Interpersonal Communication, Who’s Responsible by: Leslie D. Register

Do you feel responsible for another person’s happiness or misery? Interacting with others is hard! Navigating conversations, personalities, perceptions, values, and beliefs sometimes feels more like a rumble than a conversation.  

As a leader, I often remind my colleagues you are not responsible for another person’s misery or happiness. If you are clear, kind, and thoughtful with your messaging then you are not responsible for the other persons feelings. Feelings are an inside emotion and a responsibility of each person to manage independently for their own personal health and wellness.

While we are not responsible for the personal feelings of another, we are accountable for our own actions. Let’s explore the key responsibilities of right thought and action as related to supporting others.

When collaborating with others, I have found these three (3) elements critical to achieving productive and positive results- Be Present, Be Kind and Be Honest!

 Be Present– Engagement with another is essential to setting a tone for clear communication. Effective engagement includes getting curious. Curiosity happens by asking questions that promotes dialogue. When we ask questions to seek understanding we can identify the other person’s needs, wants, and gain perspective on their emotional state through their tone of voice and body language. This in turn gives the sender the tools needed to respond.

 Be Kind– Kindness matters. Kindness occurs through using a friendly tone of voice, appropriate word choices and giving equal time for each participant to share. This Interpersonal Communication is meant to be interactive and relational. It is collaboration between two or more people expressing thoughts, opinions, and ideas to bring forth solutions. For healthy collaboration to exist, respect and kindness is essential.

 Be Honest– As Benjamin Franklin said, “Honesty is the best policy”. It is that simple! White lies, expanding the truth or even half-truths will lead to discord. Even when honesty includes sensitive or difficult information it is still the best policy. Fear can lead us to hesitating on delivering hard conversations. Our “inner critic” stirs up negative self-talk attempting to persuade us to avoid the difficult conversations. Breaking through this internal negative thinking often leads to a better outcome. Shutting down the ego and inner critic is vital to honoring honest communication. Remember, life unfolds as it should, and for that to happen honesty must be honored and followed.


How do you promote engagement and curiosity in your interpersonal relationships?

What actions do you take to show kindness?

When have you been willing to have the hard conversations at the benefit of keeping honest communication and allowing life to unfold as planned?