What is the Meaning of Interpersonal Communication?
Interpersonal communication is communication between several people. Inter- is a Latin prefix that means ‘between’, whilst personal means pertaining to people. Communication comes from the Latin verb communicare, which means to share.
So, putting all of these etymological connections together we can say that interpersonal communication means several people sharing something. What is shared during interpersonal communication can be many things, including words, thoughts, information and feelings.
Interpersonal communication can take many forms. For example, it can be:
- Verbal: words spoken face to face or on the phone.
- Written: emails, letters, text messages and quick scribbled notes are all examples of written communication between people.
- Gestural: our body language can often say a lot about us.
- Based on silence and listening: sometimes, silence speaks volumes, and much more that words do.
- Facial: facial expressions are another, very subtle, form of interpersonal communication.
In addition, we can divide up the category of interpersonal communication into formal and informal communication. Here, the context in which the communication takes place is important. The workplace is usually the place for formal interpersonal communication, whilst parties and other social gatherings are usually places where informal interpersonal communication is more appropriate.
Interpersonal communication is so important in very many aspects of our lives. Below, you will find 7 key reasons why this is. As you will see from the below, interpersonal communication has many uses in society. These range from the legal to the social, and from the romantic to the information. How many of these uses of interpersonal communication will you have guessed already, one might wonder?
Importance of Interpersonal Communication.
1. Promulgating laws.
The laws of the society will have no effect unless citizens are able to read, learn about and understand them. This is one example of how interpersonal communication is important for maintaining the fabric of society. Almost all societies have some form of written law that – if everything is to be done fairly – ought to be accessible to all citizens so that they are fully aware of what the laws of the land are.
2. Calling for help
It is said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Sometimes, the mere act of sharing a problem can help that problem to decrease or even to go away entirely. Calling a helpline or the doctor, or simply pouring our heart out to our friends, are all examples of the ways in which interpersonal communication can help to lighten the load on our minds. In addition, if we want, we can receive advice in return. Once we have told another person what is wrong, anything is possible: a solution will be in reach!
3. Disseminating the news.
Media outlets use various kinds of interpersonal communication – including printed pages and social media outlets – to let everybody know what the news is. Then, it is common for people to discuss the news via various types of interpersonal communication, giving their opinions about it and hearing the opinions of others.
4. Making friends.
Sharing stories and experiences, and comparing our opinions on different topics, is a very common way of making friends. Friendships are founded on communication, and are friends are very often the people that we talk to first about new developments in our lives. Friendships may be said to be not only founded but sustained by keeping the channels of communication open.
5. In marriages and romantic relationships.
Good interpersonal communication skills are absolutely essential to maintaining healthy relationships. That way, the couple can resolve any disagreements right away. If this does not happen, arguments can just grow and grow until they are extremely difficult to solve. It is also important for a couple to be open about their thoughts and feelings: that is the best way for them to be able to support each other. After all, how can someone celebrate their spouse’s achievements if they do not know what those achievements are? And how can they support them throughout their troubles if they do not know what those troubles are?
6. Getting jobs done at work.
Employees will only work in an efficient and effective way if they know exactly what it is they are supposed to be working on. That is why clear and concise communication is crucial in the workplace. Managers need to be able to state what tasks they want their teams to perform, when the deadlines are and so on. In addition, employees will need to feed back on how their work is going, and bosses and CEOS need to be able to listen fairly to their employee’s queries and complaints and to give advice and constructive criticism whenever it is needed. From work emails to chats in the communal coffee area, and from presentations given at training events to official directives from the very top of the chain, interpersonal communication is happening all the time at work.
7. Helping others out.
We can use our interpersonal communication skills to help other people out in numerous other ways. For example, if a stranger stops us in the street to ask us for directions, we can communicate with them in order to help them to find the right way to their destination. Or, if someone tells us their problems, we can listen carefully and sympathetically to show our support – after all, interpersonal communication is as much about active listening as it is about talking. If we have good interpersonal communication skills, we can be ready to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it.
Interpersonal communication is both a useful tool and a joy in itself. Communication with another person and sharing thoughts and feelings with them can give us plenty of positive feelings and can also help to relieve our troubles and worries. In addition, interpersonal communication is also very useful for holding society together – for example, by disseminating news items that are of interest to citizens or by ensuring that everyone in a society knows what the law is. Are there any ways in which you might be able to improve your interpersonal communication skills? You never know when you might need them in order to help out one of your fellow human beings.
Also read: Types of Interpersonal Communication.