one can provide any feedback without listening to what has been said. Its efficiency directly and significantly influences the effectiveness of communication. Listening is effective when there is a continuous evaluation of what has been said by both companions. Every participant of the communication process should also be able to "listen" to himself/herself. Any business conversation should evoke the interest in the minds of its participants. Interest is an emotional manifestation of cognitive needs of the individual. It provokes attention and active thinking. If one can keep the interest of interlocutor to the communication process or to a specific subject, then the partner's involuntary attention switches to post arbitrary one.
Nevertheless, it should be remembered that during the dialogue with the direct auditory perception on behalf of the interlocutor, the meaning is reduced, while the role of the situation, facial expressions, tests, intonation significantly increases. This explains why the language that sounds is easier and more accessible. Although there exist the rules of external displays of affection in business communication. Restraint in intonation, the strength of voice, facial expressions, and gestures of the interlocutor have a stronger impact than the unrestraint shouting, loud voice, and excessive gestures.
Psychologists classify listening into the following groups:
- listening to meet interests and needs (household conversation, cinema, theater, television, and radio);
- listening as a learning process;
- listening as a process in which both analysis and evaluation of what has been heard is implemented;
- listening as a hard work, which consumes as much energy as the language.
“To listen” means to physically perceive the sound (an individual does not respond to familiar sounds: the constant noise of cars for residents of big cities or natural sounds for rural residents). ''To hear" means to perceive sounds of specific content. This process includes the act of thought processes and higher mental processes. People quickly get used to the noise. However, the noise causes stress, which affects activities, including mental. In noisy conditions, people think and make decisions slowly and make more mistakes.
Listening is an active process that becomes possible as a result of varying the speed of speech and mental activity of the listener. Usually, people talk at a speed of 125 words per minute, and a person can perceive speech at up to 400 words per minute. Such difference between the rate of speech and the mental abilities can cause inattention, especially when one talks slowly or uninteresting. To hear and listen, one needs to pay with attention. Listening is an active process in the sense that companions share the responsibility for communication. The external unconscious manifestation of attentive listening is expressed by the specific position: the companion faces the speaker and establishes eye contact with him/her. To listen and hear means to make no distractions, maintain constant attention, constant eye contact and use position as a means of communication.
The position of the body can express not only the desire but also the unwillingness to listen and communicate. If the companion has slightly leaned forward and looked favorably on the speaker, this means: "I am all - attention." If the companion has casually sprawled in a chair, he/she is clearly not interested in dialogue. Crossed arms on one’s chest mean, usually the defense, that is the unwillingness to communicate on a specific topic. If the companion is sedentary and is not looking at the person with whom he/she communicates, it is likely that he has long been thinking about anything else except the conversation. The style of hearing and listening reflects human’s personality, character, interests, the manner of speaking, the manner of listening, and individuality.
Verbal Means of Communication
The peculiarities and results of interaction between people largely depend on how they perceive, understand, reproduce, interpret the behavior of one another, and evaluate their own and other participants’ possibilities. Thus, the perception influences the process of interaction accompanying it either by mutual understanding or misunderstanding, by the ability or inability to predict the behavior of the communication partner. Since every human is a social being, his/her cognitive activity is realized in a social context, usually with the help of verbal communication. Verbal communication is the communication through words and speech. It is the process of information sharing and emotional interaction between people or groups with the help of speech means. Verbal communication in which the main information is transmitted with the help of speech is distinguished from non-verbal communication, where the impact occurs through changes in intonation and facial expressions, gestures, posture change, the distance of communication and other non-verbal means.
The most important requirement for verbal communication is the clarity of content, the exposition of ideas so that companions can understand one another. It should be admitted that it is not always simple, as very few people know how to express their thoughts clearly and immediately, formulating the most important things and ideas that the speaker wants to share. At the same time, when one person says something in an unclear manner, the other listens inattentively, distracting, and thinking about his/her things or understanding it through the prism of his/her emotions and prejudices.
In order to use verbal means of communication effectively and improve the communication skills, people should learn the following abilities, skills, and techniques of high-quality verbal communication that develop a supportive communication climate (learning objective no. 12):
- Ability to speak with theses, clearly formulating the main idea;
- The art of speaking clearly and convincingly;
- Ability to listen carefully, following the interlocutor;
- Hear what the speaker says;
- Not get distracted by other things. A good criterion is the ability to literally repeat what the speaker has said.
