Regardless of your profession or line of work, interpersonal skills are crucial. Even if the job frequently keeps you isolated from interacting with the outside world – chances are you converse with colleagues at times. And how did you obtain that research position, for example? No doubt by interviewing with the selection committee as part of the vetting and hiring process. Interviews require a mastery of interpersonal skills to display your qualifications, desire, and academic achievements.
What is mass communications?
It is the ability to convey information or a message to a targeted audience. Another term for interpersonal skills is soft skills. Some of these are innate, others you acquire through experience, exposure, learning, and self-analysis. Some believe that soft skills can’t be learned or developed. Adherents to this theory operate on the premise that, by definition, a skill is something you learn by repetition, like playing a musical instrument.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines skill as a learned power of doing something competently or a developed aptitude or ability.
By the above definition, you can create new soft or interpersonal skills. If you’re not sure, interpersonal skills are essential as an employee? Think again. A report published by Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends in 2016 stated: 90% of respondents rated soft skills as vital for employee retention, leadership, and creating a meaningful work environment.
You may be thinking – I understand the significance of interpersonal skills for work, but I’m pursuing a degree in communications. Different scenarios, right?
Yes and no. You probably used an assortment of soft skills to reach the current academic level — interaction with faculty, admissions, colleagues, friends, advisors, and more. As you think about the next step in your education, the bucket of interpersonal skills may influence the selection of an area of concentration in communications.
Specializations and Related Interpersonal Skills
At the undergraduate level, areas of emphasis abound under the banner of mass communications. For example, communication studies, organizational communication, public relations, social media, marketing communications, applied media practice, journalism, communication sciences, strategic communication, and more.
The hard and soft skills differ according to the application of your degree concentration. Strategic communications demand technical or hard skills to craft impressive messages for management and a company’s clients and customers. Additionally, you might need to present the information to senior management, stockholders, clients, or the public. Therefore, public speaking proficiency is imperative. Some individuals are comfortable speaking to a small or large audience; others struggle to master presentation skills.
Similar interpersonal skills are paramount if you pursue a communications degree focusing on public relations. Public relations are a multi-disciplined, in that the term encompasses numerous roles in communication. According to the Public Relations Society of America, Inc., examples are corporate, crisis, media relations, social media, marketing, events, speechwriting, and many others.
Assessment of your interpersonal skills may dictate which specialty suits your personality. Many of the above roles place the communications specialist in the limelight. Do you thrive on being the center of attention? Do you have the confidence to report on information that might not be well received – but essential? The answer to these questions reflects on your level of interpersonal skills.
As mentioned, speechwriting and journalism come under the umbrella of mass communications. Both of these professions take you away from the role of spokesperson. You are in a supporting role instead of the lead. However, your function remains critical in public relations or strategic communication.
Some of the social media jobs involve creativity, such as creating content to promote a company’s brand, product, or service. Many different titles apply to positions in social media: digital content specialist, brand manager, media producer, and director of social marketing, to name a few.
Students pursuing a degree in this discipline have options at the undergraduate level. For example, with campuses in Iowa and Missouri, Graceland University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Media Marketing. During this program, you develop hard (technical) computer graphics skills, interactive design, mass media, social media, and web programming.
Graceland’s classes do not ignore the importance of interpersonal skills. There is a course in Theories of Persuasion and Communication Theory. The latter studies culture, ethics, organizational communication, and interpersonal communication.
As you approach a degree in mass communication, it should examine your interpersonal skills. Whether you work at the forefront in public relations or perform computer graphics, there will likely be teamwork—collaboration and discussion with fellow employees. Working as a team is crucial for success.
An extensive study conducted by Google, named Project Aristotle, tackled the question of – What makes an effective team? They concluded that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (individuals). Interpersonal skills make this achievement possible.