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Good communication skills are critical for the development and sustenance of healthy interpersonal relations (Anonymous, para6). Consequently, it is vital that all parties in the relationship hones up their communication skills which includes expressiveness in use of the communication dialect/ language, listening skills, responding to critics (as the latter are inherent and cannot be avoided) as well as skills in facilitating mutual sharing all of which must be practically present for a healthy interpersonal relationship to subsist. According to Anonymous (Para 8), good communication skills can either build or break interpersonal skills depending on the mode and the role that it is intended to play. Furthermore, conflicts are part and parcel of interpersonal relationships and ideal communication skills, particularly the responder’s skills in responding to day to day criticism from the other party in the relationship poses as the most ideal tool for effective conflict resolution (Curran, 336). This paper therefore explores using examples the significance of effective skills in response to criticism play in the effective sustenance of healthy interpersonal relationship as part of effectiveness in interpersonal communication while pinpointing my personal experiences in handling criticism that I am often faced with in day to day interpersonal relations.
Non offensive response to criticism (personal experiences)
In day to day interactions in relationships, an individual, including myself often encounters criticisms from different parties that I interact with. Personally, I have often been faced with such criticism from the varying sources presented by categories of people that I interact with in my day to day life. It is important to note that if not well handled or responded to, criticisms are more likely to culminate into conflicts and which could spoil the good interpersonal relations that existed among the parties prior to the critic’s claims. Examples of sources of criticism that I have personally been faced with includes, criticism from customers, criticism from my wife and from general friends. In order to effectively respond to the critics, I always assume that the complainant is right and thus seeks to find the extent of the critic’s truth to defend himself/ herself and avoid hurting the relationship between them.
Criticism from my clients
As a business person, me and the customers enjoy a critical form of interpersonal relations that are significant to both parties but more so to the business since the customer always has alternatives and high bargaining power, particularly if the business is not a monopoly. The relationship is therefore the source of my livelihood. Basically, in the day to day business, the business person, his services or products can often be criticized by a customer, if the latter is in one way or another dissatisfied by one aspect or another about the business. Consequently, I have often been faced with criticism from them both genuine and otherwise. However, I have often handled the critics successfully using non-offensive responses. For instance, in the example presented in the dialogue between the managers and the client (Curran, 337), the client complained to the management for being ignored by the shop attendants and the managers response maintains the good relations between the customer and management. In responding, the manager seeks to understand the sources of customer’s dissatisfaction, offers an apology and gives assurance for corrective action which is a non offensive response to criticism vital for maintenance of interpersonal relations in which he excels. The illustration is a depiction of skills that I have often applied non-offensively in responding to customers criticisms.
My wife as an often a source of criticisms.
Similarly, criticisms from a marriage partner can only be non-offensively responded to via seeking to understand the causes of dissatisfaction and such understanding as the basis of communication to resolve the conflict/ responding effectively to avoid hurting the relationship. Often my wife has criticized me but success in handling the criticism has often been made efficient by non-offensive response.
Wife: (raged) Am living this house and never to return (leaves the room and bangs the door behind her).
Me: (following her to the sitting room) cool down my dear and let’s talk. Is anything the matter?
Me: (Holding her Shoulder) Please my love just tell me what the problem is.
Wife: Am leaving this house for you and your mistress. I cannot stand it any longer. Not with our house help of all people
Me: (composing myself) sweethearts are you insinuating that I have cheated on you with Jeanie. I understand you are jealousy but you are mistaken my dear. I thought we love and trust each other very much.
Wife: (softening) I did not mean I don’t trust you. But it is your closeness of late that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I am a woman and a jealous woman you know?
Me: (embracing each other) sweetheart you know I would never cheat on you not with any one because I love you very much. Mhhh! Perhaps we are giving her so much responsibilities (joking) even making dinner for your husband (both smiles). By the way dinner is ready and on the table, I prepared it myself
Wife: (hugging) you are such a pet (more embraces). I am sorry and love you very much. (Happily) Hurry up! Let’s now go and have our dinner lest it becomes cold (we leave for the dining table happily)
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From the experience, my skills in non offensive response to the partners’ criticisms makes me excel in getting a solution to a conflict that had threatened to hurt our marriage relationship with my loving wife. Although I personally knew that I was not guilty of my wife’s accusation, I didn’t protest but sought to understand the root cause of her accusation and responded on the understanding of the wife’s concern about my close relationship with the house help, perhaps which led her to thinking that I was cheating on her with Jeanie.
Good Communication skills for interpersonal relations building in whatever context is fundamental for the existence of healthy such relations (Anonymous, Para 5). More so such skills particularly in regard to responding to criticisms for conflict resolution are vital in interpersonal relations building and management (Cushman & Cahn, 51). Ideally, effective response to criticism for effective communication for conflict resolution in whatever form must be preceded by seeking more information, asking specific questions, at time speculating about the other party’s specific question or causes of dissatisfaction, accepting critic’s points, interpret the critic’s ideas, inquire into the critic’s needs and to a greater extent agree with the critics if need be; all of which are communications skills that I have personally used in responding to real life criticisms and which seemed to work. Then the responder should proceed to either offer an explanation, apologize at the earliest opportunity as situations may necessitate, or present facts to make and politely invalidate the critics claim (Curran, 336, 7, 8, and 9). The tone of response in this case must aim at rebuilding interpersonal relations rather that worsening the situation at hand (Cushman & Cahn, 51). The scenario provided by my wife and I has the implication that no offensive response to criticisms is an ideal tool for conflict resolution, whatever form the latter may take.
Anonymous. “Work with People: Interpersonal Relationships, Conflict Resolution”. About.com. 2008. Web.
Curran, Victoria, dimensions of interpersonal communication: Fall 2009, pg 336-340.
Cushman Donald & Cahn, Dudley “Communication in interpersonal relationships” 1985, State university of New York, Albany, pg 49-56.