When meeting community partners, public health leaders must be aware of their limitations on communication skills. Some strategies that can improve interpersonal communication skills with community partners include active listening, minding one’s body language, respecting others, and requesting feedback. Active listening involves paying attention, avoiding distractive thoughts and external factors, not preparing a rebuttal, and understanding the speaker’s nonverbal language (Rogers & Farson, 2021). It also entails engaging in the conversation through body language by nodding, smiling, and other positive facial expressions and verbal comments that encourage the speaker to go on. Active listening also calls for judgment postponement to allow the speaker to exhaust their points before offering a response. This will facilitate a better response when the time comes and guide the listener in providing appropriate feedback.
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The public leader’s body language should be appropriate and positive. During interactions, the leader must learn to maintain good eye contact, offer firm handshakes, lean in to listen or speak, keep an open and upright posture, and nod (Khan & Zeb, 2021). These gestures show one’s confidence in oneself and interest in others. Practicing respect for others is critical in community partnerships as the leader deals with people from all walks of life. Respect begins with acknowledging that people have a right to have and express their thoughts and ideas. Therefore, a leader must object to opinions assertively and in a non-confrontational way. Since conversations are meant to facilitate the exchange of ideas, a public health leader should establish a method of receiving the partners’ feedback. Offering feedback will make them feel more valuable and connected to the mission and vision of the leader. The leader’s interpersonal skills are, therefore, critical to the success of community partnerships.
Khan, M., & Zeb, S. (2021). Academic conversation: A case to exemplify the influence of non-verbal communication on human interaction. NUST Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 7(1), 79-98. Web.
Rogers, C., & Farson, R. (2021). Active listening. Mockingbird Press LLC.