Do you sometimes find it difficult to communicate in situations like work, social, or home life? If so, then thinking about interpersonal communication skills could start you on the journey to better ways of communicating.

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Practicing your interpersonal communication skillscould change how you communicate with others to help you build stronger relationships.

What is interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal communication describes how two or more people communicate with each other. This covers:

  • either face-to-face, over the phone, email, or social media interactions.

  • verbal (tone of voice) and non-verbal (body language and facial expressions) communication.

Improving how you communicateis the first step to building trust with friends, family, and coworkers.

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1. Active Listening

Flaticon Icon Active listening involves being fully present (e.g. putting down your cell phone, and focusing on the other person) so that you can listen and give your full attention to the person talking. Next time you're in a conversation, try:

  • facing the person and giving them eye contact.

  • not to interrupt and watch for non-verbal cues such as smiling.

  • staying focused on what they say in the moment.

Active listening can really help you to understand someone's point of view.

2. Nonverbal Cues

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Noticing nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language can tell you a lot about what a person is feeling. Paying attention to these cues can help you connect to others because they'll give you a better sense of how they're feeling in the moment.

Some body language can reflect negative responses:

  • frowning or turning their head away with arms up may show unhappiness or disagreement.

  • crossed arms might demonstrate that a person feels defensive.

Other nonverbal cues reflect positive responses:

  • smiling when listening to show happiness or agreement.

  • nodding their head when they agree on a point to show their support.

Paying attention to your own body language is important as well. Standing with your arms to the side will signal that you're open to what the other person has to say.

3. Empathy

Flaticon Icon Feeling empathyfor the other person means understanding and relating to someone else's feelings, which may help you choose the right words to say. Having empathy means:

  • giving up on any negative ideas that you have about others.

  • understanding other people's needs and goals.

Showing empathy can help you to connect with those around you because you'll be better able to understand their point of view.

4. Teamwork

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Teamwork means working towards a shared goal to produce something. Building relations within a team involves:

  • listening and allowing others to talk.

  • noticing if others aren't talking or looking uncomfortable and offering your support.

  • showing your understanding of others' strengths and weaknesses.

Working in a team can make you feel like part of a group while also sharing lots of different ideas, skills, and expertise.  

Quiz: Charlotte and Noah's Presentation

Noah and Charlotte need to put together a presentation for a group project in class, They have to do some research, create slides, and talk about them.

Noah and Charlotte are sitting together discussing their presentation. Charlotte is talking very fast but Noah is ignoring Charlotte, messaging someone about a shift for his part-time job.

In the meantime, Charlotte is starting to get annoyed. What could Charlotte do to make things better?

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  • Say to Noah that he sounds really busy but ask if he could give her his full attention after sending the message

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  • Talk more slowly to try and calm her nerves, which might help Noah give her his full attention

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  • Say that working together as a team will help them produce some ideas for the task and help them get the work completed faster

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  • Ignore Noah and start writing the presentation herself


Which options can Charlotte choose to help bring Noah into the conversation?

Take Action

A woman in a yoga pose says,

Interpersonal communication skills need constant practice and maintenance to make you an effective communicator.

Understanding others, and being better understood yourself, can create stronger and more meaningful relationships with others.

Trying out new ways to communicate with someone can be hard but it gives you the chance to improve your interpersonal communication.

Try out these activities today:


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