Interpersonal communication plays a key role in building successful relationships at work. To be considered a valuable team player, it’s very important to master this essential concept. Verbal and nonverbal communication, listening, negotiating, problem-solving, decision-making and assertiveness are all skills that a person should hone to successfully interact in the workplace. Thus, coursework in communication is especially applicable post-graduation.
Interpersonal communication is “the sending and receiving of information between two or more people. Interpersonal communication in the workplace also involves this interaction in varying relational situations, such as between co-workers and between superior and subordinates,” according to Study.com.
The desired end result in all communication is the successful exchange of information. The four components of the interpersonal communication process are sender, message, channel and receiver.
- Sender: Someone has a message to relay. Senders form the message in their brain and think about the desired outcome. Is the message meant to inform? To persuade? To lay groundwork for future messages? Senders must consider the intent when crafting the words that form a message.
- Message: Information senders wish to convey.
- Channel: Once the message is formulated into words, senders must choose a channel. The channel is simply the means senders wish to use to relay the message (email, phone call, conversation, text, letter, etc.). They may also choose to convey the message nonverbally through body language or hand signals.
- Receiver: The person to whom the information is sent. The receiver processes or “decodes” the message. This may include asking questions for clarification.
Roadblocks to Interpersonal Communication (Noise)
Just like other types of interaction, there are roadblocks to interpersonal communication; these are called “noise.” Noise interrupts the sending and interpretation of a sender’s message. There can be physical noise, such as bells ringing, fire alarms, loud trucks or airplanes outside, etc.
There’s also semantic and physiological noise. Semantic noise happens when the sender splits words or is ambiguous in meaning. Physiological noise is perhaps the most detrimental roadblock to message receipt; this occurs when receivers are distracted by their body’s reaction to the message such as blurry vision due to tears, a headache, emotional stress, etc.
There are several theories about interpersonal communication. Three of the most commonly studied are:
- Social Penetration: This is the study of how people get “close” as interactions and exchanges go from superficial to more meaningful. Closeness is achieved when both the sender and the receiver self-disclose on broad and deep levels.
- Expectancy Violations: This is the study of personal boundaries, both physical and emotional. It considers our expectations about how other people either respect or infringe on our personal space.
- Uncertainty Reduction: This posits that new relationships bring a certain level of uncertainty, and uncertainty can be reduced via communication.
Interpersonal Communication and Relationship Building
Employees of any organization must possess solid interpersonal skills to contribute to the efficiency of business operations. Interpersonal communication affects many facets of an organization. Management, sales and training are certainly three important areas affected by how well employees interact with one another.
Conflict management within the workplace relies heavily on effective interpersonal communication. All organizations experience internal conflict sporadically, and employees must use the interpersonal communication skills necessary for resolution. Solid interpersonal skills come in handy when the need to diffuse a stressful or hostile situation arises, so strong communicators who put in the necessary work to become effective at interpersonal communication reap benefits in the workplace. If you’re interested in a communications career, learn more about CTX’s online BA in Communication today.