In Business: The importance of Interpersonal communication in Small Business

written by Sarah Colgate

Business Tips for 2024 | Helpful tips for tourism operators

May 10, 2023

Communication channels and the way we use them has changed so much over the last 15 years. Many of the channels we grew up with no longer exist or have been moved onto a digital platform. Because of those changes a lot of context is lost, feelings are lost and the ability to really get to know someone has been lost. This then results in a lack of trust, isolation and impacts us personally and professionally. 

I feel our interpersonal communication skills have declined over this time and resulted in a more surface level understanding as opposed to a depth of understanding that creates empathy. Today we have hundreds and thousands of relationships whereas 15 years ago we may have had up to 100. Therefore keeping up with and managing those relationships takes more time and more effort and a whole lot more typing and texting! 

Often in our rush of life we skip over the conversation that creates trust and deeper relationships. We skip right to business or the message to get it done. We don’t often take time to speak with people, ask questions or have open discussions. Fostering a deeper relationship allows for  bumps in the road, a difference of opinion and even a falling out as the trust that exists brings us back together. When we have only surface level relationships with people there is no deep understanding or trust so we are more often hurt, misunderstood and impacted when communication fails. 

Therefore we need to take the time to review interpersonal communication, the elements it encompasses and also how it can impact our lives at work and at home. 

So what is interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal communication is how we exchange information, ideas and feelings with others. It’s both verbal and nonverbal communication delivered in face-to-face conversations, by phone calls, text messages, emails and online chats.

As I mentioned above, interpersonal communication allows us to form and maintain relationships with other people. And if we do it effectively we can express ourselves, understand others’ perspectives, build trust and empathy and resolve conflicts. Good communication skills can help us form positive relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and our partners. Communication is the most essential part of our interaction with others; in business communication will determine success and failure, securing a business deal or not and retaining staff or losing them. 

Good communication helps employees to work together more efficiently, to collaborate, to understand instructions, and to solve problems. Employers often seek employees with strong communication skills because they are seen as essential for building productive and happy teams.

Interpersonal communication can impact our emotional and mental well-being. When we communicate well we can express our emotions, alleviate stress and build self-confidence. When we don’t communicate well it can lead to misunderstandings, people taking offense and often isolation impacts our wellbeing and mental health negatively. 

Interpersonal communication is essential for building good relationships, succeeding in the workplace and maintaining our emotional and mental well-being.

How does interpersonal communication work?

There are a number of key elements to interpersonal communication that make it work effectively. 

These include:

  1. Sender and receiver: Communication involves a sender who initiates the message and a receiver who receives and interprets it.
  2. Message: The message is the information, idea, or feeling that the sender wants to convey to the receiver. It can be verbal or nonverbal, and can be conveyed through various channels, such as speech, writing, gestures, or facial expressions.
  3. Feedback: Feedback is the response from the receiver to the sender’s message. It can be verbal or nonverbal, and helps the sender know whether the message was received and understood as intended.
  4. Context: The context of the communication includes the physical setting, social norms, cultural background, and relationship between the sender and receiver. These factors can affect how the message is interpreted and received.
  5. Noise: Noise refers to any interference or distraction that can affect the communication process. It can be external, such as loud music or a poor connection, or internal, such as a wandering mind or emotional stress.

Essentially to have effective interpersonal communication we need clear and concise messages, active listening, and appropriate feedback. We also need to be aware of and adapt to the communication style, cultural background and emotional state of the person you are communicating with. When these elements are understood and addressed then individuals can communicate more effectively with others in their personal and professional lives.

Factors that impact or destroy interpersonal communication.

Interpersonal communication can be destroyed by various factors, including:

1. Lack of trust: Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and without it, communication can break down. If one or both parties feel mistrusted or betrayed, it can be difficult to communicate honestly and openly.

2. Misunderstandings: Misunderstandings can arise when people have different expectations, beliefs, or cultural backgrounds. If these differences are not addressed, they can lead to miscommunication, hurt feelings, and conflict.

3. Poor listening skills: Effective communication requires not only speaking but also listening actively. If one or both parties are not listening attentively, important information may be missed or misunderstood.

4. Use of offensive language: The use of offensive language or insensitive comments can damage interpersonal communication by causing hurt feelings, anger, or resentment.

5. Technology: Although technology has made communication more accessible, it can also harm interpersonal communication. Over-reliance on technology can lead to impersonal communication, misinterpretation of tone or intent, and distractions that prevent individuals from being fully present in a conversation.

6. Power dynamics: Power dynamics can be present in any relationship, whether it be in the workplace or personal relationships. If one person has more power than the other, it can be difficult to communicate honestly and openly without fear of consequences.

I feel there are so many more factors that can impact interpersonal communication, however we get the idea of how destructive the smallest things can be. By addressing these factors and practicing effective communication can help individuals build stronger, healthier relationships that can withstand more bumps in the road.  

Spend some time each day reviewing how you are communicating not only with your nearest and dearest but also with your team at work. If you see there are issues, address them. If you have staff or team members that are having issues communicating, sit down with them and go through the above information so they know what good communication looks like and more importantly the benefits of good communication. 

If you need help with establishing good communication within your business, get in touch today. 

You May Also Like…

What do I want to do?

What do I want to do?

Everything changes, we change, business changes, our customers change and so does everything else on the planet....