Boosting Your Interpersonal Skills as You Age

interpersonal skillsBoosting Your Interpersonal Skills as You Age

Having solid interpersonal skills is vital throughout life, even as you age. As we grow older we are faced with an increasing number of obstacles that hinder effective communication. Communication disorders can affect people of all ages but are, sadly, more prevalent among seniors and may be categorized by a stable, recovering or degenerative course. Communication changes are frequently reported by older people. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports on a survey of 12,000 participants over the age of 65, where more than 42% reported hearing problems, 26% experienced difficulty writing and 7% struggled to use a phone.

Well-developed interpersonal communication skills can counter communication disorders significantly, highlighting the importance of acquiring and maintaining such skills throughout one’s life. Apart from focusing on strengthening interpersonal skills for the benefit of others it is imperative to also make the effort to invest in your own personal well-being. Finding a balance between the two will provide you with all the skills required to effectively communicate well into your golden years.

Improving non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication, such as facial expression, use of touch and the itch and tone of your voice are just as important as the actual words you speak.  With these visual cues people are more likely to interpret the context of what is being said than if there were no visual cues present at all. A good example of this is to simply smile when you are talking about something that makes you happy.

Non-verbal communication accounts for up to 60% of meaning in terms of interpersonal communication. To be successful at communicating non-verbally you have to express your emotions in a way that is received and properly understood by others. Non-verbal cues becoming increasingly important as we age due to how our voices may not project in the same manner as they did when we were younger.

Regulate your emotional cues

This is a very important aspect of successful interpersonal communication among seniors as they often tend to feel overwhelmed by a myriad of emotions. When this does happen, take a deep breath and wait for a feeling of calm to envelope you. Be aware of any negative signals you might be exuding and try and relax them. Unclench your fists, don’t grit your teeth and relax any other tensing muscles as well.

When developing your interpersonal communication skills it is important to remember that everyone is different. Not everyone is great at communicating with others and it is important to adapt your own communication methods to make others feel at ease. It is, however, never too late to improve your interpersonal skills and ensure countless stimulating conversations with friends and loved ones.

(This blog was contributed by Jess Walter, Freelance Writer)