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Importance in CSAT

UPSC has introduced this topic because administrative services require a specific type of personality which can perform the task of administration irrespective of multifarious challenges.

In CSAT, none of the questions is directly asked from this topic, but the questions that are based on decision making and problem solving require the candidate to have good interpersonal and communication skills to get a right approach to solve the questions.

Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills

Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills-1 | CSAT Preparation - UPSC

Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another or to many people, whether verbally or non-verbally.

Communication from one person to another is commonly depicted as a simple triangle consisting of the sender, the message and the receiver. Communication skills have great importance in the work area just as they have in all areas of life. For most of the professions, communication skills such as being able to express one or to understand the others correctly are required for success and fulfilling organisation’s goals.

Interpersonal/Communication Skills

Interpersonal/Communication skills are the skills that a person employs while interacting with other people. The majority of interaction with others takes place through communication, therefore interpersonal skills are often termed as communication skills. Communication can be defined in many ways.
In simplest terms, communication is:

  • information transmitted.
  • a verbal or non-verbal message.
  • a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviour.

Importance of Interpersonal/ Communication Skills for a Civil Servant

  • Behaviour of a civil servant is an important aspect. Civil servants are expected to have respectable and pleasing behaviour. They are the servants of the public where they are dealing with every sort of the people in the society and also are keenly observed by the people and become objects of collective assessment.
  • On the other hand, for a civil servant himself, it is always beneficial to have good interpersonal and communication skills as he/she is in a social life where work environment demands on mutual cooperation of the public for making administration successful by fulfilling the needs of the people.
  • Moreover, civil servant has the task of interacting with various types of people, from a laymen to top superiors and other officials. Thus, it becomes indispensable for civil servants to maintain good rapport with the people when he/she comes in contact with them.
  • Interpersonal/Communication skills are necessary to develop certain attributes required for a civil servant like, analytical approach, good communication skills, logical approach, team management capabilities, optimism, emotional intelligence, sense of right and wrong, flexible approach, sincerity, planning, empathy, practicality etc., to deal with various critical situations as well as various sorts of people.

Elements/Skills of Communication

The ingredients that one needs to possess to make successful communication are:
1. Reflect and improve
2. Assertiveness
3. Empathise
4. Helping or facilitating
5. Questioning
6. Effective listening
7. Self-awareness

Listening Skills

It is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness and on the quality of your relationship with others. We listen to obtain information, we listen to understand, we listen for enjoyment and we listen to learn.
By becoming a better listeners, you will improve your productivity as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. There are five key elements of active listening. They all help you ensure that you hear the other person and that the other person knows you are hearing what he/she says.

Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills-1 | CSAT Preparation - UPSCThese are :
1. Pay attention
2. Show that you are listening
3. Positive feedback
4. Defer judgement
5. Respond appropriately

Significance of Interpersonal/ Communication Skills

Significance of interpersonal/communication skills are:
1. These skills can be used very well to give requisite essential, ample and correct information authentically.
2. By possessing these skills, one can influence the attitudes and behaviours of others.
3. These skills are essential to form contacts and maintain relationships in proper or appropriate way.
4. They help to express one’s personal needs and understand the needs of others.
5. They help to give and receive emotional support.
6. These skills help a lot to make decisions and solve problems.
7. These can be used to improve the organisational behaviour.

Illustration 1: Which of the following interpersonal skills for the civil servants should be essential?
1. Problem-solving and decision making.
2. Cognitive and analytical abilities.
3. Initiative and multitasking.
4. Dominance and firm determination.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below
(a) 1, 2 and 4
(b) 1, 3 and 4
(c) 2, 3 and 4
(d) 1, 2 and 3
(e)1, 2, 3 and 4
(d) The following interpersonal skills for the civil servants should be essential:
1. Problem-solving and decision-making.
2. Cognitive and analytical abilities.
3. Initiative and multitasking.
To the given choice, the statement 4 ‘Dominance’ is unexpected sign for civil servants. So, option (d) is correct.

Illustration 2: You have to accomplish a very important task for your headquarters within the next two days. Suddenly you meet with an accident. Your office insists that you must complete the task. You would
(a) ask for an extension of deadline
(b) inform headquarters of your inability to finish the work on time
(c) suggest alternate person to headquarters who may do the needful
(d) stay away till you recover
(b) Informing headquarters of your inability to finish the work on time, explaining the reason is the best action. So, option (b) is the right answer.

