Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace: How to Foster Better Relationships and Improve Productivity
By nature, humans are social beings. Fostering long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with one another is at the very core of our existence.
In a time when social distancing has become the new way of life, people have strived to find new ways to stay connected. Coming up with many creative tools and apps – from social media like TikTok, to more standardized programs like video calling apps.
If you think about it, this has only further emphasized the importance of interpersonal communication.
There are a number of reasons why constructive interpersonal relationships in the workplace are crucial to creating a positive company culture.
It not only helps employees on a personal level, enabling them to improve their skills but also benefits the organization as a whole through increased productivity.
Let’s break it down, and analyze the importance of fostering efficient, interpersonal communication in the workplace in a bit more detail.
1. What is interpersonal communication?
Interpersonal communication is the act of exchanging information, including thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Which can be expressed both verbally and nonverbally through gestures, body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
Developing strong interpersonal skills, often called “soft skills, “people skills,” or “social skills” can set you apart as a true professional. You are likely to find that this professional evolution also enriches your personal life.
In the workplace, interpersonal communication occurs in a variety of formats. Team meetings, client calls, performance reviews, or regular lunches together – are all examples of situations where you’d be exercising your interpersonal communication.
So, whether you’re working remotely and using a bunch of communication features to stay connected with your coworkers to keep information flowing, or you’re right next to them in the office, interpersonal communication at work is inevitable.
This is exactly why it should be nurtured to grow strong and mutually beneficial relationships.
2. Advantages of developing interpersonal communication skills in the workplace
There are, of course, positions in the workplace that require a more pressing need for finely tuned interpersonal skills – like the PR or sales departments. However, regardless of the field you work in, developing good interpersonal skills is essential for your success.
More and more organizations have realized that technical skills are easier to learn and that employees with a great capacity for soft skills are harder to find. Therefore developing a hiring strategy focused on values and people skills has proven to be a successful game plan.
Let me ask – have you noticed how important it is for organizations today to have flexible employees and how being a team player is essential when making employment decisions? From practical experience, I can tell you – interpersonal relationship skills are vital.
So, now that we’ve established why people should nurture their interpersonal and communication skills, it’s time to look at this from an organization’s perspective. Why is interpersonal communication important for a company?
Interpersonal communication in the workplace helps to manage conflicts more efficiently and solve problems faster
We need to begin with an invaluable skill: empathy, which enables us to holistically understand other people’s emotions, needs, and ideas from their perspective.
Actively listening to feedback regarding a change, or hearing out opposing opinions on certain topics is perfectly normal in a dynamic environment like the workplace. This should be welcomed as this discourse can help a company to improve.
However, taking things too personally and not understanding other people’s points of view can create some serious waves of unrest.
Having employees with crucial interpersonal skills like empathy will enable issues and disagreements to be resolved more easily. Therefore creating a more prosperous working environment for everyone.
Flexibility is a paramount interpersonal skill and is highly sought after by companies and HR departments when hunting for new talent. Flexibility improves co-worker collaboration which also allows for faster problem-solving. A flexible team tends to innovate better and more creative solutions when discussing problems and obstacles.
And guess what – this is a major source of profitability for companies, in terms of saving time and precious energy.
This is exactly why interpersonal connections are pivotal in the workplace. After all, optimization is key and team players play an integral role in achieving optimal results.
3. How to improve interpersonal communication skills?
Some people are born with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and for them forging deeper bonds with their peers comes as naturally as breathing.
However, this doesn’t mean that only naturally gifted communicators could reap the rewards of refining their interpersonal communication in the world at large and particularly in the workplace.
Like any other set of skills, interpersonal skills can be developed and improved through group activities or self-teaching techniques.
Every person responds differently to various stimuli. We know that what works for one person, is not necessarily going to bring success for someone else. So, here is a range of techniques to get you on the path to achieving wellness and personal development.
Take classes and attend personal development webinars
The internet is a vast oasis of knowledge, classes about self-development are only a few clicks away. You can find them at a level and price point that suits you, from any part of the world.
We’ve all heard the saying “you’re never too old to learn something new”.
So, suppose you want to improve your soft skills. In that case, you could take a more in-depth, personal approach towards analyzing your own behavior and exploring how to improve the ways you communicate.
