Life Coaching Skills – The Vital Importance of Interpersonal Communication [Review]

“A socially skilled individual will possess an ability to behave in an appropriate manner in many given situations” (Pope in Nyatanga, 1989:57). Communication, whether verbal or non-verbal, is a vital part of any society and is the key underlying component of establishing all the various forms of interdependent relationships, especially as a life coach. Effective communication is a skill that is learnt over time, and practised, in order to become proficient with its principles and best-practises. Many ignorant people tend to be rather blasé about its important and feel that just because they can speak, suddenly means that they can communicate effectively. They fail to understand the many dynamics that are involved in communication. Unfortunately, one of the most common problems people face in personal and professional relationships are misunderstandings, that often lead to complete breakdowns in communication.  Therefore, it is essential, in my opinion as someone who is familiar with the protocols of counselling, that people understand how communication profoundly impacts and fundamentally defines relationships. With this understanding they can take the time to learn the art of effective communication, and then to practise the techniques until it becomes a “natural” skill. Furthermore, if I could influence public policy, I would recommend that communication skills become a required part of the educational curriculum.

In order to understand interpersonal communication, we must understand the components that make it up. For a successful communicative interaction to take place, it must include two more people that move through transactional, circular process, where each person’s message serves as a stimulus for the other person’s response message (DeVito, 2019). In addition to this,  DeVito (2019) explains that communication is divided into stimuli and responses sequences that cannot be exactly repeated; are irreversible; and for the most part tend to follow a principle of inevitability, where the participating parties may not even realise that communication is taking place. This interaction also exists on a continuum that can range from something impersonal, like the interaction between a shop attendant and a customer, to a highly personal interaction between intimate partners. The parties taking part in these interactions are commonly referred to as the “source and receiver” (DeVito, 2019).

Both parties must establish a sense of interpersonal competence so that the interaction can flow smoothly, as each person is influenced by the other. Cohn (2007), suggests one should suspend judgement during a conversation to actively listen in and encourage the speaker to fully express themselves. While interactions can be symmetrical in the way each individual mirrors the other, others can take a different approach where one person may “posture” against the other to compete for dominance, and are seen as more complimentary by nature (DeVito, 2019).

My proficiency, as a Life Coach on interpersonal communication skills will continue to improve going forward. I am in an extremely fortunate position as I currently work with clients who are seeking therapy, so I am applying the methods and techniques on a daily basis. Going forward into the future I will be able to approach clients in my sessions with a complete understanding of how diverse and unique each individual is, and more so, how each individual should be treated as such.

Thanks for reading

Donovan – Life Coach

References:

Cohn, K.H. (2007). Developing effective communication skills. Journal of oncology practise, 3(6), 314-317.

DeVito, J.A. (2019). Foundations of interpersonal communication. The interpersonal communication book. (15th ed., pp. 15-42). Pearson education.

Gmeiner, A.C., & van Wyk, S. (2000). Interpersonal skills as reflective self-learning. Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, pp. 39-46.

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