Illustration 3: Which of the following interpersonal skills is helpful in maintaining close friendship with someone?
(a) Borrowing things
(b) Volunteering to help in time of need
(c) Need for power
(d) Being happy in a party
(b) Borrowing things or need for power are not at all the skills that are helpful in maintaining close friendship with someone. Being happy in a party is an etiquette, but may not be helpful in maintaining friendship. Volunteering to help in time of need for a person will help to gain friends and maintain friendship. Thus, option (b) is the right answer.

Illustration 4: You have differences of opinion regarding the final report prepared by your subordinate that is to be submitted urgently. The subordinate is justifying the information given in the report. You would
(a) convince the subordinate that he is wrong
(b) tell him to reconsider the results
(c) revise the report on your own
(d) tell him not to justify the mistake
(c) Considering the urgency, options (a) and (b) would result in loss of time. Option (d) would result in an unnecessary dispute. So, the best action is to revise the report on your own and after that, you can guide subordinate about the report. So, option (c) is best course of action.

Illustration 5: Two skills associated with being a good listener are the ability
(a) to pay attention and to provide feedback
(b) to pay attention and to mask your disinterest when necessary
(c) to pay attention and to provide adequate leads in response to given message
(d) to listen more than one message at a time and to provide constructive criticism
(a) To be a good listener, one needs to engage in active listening. During active listening, one needs to pay attention to the speaker and is expected to provide feedback. The feedback should focus on specific behaviour; goal-oriented and well-timed. So, paying attention and feedback ensure good listening skills.

Illustration 6. A technique that might be used by an active listener is to
(a) describle the situation
(b) express anxiety
(c) paraphrase the speaker’s words
(d) offer a point of view often when in conversation
(c) Active listening skills includes paraphrasing by which listener restate a message using fewer words. Paraphrasing communicates that the listener are following the speaker’s verbal explorations and has began to understand the basic message.

Effective Communication

Communication is the transfer of information from one person to another. Communication can be defined as the process of sending and receiving messages that have meaning.
A complete successful process of communication between sender and receiver is called effective communication.

Communication Process

It involves certain factors such as:
1. Sender
2. Message
3. Channel
4. Receiver
5. Feedback
6. Context
The sender initiates a message or information by encoding the thought in words, pictures or symbols and select a channel either written or oral, which is received by receiver and decoded.
So that, it can be understood and sends feedback to the sender. This process needs a context or environment to communicate. They may be formal or informal.

Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills-1 | CSAT Preparation - UPSC

Essential Features of an Effective Communication

Some essential features of an effective communication are as follows:
1. Clarity and integrity of message to be conveyed.
2. Adequate briefing of the recipient.
3. Accurate plan of objectives.
4. Reliability and uniformity of the message.
5. To know the main purpose of the message.
6. Proper response or feedback.
7. Correct timing.
8. Use of proper medium to convey the message properly.
9. Use of informal communication.

Illustration 7: In the process of communication, the first step is
(a) encoding
(b) message
(c) decoding
(d) receiving
(a) The process of communication starts with encoding, i.e. sender starts his message, thus, encoding takes place which is the first step in the process of communication.

Illustration 8: Which among the following is the last step of the process of communication?
(a) Channel
(b) Message
(c) Decoding
(d) Receiving
(d) The process of communication starts with sender’s encoding the message through a channel and the process ends with decoding the message by receiver by receiving the decoded message. Thus, the correct answer is receiving, i.e. (d).

Illustration 9: What is ‘context’ in terms of communication?
(a) Effective dialogue
(b) Physical and psychological environment for conversation
(c) An interference with message reception
(d) Verbal and non-verbal responses to messages
(b) Context is the circumstances surrounding a message.
The circumstances might include the physical setting and psychological environment, like, the value positions of the people, appropriateness of a message.

Illustration 10: In communication process, to encode means
(a) try to create something new
(b) to convert signals into neutral impulses
(c) block communication pathway
(d) building morale
(b) In creating something new during encoding, the receiver may not decode the encoded message.
Encoding in communication network, facilitates communication process.
By encoding, sender tries to give message to the receiver, not tries to build morale only.
Encoding is the process of turning thoughts into communication and for that, mind goes through internal cognitive process. So, encoding converts verbal or non-verbal signals into neutral impulses.

