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Topic 1 _interpersonal Skills Literature Review

Sep 30, 2015





Historical perspective-interpersonal skills ANSHU ARORA What are Interpersonal Skills?Interpersonal skills can be defined broadly as those skills which one needs in order to communicate effectively with another person or a group of people Interpersonal skills include everything from communication and listening skills to attitude and deportment. Good interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization.Within an organization, employees with good interpersonal skills are likely be more productive than those with poor interpersonal skills, because of their propensity to project a positive attitude and look for solutions to problems.

Although there is some variation in the literature over the exact skills that qualify under this term but majority of them tend to agree on a number of core areas in which competency is essential for effective interpersonal interactions. These include :Self-awarenessEffective listeningQuestioningOral communicationReflectingAssertivenessMessages can be communicated through the following non-verbal channels:1. Facial expressions2. Gaze: 3. Gestures: 4. Posture: 5. Paralinguistic cuesThe effect of behavior on goal achievement According to Oshagbemi (1988) we consistently underestimate the amount of time we spend in face-to-face interaction. There are also indications that we under-estimate seriously the effect our behavior has on the way others behave, and therefore on the achievement of personal and organizational goals. Ex:

Mangham (1986) argues that a person's success as a manager depends upon the ability to conduct oneself in the complexity of the organization as a subtle, insightful, incisive performer. He goes on to suggest that successful managers appear to have a natural and/or highly developed ability to read the actual and potential behavior of others around them and to construct their own conduct in accordance with this reading. Interpersonal skills as goal-directed behaviors `Interpersonal skill' is one of a number of broadly similar terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. Other such terms include interactive skills, people skills, face-to-face skills, social skills and social competence. Argyle (1984) defines socially competent people as those who possess the skills necessary to produce desired effects on other people in social situations. These desired effects may include persuading somebody to work harder, make a purchase, make a concession in a negotiation, be impressed by one's expertise or support one in a crisis. Honey (1988) offers a similar definition. He refers to interactive skills as the skills people use in face-to-face encounters to arrange their behavior so that it is in step with their objectives. He emphasizes the point that interactive skills have very little to do with being nice or winning friends unless these sorts of outcomes are encapsulated in the individual's objectives. A common theme in these definitions is the ability to behave in ways that increase the probability of achieving desired outcomes. It therefore seems appropriate to define interpersonal skills as goal-directed behaviors used in face-to-face interactions in order to bring about a desired state of affairs.

Approaches to the study of interpersonal interaction Behavioral approaches Chapple 1940,believes that the most important characteristic of an individual's interaction may be measured along a dimension of actionsilence. Using a machine which he called an interaction chronograph, Chapple conducted many studies that were based largely on recordings of the frequency and duration of speeches and silences. Social scientists and trainers who have followed in Chapple's footsteps have concentrated on observing the pattern of interaction (for example, who communicates, how often, how long and with whom) without reference to verbal or emotional content. Others have adopted a similar approach but have also attended to the basic elements of verbal and/or non-verbal behavior. Duncan and Fiske (1977), focus their attention on specific, immediately observable behaviors, such as head nods and eyebrow flashes, of which the larger actions are composed. This contrasts with an alternative behavioral approach that pays attention to the intention that lies behind the behavior and therefore requires more interpretation on the part of the observer. Advocates of this approach include Deutsch (1949), Bales (1950), Honey (1988) and Belbin (1993).

Deutsch was one of the first to develop a system for categorizing role functions. He argued that members of an effective group must perform two kinds of function: one concerned with completing the task, and the other with strengthening and maintaining the group. Bales presents his approach to interaction process analysis as both a procedure for recording interaction and as a basis for assessing the characteristic ways in which different individuals participate in social interactions, for example, their approach to problem solving. Honey argues that since any aspect of overt behavior may be observed, it follows that all behavior can be categorized. He believes that while we can monitor all non-verbal behavior such as eyelid movements, eyebrow twitches and finger strumming, and all verbal behaviors including how frequently somebody says 'you know', swears and so on, this might be less useful than categorizing behavior at a higher level. One of the highest levels of categorization is style. A widely accepted definition of style is an accumulation of micro behaviors that add up to a macro judgment about a person's typical way of communicating.

Honey illustrates his approach to the study of interpersonal interaction with the analogy of a broken cup. If the cup were broken into only six pieces it would be relatively easy to synthesize from the pieces to the whole cup. If, however, the cup were pulverized into powder it would be difficult to conclude that it was ever a cup. His approach to behavior analysis is one which he believes facilitates both analysis and synthesis. It is based on a limited number (nine) of broad categories which may be used to monitor behavior and also to pro-vide a practical basis for planning how best to behave in the light of the situation and the actor's objectives. The nine categories are: seeking ideas, proposing, suggesting, building, disagreeing, supporting, difficulty stating, seeking clarification, and classifying/explaining/informing.

Cognitive approaches All of the approaches presented so far fail to pay attention to what is going on in the actors' heads, to what they are thinking. They restrict attention to what people do. An alternative approach is based on the assumption that if we are to better understand the conduct of people in organizations we need to address what they appear to think and feel about themselves and others. A transactional approach to social interaction Social interaction may be viewed as a transaction in which each interactor is seeking a satisfactory outcome. The performance appraisal interview offers an example of a complex but typical social encounter in which the behavior of each party is influenced by the other. The person being appraised is aware that his boss/appraiser is observing what he is saying and doing and that on the basis of these observations she (the appraiser) is making inferences about him. These inferences might affect the decisions she makes about the appraisee's pay, promotion and so on. Consequently the appraisee may not openly and honestly answer all the questions he is asked, and may attempt to manage the way he responds in order to maximize his personal benefit from the interaction rather than to help the appraiser achieve her objectives. This brief description not only draws attention to the interactive nature of social encounters but also to the possibility of conceptualizing any interpersonal interaction as a performance which is influenced by the actors' motives and goals.

Leary (1957) argues that people are motivated to behave towards others in ways that elicit from them desirable kinds of behavior that are complementary to their own. His model of interpersonal behavior suggests that interpersonal acts may be categorized according to eight broad varieties which are related to the two factors of dominance vs. submission and hate vs. love. While we might expect any individual to be capable of displaying behavior across all eight categories, Leary suggests that in practice most people favor some categories more than others (reflecting their personality). When others respond with the desired complementary behavior the interaction is perceived to be rewarding, whereas if they respond with non-complementary behavior it is experienced as unpleasant and costly. For example, those who favor managerial-autocratic behaviors interact with others in ways that invite them to be obedient and respectful. When others respond towards them in this way they experience the interaction as rewarding.

Thibaut and Kelley (1959) also advance the notion of reward and cost. They conceptualize interpersonal interaction as a process of social exchange, and their basic assumption is that people voluntarily enter and stay in a relationship only so long as it is adequately satisfactory in terms of reward and cost. They evaluate the outcome of a relationship by referring to two kinds of comparison level: CL and CL-alt. The first of these comparison levels (CL) is an average of the entire population of outcomes known to a person, including those they perceive as accruing to others as well as those they have personally experienced. This represents the neutral point on a scale of goodness vs. badness of outcome. If a relationship produces outcomes (rewards less costs) that are above this level, the relationship will be experienced as satisfactory. The second kind of comparison lev