The 5 Best Activities for Improving Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is the backbone of human interaction, and organisations that invest in these skills stand to benefit from improved collaboration within teams, reduced levels of conflict, increased productivity, and much more.

In this blog post we’ll help facilitators to design and deliver effective communication training that will empower individuals and organisations to achieve the outcomes mentioned above. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is interpersonal communication
  • The difference between interpersonal communication and interpersonal skills
  • Why interpersonal communication is important
  • What effective communication training entails
  • 5 activities to improve interpersonal communication skills in the workplace

Click here to jump straight to the activities.

What is Interpersonal Communication

At its core, interpersonal communication is the process of exchanging information between two or more people. This can be verbal or nonverbal, and can take place face-to-face or in other settings like phone calls, video calls, social media interactions and so on.

You may come across communication models like the one by Shannon and Weaver that mention sources, transmitters, receivers, and so on: this paring down of communication to a transactional model can be a helpful way to conceptualise it, but it’s also limiting. 

This is because communication is a practical skill, rather than a transaction. And to really facilitate improved interpersonal communications, we need to focus on delivering practical experience with a more human-centric approach. 

This approach focuses on things like:

  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Conflict resolution
  • Reflection
  • Leadership

The Difference Between Interpersonal Communication and Interpersonal Skills

The terms ‘interpersonal communication’ and ‘interpersonal skills’ are often used interchangeably, but there’s a subtle functional difference between the two:

  • Interpersonal communication is act of exchanging information and ideas between two or more individuals
  • Interpersonal skills is the broader category of accompanying skills necessary for effective communication

This post will address both with an emphasis on interpersonal skills, with the view to equip facilitators with the tools and knowledge to deliver effective communications training.

Why Interpersonal Communication Skills are Important

Interpersonal communication is a fundamental part of human interaction. In the professional context, interpersonal communication facilitates an improved understanding of communicated information and an improved understanding of different viewpoints.

This in turn leads to an array of benefits, including:

  • Effective collaboration between colleagues, in face-to-face or online settings
  • Improved decision-making
  • Stronger interpersonal relationships
  • Improved morale
  • Increased engagement
  • Clearer understanding of roles
  • Better navigation of complex situations
  • Improved professional outcomes

There are also outward-facing benefits for organisations that invest in improving interpersonal communication in the workplace. These include better customer relationships, reduced misunderstanding, better feedback, improved brand image, increased sales, and more.

What Does Effective Experiential Communications Training Entail

In short, good effective communication training moves beyond the technicalities of communication to the skills, attitudes, approaches and mindsets that enable effective communication. 

This type of training is about creating an immersive and engaging environment where participants can, and want to, practice, reflect upon, and refine their communication skills.

Effective communications training is that which improves an individual’s ability to make an impact . As well as speaking and listening, this training focuses on areas such as:

  • Learning about communication style: developing awareness of different styles, understanding preferences, and adapting style to suit the needs of others.
  • Understanding your limitations: fostering a mindset of ongoing improvement by identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Understanding how you are perceived by others: developing self-awareness, identifying potential barriers to effective communication, and learning how to adjust.
  • Understanding the impacts of ineffective communication: seeing tangible impacts of ineffective communication in a controlled environment, and developing strategies to prevent this.
  • Adaptability: learning what effective communication looks like in different contexts, and how to adapt accordingly.
  • Clarity: explaining succinctly, instructing accurately, and using unambiguous language.
  • Active listening: learning the importance of truly listening, and techniques for making others feel valued, heard, and understood.
  • Giving and receiving feedback: giving constructive feedback, giving feedback without causing defensiveness, seeking feedback.
  • Taking responsibility: learning how to take responsibility, and seeing the impact of not taking responsibility.
  • Tailoring communication to the context: adjusting communication based on the context, audience, and outcome
  • Effective nonverbal communication: using body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures to strengthen communication

5 Activities to Improve Interpersonal Communication Skills in the Workplace

At MTa, all of our kits and activities are built around the experiential learning methodology, which uses the following structure to deliver impactful, lasting learning:

  • Engaging group tasks
  • Individual reflection
  • Group review to share perspectives and develop ideas
  • Draw conclusions and select the ideas to be implemented
  • Learning transfer
  • Improved workplace performance

Three of our kits have a particular focus on communication: MTa Team Kit, MTa Mini, and MTa Insights. The activities below are taken from these kits.

