The definition of interpersonal communication varies depending on who you ask (or who you cite). The challenge of communication begins with the fact that people have different ideas of what comprises the act of communicating. Most definitions involve the sending and receiving of messages to create mutual understanding. While this sounds easy, think about how often in a day you miscommunicate. Almost everything we do involves communication of some sort- whether it is interpersonal, organizational or from the mass media. We spend time improving our abilities in math, grammar, and science. Often times, improving how we communicate gets lost in the shuffle.
Imagine if it didn’t. For my leadership class this past semester, we had to create a communication goal and outline measureable objectives to determine if we had met those goals. My goal was to contribute my ideas. Twice a week, when I found myself in a situation where I refrained from speaking, I had to write down why I didn’t. Then I had to determine the impact it had on myself and the effectiveness of the group or organization. It was eye opening to how frequently I don’t speak up. This helped me to acknowledge my flaw and work to improve on it.
This is something that I wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t mandated. No one likes to think about their areas of weakness. But, that is the way to strengthen them. Another important teachable moment is that people can communicate better. We spend a lot of time learning algebraic expressions and the molecular breakdown of photosynthesis in our years. Now that many of us find ourselves in professions where that knowledge isn’t directly related to our jobs, it may be a good idea to focus on developing our “soft skills” that can help our careers and interpersonal relationships. Some ways to improve communication skills are:
1. Enroll in the MS in Communication and Leadership at Canisius (but really, you should).
2. Set your own communication goal for 30 days.
3.Take a look at these 50 communication blogs that cover the various aspects of communication. (41-45 deal with interpersonal communication)
What are your communication goals? I’d love to hear what works for you when trying to improve your communication skills.