Interpersonal Interaction: Skills & Definition

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  • 0:00 What Are Interpersonal…
  • 0:39 Verbal Interactions
  • 1:27 Verbal Skills
  • 4:44 Non-Verbal Interactions
  • 5:19 Non-Verbal Skills
  • 9:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica McCallister
Everything you do with and around others is considered interpersonal interaction. This lesson discusses situations of interpersonal interactions and the skills involved during those interactions.

What Are Interpersonal Interactions?

When you are around other people, you are interacting. Imagine that anything you do with others is interacting. Regardless of whether you are talking to them, working together on a project, sitting in a meeting room, or having a conversation, you are practicing interpersonal interactions. Interpersonal interactions also include things like relating to one another and exchanging feelings, and they can be both verbal and nonverbal. So, let's break down the concept better by looking at both verbal and nonverbal interpersonal interactions and the skills involved in those interactions.

Verbal Interactions

When you speak to someone else, you are expressing verbal interpersonal interactions. You can speak in soft tones, loud tones, and tones that include emotion such as anger or excitement. Therefore, verbal interpersonal interactions involve tone and volume.

Also involved in verbal interpersonal interactions is word choice. When you speak to someone like a doctor, for example, you will explain things that involve words such as why you are feeling ill and how long the symptoms have been occurring, and you will most likely ask questions related to your illness. If you were feeling sick and feverish, you might explain that you have been tired and achy and ask questions about how you can feel better. Your word choice includes the words that you choose to express yourself.

There are skills that are involved in verbally interacting with others. Why? Verbally interacting with others doesn't just mean talking. It means that you are carefully choosing your words, your tone, and your volume. It takes practice to interact with others, and sometimes there are conflicts that can arise out of verbal interpersonal interactions. Let's take a look at some situations that involve verbal interactions and the skills that are involved in each of those situations.

Verbal Skills

Response to conflict: When you are experiencing a conflict, the resolution to the conflict will be heavily dependent on what you say to the other person. For example, maybe you and your spouse do not agree on what to eat for dinner. You might become angry and start yelling, explaining that you are tired of eating the same thing over and over while your spouse wants the same dinner as last night. What you say in terms of word choice, volume, and tone will affect the outcome of the conflict.

The verbal interpersonal skills that you might use when experiencing a conflict could include letting each other explain your points of view, reducing the volume and removing the emotional words such as 'I'm so frustrated when...' or 'You get your way all the time!' and replacing them with words such as 'Let's see what we can come up with to make our dinners more balanced' or 'I think we should both be able to choose a few dinners a week.' Using positive words and phrases through verbal communication can change the overall outcome of the situation.

Arguing a position: Often you will need to argue a position in order to get a point across. Maybe you have just gotten a notice in the mail explaining that you did not pay your power bill last month when in fact, you did. Now, you have to find the check stub that you received when you made the payment, take it into the local office, and explain that you should not be charged a late fee on your next bill. Again, what you say in terms of word choice, volume, and tone will affect the outcome of the argument.

Often in situations where you have to explain or argue a position, you have to be very careful to not become angry or irrational. The words you choose, the speed of your phrasing, and the volume you use will all contribute to the outcome. Therefore, it is best to stay calm, take deep breaths, choose words and phrasing that are short and concise, and be open to having to explain the situation a few times. Using these skills will enable a speedier outcome when arguing a position.

Giving directions or training others: Have you ever been asked to give directions or train others, such as a new employee? Perhaps you have been asked to give directions to a new co-worker on how to get around the city. Or, maybe you have been asked to give a work presentation or training for your colleagues. Either way, you will use verbal interpersonal skills to assist in those conversations.

Both of these situations, giving directions and training others, are dependent on your verbal interpersonal interactions. You have to speak in an organized fashion, be descriptive in your word choice, and practice patience if you have to repeat yourself. Using these skills will demonstrate your ability to effectively assist others.

Non-Verbal Interactions

You can also interact with others without speaking or using words. These types of interactions are called non-verbal interpersonal interactions. Think of a time when you sat in a group of people and watched everyone's interactions. Some may have been smiling and nodding, while others may have had their arms crossed with a stern look on their faces. Non-verbal interpersonal interactions don't necessarily involve words and speaking as the primary mode of communication; rather, they involve gestures, body language, exchanging feelings, or listening as the method of interaction.

Non-Verbal Skills

As we have discussed, non-verbal interactions are those actions that don't necessarily use words to convey messages. Rather, they are actions and behaviors that result in interactions. The following provides some examples of situations where non-verbal interactions can exist and the skills associated with those interactions.

Comfort level around new people: We have all been there. When we are around people whom we have never met before, it's easy to become shy and reserved, at first. However, we need to practice being inviting, relaxed, comfortable, and open-minded. For example, anytime you are a new employee, there are always a few days of discomfort associated with interacting with your new, fellow co-workers. In order to effectively interact with people you are not familiar with, the following skills may be helpful.

Anytime you are in a new situation, surrounded by people you don't know, it always feels like everyone's eyes are on you. Your body language, movements, and facial expressions are all taken into consideration as part of your interpersonal interactions. Smiling, nodding, and walking up to someone to shake his/her hand are all skills associated with non-verbal interpersonal interactions that are most often used when meeting people for the first time. Using these skills will affect your comfort level around new people.

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