Interpersonal communication means communication between people. In Latin, ‘inter’ means between. So, this word means ‘between persons’.
Interpersonal communication happens whenever there are several people communicating with each other. That could mean two friends having a quiet chat or it could mean a group of coworkers meeting up to decide on how to use their budget for the year ahead.
There are various types of interpersonal communication in existence, and this article explains some of the main types.
Types of Interpersonal communication
1. Verbal communication.
Speaking – and listening to our interlocutor – is a vital form of interpersonal communication. Verbal communication is made up not only of the words we speak and their meaning, but also our tone of voice (calm, gentle, excited, etc.). We can communicate verbally in various contexts; two examples are face to face and on the phone.
2. Written communication.
We can communicate with our friends and colleagues – either formally or informally – in writing. We can interact with others using text messages in a spontaneous and informal context, or we can sit down and write a long and much-edited letter to them. Whatever suits the context!
3. Communicating with gestures.
Our gestures and our body language can enable us to communicate with others (whether we want to or not) without us having to say or to write a single word.
4. Lip reading.
If you can read people’s lips, you will be able to interact with them without sound. You will even be able to decipher what they are saying during a noisy party when the hubbub makes it difficult for other people to communicate verbally.
Whether you are dancing for fun with friends or whether you are professional dancer who interprets complex emotions through bodily movements, there is no denying that dancing is a positive, physical way to interact with others.
6. Giving gifts.
Giving someone a gift is a superb way of showing that you care about them, and communicating in a way that can often be more powerful than words. If you give a gift of flowers, moreover, you can use the so called ‘language of flowers’ (the idea that each flower has a specific meaning) to communicate to friends and loved ones. A thoughtful gift is a brilliant, wordless, way to communicate so many different positive emotions.
7. Subtle signs.
Sometimes all that is needed is a slightly raised eyebrow or a pursed mouth and we can communicate volumes. Facial expressions, slight gestures and other very subtle signs are all ways of communicating with others that humans use very often. These subtle signs are often used alongside other forms of communication, such as speech, dance or gift giving.
Communication is something that we all do every day. And, if done right, it can really bring us closer to our fellow humans and help us to forge both friendships and working relationships that can last for a life time. How many of the types of interpersonal communication described above were you already aware of? Are there any other forms of communication that you can think of?