Interpersonal communication definition/role/characteristics/styles at work

Interpersonal communication is the ability to receive, interpret and transmit information using writing, speech or body language. It involves reciprocity, reactions and responses between people. Interpersonal communication definition

Communication allows us to live in society and form harmonious groups that contribute to our personal growth. In the business world it is no different. Interpersonal communication is one of the main factors for professional success.

Regardless of the position the professional occupies, efficient communication makes relationships more fluid and assertive. 

The ability to communicate is born with each person. Some have it easier, others less, but the use of language is inherent to the human being.

But, faced with a multitude of different personalities and characteristics, how can a company facilitate interpersonal communication?

Thinking about answering this question, we separate this complete article, for you to discover what interpersonal communication is, its importance and also how to facilitate its development in your company. Interpersonal communication definition

What is interpersonal communication?

A simple definition for interpersonal communication is the exchange of information between two or more people , through verbal or non-verbal signals. 

In practice, it is the ability to receive, interpret and transmit information using writing, speech or body language . 

Interpersonal communication involves reciprocity, reactions and responses. The main elements of interpersonal communication are:

  • sender — the source of transmission;
  • message — the content to be transmitted;
  • channel — the medium used to convey the desired message;
  • code — language;
  • receiver — who receives the message;
  • feedback — the response that allows you to verify that the message sent was understood.

In addition, there are some types of interpersonal communication that are differentiated by the way the communication is done.

  • Verbal communication — uses written and spoken language;
  • Non-verbal communication — uses features such as looks, gestures, posture and even facial mimicry to communicate;
  • Para verbal communication — concerns the tone of voice, volume and rhythm employed, as well as pauses and sound expressions. Interpersonal communication definition

What is the role of communication?

Communication has several functions in society. In the book Organizational Behavior, by the specialist in this subject, Stephen P. Robbins, 4 main functions are listed, all equally important, none overlapping the others.


Communication is often used to gain control over a certain group , especially in companies with a more authoritarian profile , which have very strict rules.

This type of communication can be indirect, as when a manager praises an employee’s productivity , but does so with the intention of controlling their behavior and that of other employees, making them appear less competent. 


Another important function of communication is to use it to genuinely motivate others by clarifying what needs to be done, the desired level of quality, and what can be done to continually improve. 

This type of communication is achieved through the definition of specific goals, the exchange of feedback and also the constant reinforcement of the expected behaviors of employees . 

emotional expression

Communication is the way people express their feelings , whether in personal or professional life, both of satisfaction and frustration. Interpersonal communication definition

Often work groups are the main source of a person’s social interaction and this type of communication ends up being generated, exposing their emotions. 


The final function of communication is to inform and provide a basis for effective decision-making . It is through the information obtained that people can analyze possibilities and decide on important topics for themselves and for the company. 

What are the characteristics of a person with good interpersonal communication?

Active listening is the main characteristic of a person with good interpersonal communication . 

This means that she can interpret more than just the words spoken by the interlocutor . In addition to semantics, tone of voice, speech speed and even body language are also interpreted. 

Another outstanding characteristic of people with good interpersonal communication is sensitivity , since it is necessary to have this ability to connect with other people, promoting identification, trust and empathy. 

What is good communication?

Before we continue, we need to go back to basics and also understand what it is to have good communication. 

There is no one – way communication . To communicate is to understand and make oneself understood. It is correctly interpreting what the other person says and understanding its meaning. Interpersonal communication definition

It is to transmit necessary information so that the other also understands what is intended. When communication achieves these goals, with minimal noise , it can be said to be good. 

Communication competence is essential for people to establish effective dialogues.

Interpersonal communication styles at work

Bestselling author and CEO of research firm Leaderships IQ, Mark Murphy, has discovered in his research that there are 4 styles of communicators . 

The types differ with each person’s preferences when it comes to expressing themselves and determine the level of understanding of a message. 

This understanding is important to be able to make adjustments in communication to improve the efficiency of understanding the transmitted message . See what the 4 styles are. 


It is the profile of people who value emotional language, always seeking to understand how others feel about certain subjects and not just how they think. 


Profile related to people who like to deal with data and numbers. They have an aversion to ambiguity and do not identify with emotional words. Interpersonal communication definition


People with an intuitive profile value the wide view of situations and don’t get too attached to the details. They prefer to get straight to the point, preferring quick and direct communication. 


They are people more easily with processes, details, schedules and planning. They have a lot of attention to detail. 

What can I do to improve interpersonal communication?

If communication is not good, believe me: it can improve . That’s why we’ve separated some tips. 

Realize your own communication problems

We all have something we need to improve in our communication and it’s important to realize that. 

Pay attention to people who you think speak well or who have difficulty and identify what exactly makes you have this perception.

You can do this on your desktop , at a lecture or even watching a video on YouTube. 

Compare how you communicate and see what can be improved. Also take the opportunity to identify your communication style . Interpersonal communication definition

Modulate the message to be transmitted according to the style of the other

The next step is always to identify the communication type of the people you need to communicate with.

Whenever you need to make yourself understood, try to adapt your message to the person’s type of communication , to facilitate their understanding. 

It’s not for you to change your style, but to make small changes that help the other person understand. 

Remember that there is no right or wrong and that the goal of effective communication is to make yourself understood . 

Always pay attention to the interlocutor

To have effective communication it is essential to be open and pay attention to the other. It could be making eye contact , truly listening, asking questions that help clarify, or even having positive body language. 

These attitudes also favor building a more meaningful relationship  with the other person. 

