Meaning of Interpersonal Relationships

Interpersonal relationships are the mutual, reciprocal relationships or relatedness between and among people in the community. It is an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring. It may be based on love, liking, business interaction or some other types of social commitments.

They take place in variety of context such as family, friends, marriage, associates, work, clubs, neighborhood, and places of worship. They may be regulated by law, custom or mutual agreement, and are the basis of social groups and society as a whole.


Types of Interpersonal Relationships

  1. Kinship and family relation – people who are related through blood; i.e. mother, father, son or daughter and other extended members of the family.
  2. Marriage: husband, wife, father in law, mother in law, uncle by marriage, or aunt by marriage. Long term formalized by law.
  3. Loving relationship or romantic: living or without living together.
  4. Friendship – internet pals, pen-pals, club, organization, association, society, fraternity.
  5. Professional / Business relationships – those who are associated by work or business.
  6. Comradeship of fellow soldiers in peace or war.
  7. Soul-mates – individuals drawn intimately through favourable meeting of minds and find mutual acceptance / understanding. May become sexual partners, but not necessary.
  8. Individuals and government relationships.
  9. Peer relationships.
  10. Government and government relationships.


Skills that Promote Interpersonal Relationships

Interpersonal relationship skills are important in relationship with family and other people (friends, co-workers, and employees). These skills will help one to influence others to have a positive attitude toward other types of relationship.

  1. Patience – don’t be quick to criticize, condemn or complain about people.
  2. Honesty – be truthful in your dealings with others.
  3. Tolerance – Appreciate people. Always remember that no two people can be exactly the same, even twins born of the same parents. Therefore, when you sometimes notice things you do not like about people, tell them in very polite and non-hurtful manner.
  4. Kindness – be nice to people. Show them affection and go the extra mile to engage in good deeds to others.
  5. Smile – Smiles could be contagious. They make others feel warm inside and warmer towards you. Try it right now: just smile!
  6. Listening skills – Listen more but speak less, and encourage others to talk more about themselves. Listen to both verbal and nonverbal (gestures, cues, eye movement, facial expression, etc.) of others during conversation.
  7. Make others feel important – This goes for any type of interpersonal relationship including your friends, teachers, neighbours, family – anyone. People like to feel important. Again, it is important that you do this with sincerity.
  8. Avoid argument and understand that you are not always right – When two people argue, neither one is really listening to the other. Listen to other person’s thought, then take time to consider them. Maybe you are not right. And if you are right be tactful in the way you present it so that the other person’s feeling is not injured.
  9. Suggest, don’t tell or impose – Interpersonal relationship is not promoted when you tell someone how to do something or how to think. Instead, try offering suggestions. Suggestions leave people more open to consider your idea rather than stubbornly defending their position.
  10. Caring – Be genuinely caring to others. Remember that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.


Inter-Communal Relationship

Inter – Communal relationship is the type of relationship existing between or among a group (not all of one family) sharing accommodation, goods, services, beliefs, religion and geographical boundary or space.

Globally and nationally, there have been several communal feuds among people at times of those who have the same historical background; co-existed for hundreds of years through inter-marriage and commerce. At the end of such communal feuds, what you find is: wanton destruction of lives and properties. At times, the financial implication of such communal unrest runs into hundreds of millions of naira. Also, residents are made to flee their homes and take refuge elsewhere living in deplorable conditions. At times, the old and the young become psychologically traumatized or disturbed whenever they remember their loved ones killed or maimed in such communal unrest.


Importance of Inter-Communal Relationships

It is said that no human being or a group of people could remain an island. Therefore, an inter-communal relationship that is cordial is important for the following reasons:

  1. It is the roadmap to peace and good neighbourliness: Inter-communal relationship has always been a tool for ensuring peace among communities and towns dating back to thousands of years. This perhaps explain why kings of neighbouring communities those times encouraged inter-marriage among their subjects, while kings exchange their daughters to one another as wives.
  2. Inter-communal relationship promotes development: Usually, development in all sectors of the community is possible once there is peace.
  3. It enhances security of lives and property: Harmony of good inter-communal relationships allow for the formation of security outfits by the communities themselves to complement the government’s law enforcement agents. Such security outfits are called different names in Nigeria such as Bakassi Boys, OPC (Oodua People’s Congress) Local Vigilante Group or Neighbourhood Watch.
  4. Inter-communal relationship promotes commerce among the community dwellers: There is encouragement of specialization since trading of goods and commodities is encouraged among the people. Joint market venues are developed while in rural and semi-urban communities the roads leading to such joint markets are maintained by all the community dwellers, where necessary make-shift bridges are constructed to link up communities.
  5. Inter-communal relationship allows for the inter-change of culture, norms, food, dressing style, hairstyle, etc among community members.
  6. Inter-communal relationship discourage disaffection, disharmony and thus promote affection, love, peace, development and other good qualities of life between and among neighbours.


Skills for Resolving Inter-Communal Conflicts

Conflict is an unavoidable reality in inter-communal relationships. Therefore, all and sundry must be equipped with the necessary skills required to prevent a reoccurrence of conflicts, manage imaginary, perceived and ongoing conflicts.


These skills are:

  1. Dialogue – this is talking about the problem. Whenever there is an issue that could degenerate to conflict, all concerned must sit at the table to discuss it, not to find fault but to prevent its escalation by coming up with suggestions to ease the pains and wounds experienced by the aggrieved people.
  2. Mediation – This is a process where third parties intervenes between two or more communities with a view to resolving their differences on issues and prevent violence.
  3. Compensation – This is the payment in cash or kind made to aggrieved people by an individual, group or government to repay them for whatever kind of loss they have experienced as a result of their action or inaction.
  4. Setting up a fact finding committee – Is to investigate the remote and the immediate causes of the inter-communal conflicts and to come up with recommendations to prevent reoccurrence, and punish those found guilty of fuelling the crises.
  5. Relocation of a group from disputed location to another particularly if it has to do with land ownership tussles – This is usually done by the government and such relocation of people is usually gazetted or indicated in the laws of the state or country.
  6. Establishing joint commission to manage the resources disputed by the warring communities. Profits accrued are shared to the people based on agreed formula.
  7. Teaching or spreading the gospel of peace to all communities through advertisement on the electronic media, newspapers and billboard. At times, some countries teach appropriate Inter-communal relationship to students (at all levels of schooling) through civic education, citizenship education, and general studies etc.

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