Types of Communication

People communicate with each other in a number of ways that depend upon the message and its context in which it is being sent. Choice of communication channel and your style of communicating also affects communication.
Types of communication based on the communication channels are:
1. Verbal communication
2. Non-verbal communication

1. Verbal Communication

  • This communication refers to the the form of communication, in which message is transmitted verbally; communication is done by word of mouth and a piece of writing. Objective of every communication is to have people understand what we are trying to convey. In verbal communication, remember the acronym KISS (Keep It Short and Simple).
  • When we talk to others, we assume that others understand what we are saying because we know what we are saying. But, this is not the case. Usually, people bring their own attitude, perception, emotions and thoughts about the topic and hence, creates barrier in delivering the right meaning.
  • So, in order to deliver the right message, you must put yourself on the other side of the table and think from your receiver’s point of view.

Verbal communication is further divided into two,which are as follows :
(i) In oral communication, spoken words are used. It includes face-to-face conversation, speech, telephonic conversation, video, radio, television, voice over internet etc. In oral communication, communication is influence by pitch, volume, speed and clarity of speaking.
(ii) In written communication, written signs or symbols are used to communicate. A written message may be printed or handwritten. In written communication, message can be transmitted via e-mail, letter, report, memo, etc. Message in written communication is influenced by the vocabulary and grammar used, writing style, precision and clarity of the language used.

Written communication is most common form of communication being used in business. So, it is considered core among business skills. Memos, reports, bulletins, job descriptions, employee manuals and electronic mail are the types of written communication used for internal communication. For communicating with external environment in writing, electronic mail, internet websites, letters, proposals, telegrams, faxes, postcards, contracts, advertisements, brochures and news releases are used.

2. Non-Verbal Communication/Kinesics

This communication is the sending or receiving of wordless messages. We can say that communication other than oral and written, such as gesture, body language, posture, tone of voice or facial expressions, is called non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is all about the body language of speaker.
It helps receiver in interpreting the message received. Often, non-verbal signals reflects the situation more accurately than verbal messages.
Sometimes, non-verbal response contradicts verbal communication and hence, affect the effectiveness of message. Non-verbal communication have the following three elements:
(i) Appearance For everyone, appearance would be different e.g. speaker’s appearance should be his/her clothing, hairstyle, neatness, use of cosmetics and surroundings (room size, lighting, decoration, furnishing), etc.
(ii) Body Language It denotes facial expressions, gestures, postures etc.
(iii) Sounds It is all about voice tone, volume, speech rate etc.

Illustration 11: The principle of KISS in communication stands for UPPSC 2012
(a) Keep It Stylish and Subtle
(b) Keep It Short and Simple
(c) Keep It Sincere and Secret
(d) Keep It Safe and Shaded
(b) The principle of KISS in communication stands for Keep It Short and Simple, because when the communication is simple and short it will have clarity of message.

Illustration 12: You want to communicate about the changed rule of a policy of your organisation. As the head of the organisation, which one of the following modes of communication will you choose to convey the latest information about the policy to your subordinates?
(a) Oral communication
(b) Written communication
(c) Oral communication followed by written communication
(d) Through media
(e) None of the above
(c) The most suitable communication system for delivering new information to subordinates would be oral communication followed by written communication.

Illustration 13: You have been asked to give an explanation for not attending an important official meeting. Your immediate boss who has not informed you about the meeting is now putting pressure on you not to place an allegation against him/her. You would
(a) send a written reply explaining the fact
(b) seek an appointment with the top boss to explain the situation
(c) admit your fault to save the situation
(d) put the responsibility on the coordinator of the meeting for not informing

Ans. (a) In this example, the written communication plays an important role, so giving a written reply would serve as an authentic document to explain the fact because orally explaining to the boss and putting the responsibility on someone would not show that you are faultless and may not be authentic. Thus, the correct answer is (a).

Illustration 14: Which of the following is an example of a non-verbal communication facilitator?
(a) Eye contact
(b) Yelling
(c) Mumbling
(d) Jargon
(a) Yelling, mumbling, jargon are examples of barriers of communication. Eye contact is an example of a non-verbal communication facilitator. As eye contact regulates the flow of communication and increases the speaker’s credibility. When a speaker looks away, it signals disinterest, short attention span and lack of confidence.

Barriers of Communication

There are many reasons why interpersonal communication may fail. In many communications, the message may not be received exactly the way of sender intended and hence, it is important that the communicator seeks feedback to check that their message is understood clearly or not.

Barriers to effective communication prevent the receiver from completely understanding the message. Any stimulus that interferes with accurately expressing or understanding a message is termed noise. The barriers of communication may occur at any stage in the communication process. Barriers may lead to your message becoming distorted and you therefore, risk wasting both time and money by causing confusion and misunderstanding. Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message.

Some common barriers to effective communication include :
1. The use of jargon, over complicated or unfamiliar terms, slang.
2. Emotional barriers and taboos.
3. