Unlocking Your Communication Potential: A Guide to Improving Interpersonal Skills

Ioana Andrei
By Ioana Andrei, Updated on May 21, 2024, 9 min read

Excellent communicators make you think, feel, and act. They’re essential in organizations—they stimulate collaboration and relationships. Without effective communication, you risk creating silos and conflicts, lowering productivity.


Interpersonal abilities are key. But apart from verbal and nonverbal communication, what skills should your employees practice? Also, which strategies accelerate learning?


This article breaks down 8 interpersonal communication skills in the workplace, what they achieve, and how to nurture them using strategies and collaboration platforms. Let’s begin.



What Are Interpersonal Communication Skills?

Interpersonal communication skills are abilities and behaviors that help you relate to others effectively, appropriately, and productively. They strengthen workplace relationships and enhance collaboration and retention.


A mix of verbal and nonverbal interpersonal skills—such as oral speech and eye contact—equips employees for scenarios ranging from high-stakes presentations to everyday socialization.



Why Do Interpersonal Communication Skills Matter in the Workplace?

Here’s how interpersonal communication abilities help your business thrive.



Team collaboration and productivity

Over 70% of employers believe that effective communication boosts productivity. This is because exchanging information clearly and promptly helps hit targets. Conversely, poor interpersonal skills produce patchy instructions, unclear aims and deadlines, and misunderstandings, making one in two workers less productive.



Career development and advancement

Interpersonal skills benefit workers’ progression. For instance, great oral, written, and public speaking skills impress clients and senior execs, attracting new opportunities. Listening and emotional intelligence enable managers to spearhead their teams, achieve top-rate results, and get quicker promotions.



Healthy company culture

Regular feedback and updates across business units, alongside friendly rapport, create a culture of trust and collaboration. And when workers feel safe expressing ideas, they’re more engaged and loyal. Three-quarters of employees who are satisfied with their company culture plan to stay on.



The Pitfalls of Weak Interpersonal Communication

Putting communication skills on the back burner could cost you. Here are the risks.



Inefficient communication silos

Employees with limited interpersonal skills may, unintentionally, create communication silos that prevent cross-team knowledge, resource, and feedback sharing. In turn, this endangers productivity and innovation. Siloed communication includes:


  • Departments don’t share client updates, causing project delays.


  • Misunderstandings between individuals prevent constructive feedback.


  • Requests lacking clarity and emotional intelligence discourage two-way conversations, reducing task quality.



Conflict and isolation

Miscommunication provokes fight (conflict) or flight (isolation) dynamics, which can spiral into a toxic environment and high turnover. For instance:


  • Workers feel intimidated by the use of unprofessional words and gestures.


  • Colleagues get defensive from heavily negative, unconstructive feedback.


  • Teams shift blame due to unclear tasks and deadline communication.



Slower career growth

Employees underperforming in client presentations, project collaboration, and other communication scenarios may get fewer promotions. This hinders internal progression planning and inflates recruitment costs. Plus, a third of employees start job-hunting due to lack of advancement—so you risk turnover, too.




8 Key Interpersonal Skill Areas

Here are 8 essential interpersonal communication skills to nurture in your team.


  1. Verbal communication

    Successful verbal communication doesn’t require a huge vocabulary. Rather, it emphasizes clarity, concision, purpose, and professionalism. Skilled verbal communicators also use creative phrases like metaphors, work-appropriate humor, and a storytelling structure, while personalizing their tone to their audience.


    Verbal communication is either:


    • Oral: Speaking in-person, on audio, or video, and using appropriate speed, pausing, and vocal variety while adapting to listeners’ reactions.


    • Written: Jotting persuasive information with suitable reader-specific detail levels.


  2. Nonverbal communication

    Nonverbal signals offer vital context, such as how communicators feel and whether a message is inspiring or sarcastic. Practice:


    • Body language: Adopt a straight back, relaxed shoulders, natural hand gestures, and a hip-width leg stance. Avoid fidgeting and crossing your arms.


    • Facial expressions: Relax your jaw and forehead, and smile and nod to show support.


    • Eye contact: Maintain eye contact on important statements or questions. Occasionally, look away to avoid hyper-intensity.


    • Appearance: Show professionalism with the appropriate dress code, personal hygiene, and general tidiness.


    Others’ nonverbal cues—like a yawn or a stretch during a face-to-face presentation—might prompt you to change your content or speed. That said, consider listeners’ circumstances. For instance, neurodivergence might make eye contact difficult or excessive, while personal issues could cause tiredness.


  3. Emotional intelligence

    High emotional intelligence requires identifying and processing emotions, and then taking logical action. For instance, use self-awareness to identify frustration and impatience, and self-regulate by taking a walk or journaling. Also, notice others’ feelings and needs. You might assume that a coworker is stressed based on their body language, and offer to listen over a coffee break.


  4. Public speaking

    Public speaking skills help you effectively present goals and results, pitch ideas, and celebrate other coworkers. Use pro techniques such as:


    • Practice your speech and time-keeping.


    • Tailor your content and tone to audiences such as senior management and clients.


    • Speak slowly but naturally, with clear diction and strategic pauses.


    • Avoid filler words like “um” and “yeah, so”.


    • Move to emphasize key points, but avoid gesturing excessively.


    • Steady pre-speech nerves with breathing and vocal exercises.


  5. Giving and receiving feedback

    Thoughtful and specific feedback improves both work quality and 1-to-1 relationships. Suggest action-based behavior changes like “next time, focus on the top three points,” rather than past-focused judgments like “you were distracted in your update yesterday.”


    Gracefully accepting feedback also matters. Listen without getting defensive and evaluate others’ recommendations logically.


  6. Rapport building

    Building rapport deepens relationships through shared interests and experiences. For instance, you might exchange travel plans with a colleague or compare sports preferences while chatting with clients.


    Stretch your informal communication muscles by:


    • Kickstarting conversations with a personal anecdote.


    • Showing curiosity by asking questions.


    • Staying mindful of sensitive topics like romantic relationships and health problems.


  7. Conflict resolution

    Here’s how to prevent conflict using effective communication.


    • Clarify individual goals, expectations, and responsibilities within teams.


    • Regularly check in with coworkers to remove obstacles.


    • Encourage open feedback between team members, and facilitate support from neutral figures (such as HR).



    If conflicts arise:


    • Communicate the steps and aims of the resolution process.


    • Listen to opposing views respectfully.


    • Seek emotional balance in meetings.


    • Determine the conflict’s root cause and desired outcomes.


    • Follow up with updates, timelines, and outcomes.


  8. Collaborative teamwork

    Teamwork-centered communication helps you hit targets, launch new ideas, and create an engaging work environment. Best practices include:


    • Having regular, focused check-ins like daily stand-ups and yearly strategy reviews.


    • Detailing who does what, when, and how in team workflows.


    • Keeping an open-door policy to learn from team questions and feedback.


    With 8 in 10 Americans working in hybrid or remote settings, your team also needs virtual collaboration skills including:


    • Contextualizing written comms with voice notes, face-to-face calls, files, or links.


    • Following conference call etiquette, like raising virtual hands, welcoming guests, and navigating glitches like freezing videos.




How to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills



Sharpen your interpersonal toolbox with these 3 practical strategies.


1. Observe role models


Pinpoint some top-notch communicators, like an executive at your firm or an online TED Talk speaker. Watch, listen, and identify the:


  • Skills they excel at, like body language, speech structure, or choosing engaging topics.


  • Techniques they use, such as short sentences, an assertive tone, empathetic words, or deliberate hand gestures


  • Effects their behaviors have on listeners, like de-escalating a conflict, or feeling appreciated and motivated.



2. Prioritize 2-3 skills at a time


Trying to improve all your communication sub-skills simultaneously can be overwhelming and reduce overall progress. Instead, pick and practice 2-to 3 skills at a time. For instance, pick one you struggle with and another that’s comfortable. That way, you stay focused and monitor your progress up close without distraction.


3. Practice with a trusted advisor


Practice makes better (because perfect doesn’t exist.)


And practicing with a trusted advisor—like your manager or a friend—gets you valuable feedback and support. Try to: 


  • Alter a speech using different ideas, speeds, and gestures to engage your advisor.


  • Role-play a conflict scenario with your partner. Construct arguments, listen, and respond strategically.


  • Identify nonverbal cues when your collaborator is speaking or listening.


You can practice alone, too. For instance, record yourself giving a speech, play it back, and list improvement points.

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How to Support Employees’ Interpersonal Skills: A Guide for HR & Management

Here are 3 ideas to support employees’ interpersonal communication skills in the workplace.


1. Define the skills gap


Let employees self-evaluate in a communication skills survey, or ask managers to score their teams’ abilities. Then, rank your workforce’s written, oral, nonverbal, and other communication skills—for instance, on a scale of 1-5. 


Look for patterns in the data. For example, certain departments might fare better at written communication than at public speaking. Pinpointing skill gaps for different employee sub-groups enables you to personalize your support plans.



2. Set up development strategies


Next, outline your strategies to fill the communication skill gaps for different groups—such as senior management and specific job types.


Development strategies include:


  • Mentorship: Pair mentees with experienced communication mentors, and encourage goal planning and regular mentoring sessions. 


  • Skills exchanges: Enable reciprocal coaching interactions between colleagues with complementary skills (for instance, “trading” rapport building for conflict resolution tips).


  • Group and 1-on-1 coaching: Combine tailored face-to-face training with after-class exercises on specific skills, like public speaking


  • Online training: Browse online course providers for ready-made communication skills training to offer across your organization.


3. Create a communication-rich culture


Alongside targeted development, integrate communication into your day-to-day company culture. Regular reminders and a supportive community are crucial to forming new habits—including interpersonal skills.


To bolster this culture:


  • Ensure your leaders practice excellent communication hygiene, including openness to feedback and conflict prevention.


  • Bake rapport building into meetings—for instance, during the first 5 minutes.


  • Schedule regular in-person or video meetings so team members practice listening and nonverbal communication. 


  • Provide flexible tech platforms that enable your staff to practice multiple interpersonal skills.



Leveraging Spike Teamspace for Improved Communication Skills

Spike is an internal communication app that helps teams manage chats, emails, meetings, and more in a productivity-centered digital hub.


Here’s how it supports your workforce’s interpersonal skills.


Leveraging Spike Teamspace for Improved Communication Skills

Spike’s conversational inbox sorts emails by contacts rather than threads, so you focus on topics and rapport building, not formal letter writing. Plus, having emails, chats, and files under each conversation provides enough context for clear, productive collaboration.

For an extra skill boost, use Spike’s Magic AI to generate tone-nailing messages and get text improvements.



Team groups: Focus your communications

Spike’s public channels and private groups enable topic-focused interactions. Team members practice detailed, concise communication using media like text, voice notes, reactions, and file previews. Also, individuals are a direct message (DM) away from 1-on-1 feedback and mentoring. 

One-click video meetings further facilitate rapport building, nonverbal communication, and conflict resolution in a private, secure environment.



Collaborative documents: Exchange ideas and feedback

Your team can collaborate on documents in real time, exchanging ideas without miscommunication or delay. Using comments and notes, coworkers also practice offering specific and respectful feedback. 


Plus, Spike lets you collectively track and organize tasks, set reminders, plan workflows, and more, helping you hit deadlines and celebrate achievements as a team.



Wrapping Up on Interpersonal Communication Skills

Interpersonal skills—such as public speaking, giving feedback, and nonverbal communication—help improve productivity while preventing conflict and sluggish career advancement. You can develop your staff’s communication abilities by identifying skill gaps, tailoring mentoring and coaching to individuals, and creating an open culture.


Additionally, the right communication app can accelerate your team’s interpersonal skill growth. Spike brings chat, email, and video meetings under one platform, with additional tools for AI generation and document editing that streamline collaboration. 

Learn more—try Spike for free today.

Ioana Andrei
Ioana Andrei Ioana has worked for 4+ years as a management consultant in the tech and telecom industries. With a wealth of enterprise and start-up client experience, Ioana is also an accomplished SaaS and B2B tech writer.

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