Interaction Management

The term interaction management has been used in a variety of studies on interpersonal communication and refers to the techniques and strategies by which you regulate and carry on interpersonal interactions. It is certainly one of the essential interpersonal skills. Effective interaction management results in an interaction that’s satisfying to both parties. Neither person feels ignored or that he or she must carry on the entire conversation; each contributes to, benefits from, and enjoys the interpersonal exchange.

Of course, all interpersonal communication theory, research, and skills are devoted to the effective management of interpersonal interactions. Here, however, are three specific suggestions:

<  Maintain your role as speaker or listener and pass the opportunity to speak back and forth—through appropriate eye movements, vocal expressions, and body and facial gestures. This will show that you’re in control of and comfortable in the interaction.

<  Keep the conversation fluent, avoiding long and awkward pauses. Powerful people always have something to say. For example, it’s been found that patients are less satisfied with their interaction with their doctor when the silences between their comments and the doctor’s responses are overly long.

<  Communicate with verbal and nonverbal messages that are consistent and reinforce each other. Avoid sending mixed messages or contradictory signals—for example, a nonverbal message that contradicts the verbal message. These will signal indecision and hence a lack of power.


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