Understand non-verbal language

Often what the person says, with words, is not the most important thing in communication. 

The tone of voice , facial expressions and body language are great complements of communication, often demonstrating the opposite of what was said. 

So pay attention to posture, hand movements, and what the person’s face says. 

Limit the misunderstanding

Misunderstandings can always happen, and often this is only understood too late. Interpersonal communication definition

To avoid this, always make a summary of what was agreed, leaving space for the interlocutor to also make considerations. 

What is the difference between interpersonal communication and interpersonal relationships?

Interpersonal communication and interpersonal relationships are different concepts .

While communication basically involves transmitting and receiving messages and information efficiently , relationships also involve other forms of interaction with people, such as friends, family, co-workers and romantic partners. 

However, communication complements the relationship, making them stronger and truer. 

What is interpersonal communication in companies?

Interpersonal communication in companies is the way people communicate with each other in organizations. 

In a company, all people are important and teamwork is paramount to achieve success and desired results. 

However, professional relationships are often the most complicated, as we are not the ones who choose our co-workers, our bosses or even our customers. Often, generational and cultural diversities can generate conflicts. 

The lack of professional connection can cause serious damage to the organizational climate , employee motivation and even harm the business result. 

Therefore, it is essential that professionals develop efficient communication skills, always looking for ways to improve the understanding of their transmitted messages . 

How to encourage interpersonal communication among employees?

Interpersonal communication can always be improved , but it is essential that those involved commit themselves and practice the lessons learned daily. Interpersonal communication definition

Some practices can be developed by the company to favor the development of this skill. Check out some examples.

Promote interaction between employees

Each person has a different personality and this is perfectly normal in a company , but this cannot be a problem for communication. 

The company can promote actions that increase the interaction between people and help them to get to know each other better . 

Creating a proper space for interaction, such as a game room or break room, helps this socialization. In addition, having a horizontal relationship policy contributes to socialization. 

Organize team training to improve interpersonal communication

In addition to training employees, practical activities often also increase integration between people . 

A good idea is to offer courses specifically focused on the development of interpersonal communication. 

Invest in gamification

The game format, most of the time, favors understanding and allows several people to carry out the same task, or mission. Interpersonal communication definition

The gamification also helps in the integration of people involved, since all depend on each other to complete the activities. 

Hold frequent meetings

Meetings are great times for people to share their ideas , give feedback and share their thoughts, but for that they need to feel comfortable. 

Encourage knowledge exchange

The exchange of knowledge is essential for effective interpersonal communication. The company must demonstrate the importance of this by encouraging the sharing of ideas.

A solution to this could be to promote specific days when a topic should be addressed in meetings, when everyone can apply to express what they think about it openly and without judgment. 

Promote internal events and improve interpersonal communication

The internal events are very important for the engagement and involvement of teams, favoring interpersonal communication. They can be happy hours , birthday parties of the month, lectures, team dynamics, themed parties, etc. 

Impact of interpersonal communication within companies

Interpersonal communication does not only generate impacts on people, but on the company as a whole. See how it can affect certain areas.

executive management 

The managers should possess the interpersonal communication skill very well developed , since its function is to deal with people and lead teams. Interpersonal communication definition

This competence also favors the establishment of trust and cooperation between people. 


The interpersonal communication is even more important in industry sales , after all they are professionals who deal directly with customers. 

When the salesperson cannot communicate effectively, the sales process tends to be unproductive.


Marketing plays a strategic role in acquiring new customers and needs to perform efficient interpersonal communication to convey what you want and obtain the expected results. 


It is the customers’ gateway to a company, the link between the company and them. Interpersonal communication in this sector is essential to ensure that the customer will feel important and well attended.

Human Resources

Interpersonal communication is essential to reduce internal conflicts and favor the construction of an organizational climate of harmony. 

When professionals are able to express themselves clearly and understand what the other is saying, friction, rework and many other problems can be avoided . Interpersonal communication definition

It is the function of professionals in this sector to develop efficient interpersonal communication in all company employees, promoting positive internal relationships.  

Interpersonal communication exercises

Each person must seek the development of efficient interpersonal communication, however, the company must encourage this and strengthen this initiative with internal communication policies . 

Here’s how to do it in some examples:


Empathy can be stimulated so that behavioral differences are no longer a point of friction between people, favoring the adaptation and understanding of all involved. 


Honesty is the basis of healthy relationships, and it is from this that respect , security and trust between the parties are developed. The more honest the employees, the better the communication and the results obtained.


It is essential to encourage people to develop communication skills and other competence gaps that may exist. 

Encourage these people to participate more in meetings and planning . 

How does interpersonal communication favor the organizational climate?

Efficient communication is essential for the organizational climate of companies. In the case of leaders and managers, this skill is even more important, as they inspire and motivate employees. Interpersonal communication definition

In addition, part of them is the guidance on the responsibilities of each one.

Efficient interpersonal communication avoids conflicts generated by the misinterpretation of what was said, which can generate integration and results problems. 

How to maintain interpersonal communication in the home office?

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed work relationships and the home office has become a reality in many companies, even in those that were not prepared for it. 

In this context, interpersonal relationships were shaken, as daily living was lost in many cases. 

But, after months in this reality, it is necessary to deal with the situation and find new ways to improve communication, even being physically far away. And there are some tips for that:

  • the company must value clear and noiseless communication with all employees, which can be done using tools determined by HR;
  • communication between teams should be encouraged;
  • feedbacks should be more frequent;
  • Online events can be promoted, such as chat circles, happy hours and even games to favor team integration, etc.

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