The contribution of effective interpersonal communication to success in both personal and professional contexts is now widely recognised. This topic is studied in its own right on many further and higher education programmes. Interpersonal training programmes have also been reported in the literature for every professional group, and the contribution of communication to social and personal well-being has been well researched. It is clear that the ability to communicate effectively at an interpersonal level is a vital part of the human condition. As such, knowledge of various types of skills, and of their effects in social interaction, is crucial for interpersonal functioning. It is for this reason that interest in the study of skilled communication has mushroomed in the past few years.
The present text emerged from our earlier book Social skills in interpersonal communication. It is eight years since the third edition of this book was published, and during this time we have received a considerable amount of feedback from tutors and trainees involved in interpersonal skills programmes, as well as from practising professionals. The result of this feedback has developed and shaped the current text. For example, the term 'social skill' tends to predominate within clinical contexts and in developmental/elementary educational fields. In academic and professional spheres, the more common usage now tends to be 'interpersonal skill' or 'communication skill' (Dickson et al., 1997). The changed title of this new edition reflects the fact that its heartland lies in the academic domain of interpersonal communication, as applied to higher-order contexts. It also reflects the fact that the treatment of skill in the book encompasses a comprehensive review of research findings and analyses of theoretical perspectives, as well as direct applications to practice in a range of social settings.
The function of the book is to provide a key reference for the study of interpersonal communication per se. It is concerned with the identification, analysis and evaluation of a range of skills that are employed widely in interaction. As such, this text will be of interest both to students of interpersonal communication in general, and to qualified personnel and trainees in many fields in particular. Detailed accounts are provided of fourteen areas, namely: nonverbal communication; reinforcement; questioning; reflecting, listening; explaining; self-disclosure; set induction; closure; assertiveness; influencing; negotiating; and interacting in, and leading, group discussions.
However, from our personal perspective, the most significant change is the