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Week 1: Introduction

Introduction

Experts suggest that more than 70% of our working time is spent in some kind of communication. We’re reading and writing letters or memos, listening to our colleagues, or having conversations with our managers.

Communication involves at least two people: the sender and the receiver. In this course, we’ll look at some of the skills that might use by the senders and receivers: listening, writing, speaking, and management.

Each one is important to your success in the workplace. For example, a poorly written cover letter can prevent you from being hired for a job. On the other hand, the ability to write effectively and make clear presentations can make the difference between your being promoted or being left behind.

The ability to effectively communicate with other people is an important skill. Through communication, people reach some understanding of each other, learn to like each other, influence one another, build trust, and learn more about themselves and how people perceive them. People who communicate effectively know how to interact with others flexibly, skillfully, and responsibly, but without sacrificing their own needs and integrity. In today’s team-oriented workplace, the development of good interpersonal communication skills is an important key to success.

What are Interpersonal Skills?

“Interpersonal skills” refers to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interactions in order to reach certain effects or results. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability to operate within business organizations through social communication and interactions.

Interpersonal skills include the ability to read and manage the emotions, motivations, and behaviors of oneself and others during social interactions or in a social-interactive context. The teamwork necessitated by the complexity of today's workplace has placed increased importance on a worker's interpersonal skills. Such teaming often brings together individuals from diverse groups who may not share common norms, values, or vocabularies but who do offer unique expertise, insights, and perspectives.

Interpersonal skills in this digital age are somewhat more complex than they have been in the past. e-mail, voice mail, audio conferencing and video conferencing, and the myriad of other technologies that enable individuals to communicate with each other not only increase the ways in which individuals can interact but also require a increased sensitivity to the nuances of interpersonal interactions. This idea is particularly true in the worlds of virtual learning and virtual communication, where one cannot yet use hand gestures, facial expressions, or body language to fully express ideas. The challenge to students is to perfect interpersonal skills not only in face-to-face interactions but in virtual interactions as well.

We sometimes do not understand how important interpersonal skills really are. It is easy to laugh and make jokes about people who obviously lack interpersonal skills, but sometimes we need to examine our own impressions on others to better prepare for success in life as well as for a productive career.

The development of interpersonal skills begins early in life and is influenced by family, friends, and our observations of the world around us. Television and movies also influence this area, but our parents or guardians pass along most of these characteristics to us. Some aspects of interpersonal skills are even inherited. Our genes largely influence appearance and some personality traits.

For us to improve our interpersonal skills, we should first be aware of what we are like from the perspective of other people who interact with us. Habits we are unaware of, actions we think go unnoticed, and other things about us that might affect other people are impossible for us to change if we...
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