Communication Skills vs. Interpersonal Skills

group of people negotiate at the desk

Previously, we have discussed the various skills important to effective management.

Each is important as you work on your personal management skills and leadership development.

Today we’ll take a brief look at the differences between communication and interpersonal skills.

At first glance, one might think these two skills mean the same thing, but in reality there are important differences.

I do not, however, believe that an individual can use one correctly without having developed the other. The differences between communication and interpersonal skills can be summed up as follows.

Interpersonal skills refer to the ability of a manager to communicate with and understand his team.

Included with this are the abilities to get along with others on a personal level, to maintain a professional level of empathy towards the situations your team members may be experiencing, and to simply get along with people on a personal level.

Everyone you work with is a person with individual feelings and needs. That’s the interpersonal skills, so let’s see the difference between interpersonal and communication skills.

Communication skills, on the other hand, involve your ability to take an idea or set of instructions and convey them to your audience in a manner that is comprehensible.

These skills will enable you to give clear instructions, communicate ideas to your team, and keep upper management informed of the status of your current projects.

Both communication and interpersonal skills are important, but each is more effective with the other than alone.

It doesn’t matter how nice you are (interpersonal) if the instructions you give cause confusion.

On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how clear your instructions are (communication) if your team members think you are rude, cold, and cruel.

Take a look at your own management process and style in an effort to determine whether or not you need to strengthen either of these areas.

You might find that you, or other members of your team, may benefit from incorporating some communication exercises into your next management training session.

One thing you may consider is coaching your team to become more adept at interpersonal skills. They may be a nice person, but the real test is when they face a situation where these skills are needed during complaint-handling or conflict management.

By communicating effectively with your team members, you help them understand how their interpersonal skills can be developed with others.

So, the main difference between interpersonal skills and communication skills is the way they are perceived by the receiver.

You can find out more by attending one of our communication courses:

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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