How to develop good Interpersonal Skills: Human Communication is a multi-facet learned skill which involves verbal and nonverbal messages. For a complete process of communication, the good understanding & interpretation skills are evitable. The messages either verbal or non-verbal requires interpretation skills for comprehending the messages in the similar intellect. The inability of a person in the understanding and interpretation of messages can lead to serious consequences. That is why interpretation skills are regarded as the critical aspects which directly affects the overall process of communication. 

How to develop good Interpersonal Skills

What is Interpretation skills?

Interpretation skills are the set of two separate words i.e. Interpretation and Skills.

“Interpretation” means to translate orally or to translate what is said in a foreign language.  It includes clarifying what something or someone means, grouping or categorising information, and determining the significance of a message. Whereas, the word “skill” means the ability to do something well or with expertise. 

Together these two words mean – the person who has the ability/expertise to decipher what is said in a foreign language orally in a particular way to bring out the meaning of it.

In words of American National Association for Interpretation (NAI), “It is a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and the meanings inherent in the resource”.

However, the word “interpretation” may have varied meanings in different contextual backgrounds based on the experiences, training & interpersonal ability of People. Yet, in the context of tour guiding it is not limited to presenting information only. Information is mere facts & figures presented before the visitors, whereas interpretation adds meaning to those facts & figures. It involves a specific strategy of communication to translate that particular information from technical language to easy everyday language of visitors and enabling the people to comprehend the information in an effective manner. 

“Interpretation is a communication process, designed to reveal meanings and relationships of our cultural and natural heritage, through involvement with objects, artefacts, landscapes and sites.”  – Interpretation, Canada

According to Rabotic (2010), It essentially meant at explaining the importance of several cultural and heritage significance of a destination in order to create positive impression, admiration & better comprehension of a particular destination in the minds of visitors. It also acts as a facilitator of change in the behaviour and attitudes of visitors which leads towards the establishment of emotional and intellect association between a particular destination and visitors. Encyclopaedia of Tourism has defined it as any action which pursues to clarify people the meaning of a culture or a place. It briefly describes &communicates the ideas of places, people and its worth (Chowdhary, 2013). 

“Interpreters or guides help audiences make connections with history, culture, science, and the special places on the planet claiming that they handle a very sacred trust – the stories of where humankind has been, who we are, and what we have learned” – Brochu and Merriman (Rabotic,2008).It is a progression which specifically aimed at provoking the cognizant minds of the audience and urge them to critically think about the topic in particular which is being explained to them. When the audience starts brainstorming for a specific topic then it further results in developing a new subjective understanding and narrative for that topic in particular. In the nutshell, interpretation is putting information in a way that resonates with your audience.  

How to develop good Interpersonal Skills

An influential interpretation is the one which aggravates the visitor’s courtesy by establishing the importance of the site with cheering enthusiasm among them. In such settings, it has become extremely imperative for guides to develop good interpretation skills which would empower them to convey the intended messages in a coherent manner. Following are some .ways which would aid in developing good interpretation skills among the guides: 

1. Proper Knowledge:

It is regarded as the prime & key essential aspect for every tour guide. Having proper knowledge about the sites, objects and related areas enable a guide to relate it with different historical & cultural significances. As an interpreter, a guide is required to relate the significance of a particular site with the different emotional, spiritual, historically & cultural dimensions of visitors. In order to develop a proper knowledge base, you should apply for admissions in some certified schools for tour guiding. 

Acertificate not only improves your employability chances but would also aid in developing your knowledge base.  

2. Understand your audience: 

A communication process is half-finished until the receiver is not being able to comprehend your messages. Therefore, in order to remove such drawback, a tour guide must analyse& understand his/her audience. A tour guide should be capable of assessing the personal attributes of his/her audience and then choose a right way to make communications with the audience. A guide needs to positioning the group, assessing group’s abilities, pointing out precisely, storytelling etc. (Christie; 2003). Understanding the attributes associated with the audience help you to make conscience decisions regarding the mode, method & means to start two-way communication with the visitors.