Sorting Shapes, from MTa Insights

In Sorting Shapes, participants must work together to solve a logic puzzle that’s trickier than it initially seems. Accurate communication is crucial, with teams who struggle to communicate effectively coming up against all sorts of challenges – possibly including having to completely restart the activity.

This time sensitive challenge requires organisation and cooperation to complete successfully, and gives participants the opportunity to explore skills like asking for help, clarifying, listening, explaining, aligning behaviour to others’ needs.

Relevant discussion topics:

  • Accurate verbal communication
  • Clarifying understanding
  • Team problem solving

Take a look at MTa Insights now to discover Sorting Shapes and 52 other impactful experiential activities.

Back to Back, from MTa Insights – Communication, and MTa STEM Kit

This task involves effective communication at two levels, within and between pairs. It also sounds deceptively simple at first: work as a team to build a model. But as limitations on communication and access to information begin to affect the building process, the ability to give and receive instructions effectively makes the difference between success and frustration. 

Relevant discussion topics:

  • Communicating and appreciating the big picture
  • Effective two-way verbal communication
  • Giving and receiving clear instructions

Back to Back is part of MTa Insights – Communication.

The Frame, from MTa Team Kit

Do you need your participants to keep a strategic focus on the big picture? If so, The Frame will help. 

In this activity, two halves of one team are separated by a door. Each half has a different part of the same task, and neither team can divulge its full information, making effective communication more difficult as pressure and frustration increase.

For those participants that can step back and think things through, things become easier. And teams that try to solve the problem of developing effective communications rather than focusing on the detail of the task are more likely to succeed.

The complexity of this activity and the presence of observers make it particularly good for structured review and exploration of effective communication.

Relevant discussion topics: 

  • Awareness of the needs of others
  • Developing and maintaining trust
  • Testing assumptions (misinterpreting individuals’ actions)

The Frame is taken from the MTa Team Kit: 16 activities designed to build high-performing teams. Take a look at the kit here.

Carts and Horses, from MTa Mini

This is a fast-paced activity with competing objectives that must be deftly managed in order for teams to succeed, and things are made harder by the success of the overall group being dependent on each team meeting their objectives. 

And to make things even more challenging, communication pertaining to complex designs and constituent components must only be verbal. As the activity progresses, those teams who can communicate effectively and collaborate while resisting the urge to compete will pave the way for success.

This activity lets participants explore planning, verbal, spatial, retention of information, attention to detail and accuracy, as well as an ability to understand and respond to the needs of others.

Relevant discussion topics:

  • Monitoring progress and agreeing when and how to change plans
  • Communicating effectively within and between teams
  • Collaboration vs. competing

Bonus: MTa Coaching Skills

Coaching is a science and an art. And while various coaching models exist to help with the science, learning the art of coaching can be far more challenging. This is why we developed MTa Coaching Skills: our all-in-one coaching skills workshop designed to equip managers, trainers, and teachers with the tools required to deliver a more facilitative approach to learning.


For facilitators to make impactful improvements to interpersonal communication skills, we need to move beyond a transactional understanding of communication, seeing it instead as a network of interrelated competencies that empower individuals to connect meaningfully with the people around them.

The activities in this blog post are designed to develop advanced skills that are integral to effective communication. The experiential methodology and its inbuilt review stage give participants the opportunity to reflect and engage with their learning outcomes, and to take these forward into the workplace.

The MTa Team Kit is designed for facilitators and organisations looking to foster a culture of effective interpersonal communication. It contains 16 impactful experiential activities, each focussing on a specific set of competencies.

You can buy the MTa Team Kit here, or get in touch with our team to discuss your needs.