The Importance of Interpersonal Communication
Most of us spend thirty percent of our lives in close proximity to other human beings at work, so it is important that we attempt to keep not just our professional skills sharp, but also the skill of communication. To be able to clearly and holistically articulate what we mean is a cornerstone of good teamwork. Without good communication no team can succeed.
When speaking with fellow team members, many factors come into play. One is that the speaking side’s word choice, tone, body language, and even facial expression can influence the receiver’s perception of what is being stated. Let’s take the phrase, “I’m doing great today” as an example. Without context, the phrase is simply a statement. Say it with a frown, and it becomes a sarcastic statement. Say it with a slow, tired voice, and it could easily be considered irony. While these two examples are extremes, they help to prove the point that it is not always what is being stated, but how it is being stated.
Expounding on how a given statement is positioned, let us imagine that every day you arrive at our place of employment, every day you ask the same peer, “How’s your day going?” and every day that peer answers with, “As good as it can.” While the statement itself is not very clear, the tone of voice, the energy used to state the phrase, and the body language of the peer are all context clues as to the true meaning of the phrase.
As we get familiar with our peers, we can gain insight into their personalities, mannerisms, typical behaviors, and average attitudes. Thus, when communicating with our peers, we gain insight into the meaning behind the phrase. However, this path of contextual knowledge and interpretation can take a large amount of both time and effort.
In my opinion, needing to gain intimate knowledge of an individual’s particulars is, in general, a waste of effort. I am not saying that you should not get to know your peers. I think you should. But when it comes to explaining abstract ideas, concepts outside of areas of expertise, or even humor, being precise and clear about the stated subject matter eliminates misunderstandings. I am not the only one who has made a statement only to be misinterpreted, and it causing issues down the road. Being clear prevents repeated effort and the need to start over on whatever the given subject or discussion is.
In the end it is important to remember that when we communicate with the people we spend upwards of one-third of our daily lives with, we need to try our best to be clear, precise, and as well-mannered as possible.