3. Be Relevant: 

Once you have identified the attributes associated with your audience i.e. their likes & dislikes, interests, hobbies, nature & perception then try to connect to all those attributes as quickly as possible. Look what is the most important things the visitors are looking for and connect to that. By doing so, you are making your interpretations personal & meaningful which would give visitors a sense of belongingness towards the site itself.  

You can also adopt the method of ‘self-referencing’ which basically focuses on making the interpretation personal by drawing a parallel from the lifestyles of visitors. This help in capturing the imagination of visitors who connect the new information provided by you to their individual selves. 

4. Be meaningful:

You should always keep one thing in mind while using any language or mode that it should be meaningful. The language used by you must be able to communicate the proposed message well to your audience. If you critically analyse how any of us approach towards a new information, you will find that we usually relate it to the past experiences or have a context for it. You can make your information by using examples, analogies, contrasts, similes or metaphors in order to enable your audience to correlate it. A classic example of a thing which is not meaningful is something which is causing confusion, may be using many technical terms, jargons or abbreviation. You must always try to avoid the use of technical language or use of excessive jargons because if the visitors are not being able to comprehend, it will kill their interest. 

However, instead of using technical jargons one can employ the usage of relevant examples in between in order to make their comprehension simpler. Always try to relate the new information to something that the visitors are already familiar with by drawing different analogies and mixing up them with one another depending upon the situation. 

5. Be Methodical: 

It is necessary for a tour guide that the information presented by him/her must be organised and arranged systematically. A methodical interpretation generally leads towards better retention among the visitors. According to notions of tour guiding the key concepts associated with the site, object or event interpretation should not be more than five otherwise the chances are higher that visitors got confused with them and whole interpretation gradually fade away. You must always try to explain such associated concepts in the form structured & logical way. You can also club such concepts into an eloquent story which would be easier to remember from the perspectives of your visitors. 

6. Be Fun:

The ultimate crux of every visitor is to have enjoyment & a memorable time during his/her tour. It could only be possible by adding fun elements in their journey. As a tour guide, it must be your prime responsibility to add fun-filled experiences for your visitors. Try to be cool & use humour. It will make you and your audience familiar with each other which would lead to the more relaxed informal association between you and your audience. Being chuckle some also reduces the stress of your visitors. 

Apart from adding funny elements to your interpretation, also try to correlate one thing with another. However, it must be logical enough. By correlating multi proportions of a particular place with its antique, traditional & moral connotations you could take your visitors into the leap of imagination & amusement. For this, you can also use active language while interpretation. This will not only grab the attention of your visitors towards you but also aid in connecting their conscious with the splendidness of site itself. 

7. Language Proficiency: 

Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart”. As a tour guide, you must have the proficiency in multi-language dialogues. A multilingual guide will be able to communicate to his/her visitors in unsurpassed means. Language is considered as the most critical and important aspect of the overall process of interpretation. As long as you do not possess such quality of a polyglot, you might not be able to excel in the other parameters of effective interpretation. 

Language proficiency is considered as the core characteristic in a tour guiding because it enables a guide to undertake other realtedactivitires which would result in better comprehension& retention among his/her audiences. Theorist believes that having proper knowledge is of no use if a tour guide is not being able to deliver the information in a logical manner. In such context, language proficiency is considered as prime requisite which precedes other aspects of interpretation like: having proper knowledge, relevancy, meaningfulness & humor. Therefore, you should always try to develop a multilingual personality which would help you in better interpretation. 

Apart from this, there are several theories, concepts, model and methods relating to various authors, writers, experts and psychologists in the field of tour guiding interpretation. However, the TORE Model is considered as one of the most prime and influential works. TORE is an acronym which means: Theme, Organized, Relevant and enjoyable.
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