Perhaps taking some psychology classes to understand human behavioral patterns and how to better respond to them would benefit you.
Learn to control your emotions
Did you know that happiness and anger are some of the most powerful emotions?
Expressing positive emotions is usually advantageous, transmitting to those around you some of your good vibes. Negative emotions, however, are often harder to keep in check and are more frequently the catalyst for action.
In general negative emotions can be tricky to conceal. According to this analysis of 70 million tweets, anger appears as the internet’s dominant emotion.
In order to improve personal and professional relationships, people should first process their emotions instead of reacting immediately. Stressful and annoying situations are (unfortunately) a part of life, we can’t change this, but we can change how we react.
For the sake of better communication and fostering stronger relationships, everyone should take some time to cool off before launching into a conversation.
Choose role models
Do you remember the innate communicators we mentioned previously? You may have some of these magical creatures in your everyday life already. If you do, you could consider taking some guidance from them.
You can start by paying close attention to how adept communicators react in different social scenarios. Then you can ask for advice from people you respect about how to respond more effectively, or how to open certain discussions, especially regarding more delicate matters.
Although not as formal as taking a course on interpersonal communication, if you remain curious, the results could be just as helpful.
Practicing your interpersonal skills on someone who is able to give you honest feedback to improve communication is always a good idea, remember that!
4. How can organizations encourage interpersonal communication in the workplace?
To help employees develop interpersonal relationship skills companies could organize activities for self-improvement, like training sessions.
Whether about public speaking, emotion management, or how being a team player leads to more trustworthy partnerships. For employees to improve their interpersonal communication skills in the workplace, the company itself has to not only encourage it but invest in it. Training opportunities and team-building events are a way of weaving this into the company culture.
Putting people who work together in a relaxed environment and getting acquainted through team building is an excellent way of improving workplace interpersonal skills.
When individuals have the chance to talk about things closer to their hearts – like their passions, people more willingly open up. Getting to know the people behind a job has proven to increase productivity at work in the long term.
5. How to foster strong interpersonal relationships while working remotely?
Our new social context has brought many challenges in terms of interpersonal communication. However, thanks to a strong desire for connectivity and a sense of belonging, people have found creative ways to keep in touch, even within the circumstances of social distancing.
With modern employee communication apps which companies implemented during the pandemic, like Slack or Teams, there has been a noticeable increase in productivity within remote working.
While interpersonal relationships at work are harder to foster with a work-from-home policy, it is not impossible to still create quality interpersonal connections with co-workers. The key is finding the right tools and features to ensure top-notch collaboration.
Choosing a real-time communication tool, like Brosix’s Video Chat Feature, for example, is an excellent option for client meetings. Better partnerships and work relationships are formed when people can see each other. That’s because non-verbal communication is very important in situations like these.
Your clients have invested their budgets into the services your company offers. Naturally, they will be looking for reassurance that their budgets are safe in your hands. Nonverbal communication during client meetings is a great indicator of how well you are handling (or not handling) your tasks. Ultimately having a huge influence on your future business relationships.
As for internal communication processes between your employees, occasional face-to-face, informal meetings, like short remote versions of classic team-building events, are also a great way to foster interpersonal communication in the workplace.
However, not all employees are comfortable being in front of a camera. Sometimes, for internal communication purposes, a feature like Brosix’s voice chat messaging may be more to their liking.
It’s an easy and time-efficient way to exchange information whilst getting updates about a co-worker’s wellbeing. Without the worry of if your morning face looks fresh enough to be on camera.
6. Improve interpersonal communication in the workplace with Brosix
Now that we’ve established the importance of interpersonal communication, it’s time to offer an effective solution to companies with a desire to develop and strengthen interpersonal relationships among their employees.
Communication departments, responsible for the overall external communication plan, must not neglect internal communication processes.
Any organization’s internal communication strategy should be based on new trends and their employees’ preferences.
Employees need to stay informed and connected in order to continue to be motivated and productive.
Here is where employee engagement and internal communication tools come in handy.
Brosix, for example, offers the chance for your employees to connect and collaborate through multiple features and a user-friendly interface.