Chapter 14:Constructive relationships
Interpersonal skills are skills used in interactions and relationships between two
or more people.Interpersonal skills include:
(i) Building rapport or a sense of ‘being in tune with’ another person, which draws
them into a relationship.
(ii) Building trust and respect, so that the relationship is maintained and co-
(iii) Managing conflict in such a way that the relationship is preserved.
(iv) Persuading or influencing another person to do what you want them to do or
to share your beliefs.
(v) Negotiating or bargaining in order to reach mutually acceptable or
compromise solutions to problems.
(vi) Communicating assertively, so that you uphold your rights and get your needs
met – without violating the rights or ignoring the needs of others.
(vii) Communicating informatively, so that you give (and receive) relevant and
(viii) Communicating supportively, so that you encourage the other person and
gain their commitment.
Communication is the transmission and exchange of information.Effective
communication is a two way process.
Signals or messages are sent by the communicator and received by the other
party who sends back some form of confirmation that the message has been
received and understood.
Encoding and decoding are important elements within the communication
process/cycle; words are merely the symbols or ‘stand-ins’ for your ideas and
intentions in communicating. In other situations, a gesture, pictures,symbols or
numbers will be the most appropriate to use. Whatever codes are used, it is
important that they are understood by both parties.
Feedback is another important element in the communications cycle. It is the
reaction of the receiver that indicates to the sender that the message has (or has
not) been received and enables him or her to assess whether the message has
been understood and correctly interpreted. The communications process/cycle is
often represented diagrammatically as follows: The choice of an appropriate media/medium for communication depends on a
number of factors such as speed,complexity,need for a written record,need for
interaction,confidentiality and cost.
There are three main directions of communication flows in an organisation.
(i)Downward communication is very common,and takes the form of
instructions,briefings,rules and policies and the announcement of plans,from
superior to subordinate.
(ii)Upward communication is rarer but very important for the organisation.It
takes the form of reporting back,feedback and suggestions.Managers need to
encourage upward communication to take advantage of employees’ experience
and know-how,and to be able to understand their problems and needs in order to
-Horizontal:between people of the same rank(peer groups/colleagues,in the
same section or department,or in different sections or departments.
(i)Formally:to coordinate the work of several people,and perhaps
departments,who have to cooperate to carry out a certain operation.
(ii)Informally:to furnish emotional and social support to an individual.
-Diagonal.This is interdepartmental communication by people of different
ranks.Diagonal communication aids coordination,and also innovation and
problem-solving,since it puts together ideas and information of people in
different functions and levels.This also supports matrix structure.
There can be many barriers to effective communication including the following:
(i) Distortion – this is the term used for a process through which the meaning of a
message is lost in the coding or decoding stages. (ii) Noise – this refers to general interference in the environment of
communication which prevents the message getting through clearly.
(iii) Misunderstandings, due to lack of clarity or poor explanation.
(iv) Non-verbal signs e.g. gestures or facial expressions which contradict the
(v) Failure to give feedback.
(vi) Overload – a person being given too much information to digest in the time
(vii) People only hearing what they want to hear
(viii) Differences in social, cultural or educational background.
(ix) Poor communication skills on the part of either the sender or the recipient or
There are many ways in which the communication system in an organsation
could be impr