- The ability to listen and the ability to understand what has been said. Sometimes companion talks confusedly, starting from the end, side, and being distracted by unnecessary thongs and skipping important. Therefore, the listener faces difficulties understanding the speaker. In such situation the speaker is forced to perform most of the intellectual work for the speaker, to restore order in what the speaker says, search for the main thing and help the companion understand his/her own thoughts.
- An excellent ability is an internal translator, the ability to translate the words of the interlocutor in the right direction for the speaker. Most helpful is the positive interpreter, which implies the ability to understand the best intentions of the interlocutor.
Non-verbal Means of Communication
Despite the fact that the words are well suited for the transmission of logic information, feelings are better transmitted non-verbally. According to the assessment of scientists, 93% of the information transmitted during an emotional communication, passes through the non-verbal communication channels. Non-verbal communication is difficult to control even by professional artists. They need to enter the imaginary scenario, which appears to be a difficult creative process that does not always work and requires rehearsals. Therefore, non-verbal communication is much more reliable than verbal. People can control the parameters of the non-verbal communication. Although people will never be able to control all the parameters since a person can not simultaneously hold more than 5-7 factors in mind.
Non-verbal communication usually happens spontaneously and unintentionally. It has been gifted by nature as a product of thousands of years of natural selection. Therefore, non-verbal communication is a very capacious and compact phenomenon. Mastering the language of non-verbal communication, people gain effective and economical language. Blinking, nodding, waving one’s hand, one can convey his/her feelings better and faster than would have done it with the help of words.
Communicative partners can express their feeling and emotions without a word. Nevertheless, being used on its own, non-verbal language is also used in the process of verbal communication. With its help, people can:
- reiterate, explain or refute the information transmitted with the help of words;
- share information consciously or unconsciously;
- express emotions and feelings;
- regulate the course of the conversation;
- control and influence others;
- compensate the lack of words (for example, when one is learning to ride a bicycle).
Communicating with the partner, one sees his/her facial expressions, gestures that tell the partner what the interlocutor really thinks and feels. Thus, a sitting companion, leaning forward indicates that he/she wants to talk. Leaning back, the partner signs that he/she wants to listen to his/her partner. Tilted chin indicates volitional pressure and desire to strictly monitor one’s interests. If the chin is elevated and one’s head is straight, the partner finds himself/herself in a position of strength. By managing one’s non-verbal language, people can create the desired image. Speaking to an audience as an expert, one should provoke the image of a competent, confident professional. Otherwise, no one will respect and believe the speaker’s ideas and will not take the speaker’s thoughts seriously. Moreover, the impression of the audience regarding the speaker is formed during the first few seconds of his/her performance.
If one goes to the podium with a hunched back, with the voice sounding sluggish, and the words crumpled up, he/she is unlikely to convince the audience to accept his/her proposals (learning objective no. 6), if only the audience considers the speaker a first-class specialist and unquestioned authority.
Non-verbal language helps people to have a better understanding and adequate view of the partner. For instance, when a person is tapping his/her fingers on the chair arm, it evidences about his/her nervous tension. The predominance of consonants in speech implies the predominance of the logic over the senses and makes the partner think of the interlocutor as more of "physicist" than "lyricist".
To conclude, having analyzed the main factors that influence the effective and productive interpersonal communication, it should be noted that in communication there are no minor and unimportant things. Everything used in the process of communication can either encourage the person to continue further communication and possible relationships or cease everything even not beginning it. Therefore, a person who knows the principles and means of effective communication can achieve unbelievable success in any sphere of life. After conducting the research, I have made the conclusion regarding the tips that will help me improve my interpersonal communication skills. First of all, it is important not only to listen but to hear what the partner says as if one starts communicating with another person, he/she should respect the time person spends trying to share his/her ideas. The best way to show gratitude and respect towards the companion is to listen and respond to his/her speech. Second, it is important to learn to formulate the ideas and thought cohesively, confidently, and clearly. No one is interested in listening to tons of useless and unnecessary information just because the speaker is not good enough at building his/her speech right. Finally, it is important to learn the non-verbal communication means as very often they can tell the companion more than words can do. Without any doubt, a person should take into account the environment, communicative situation, and the audience when applying all of the above-mentioned techniques. All in all, communication is life and it should never be neglected.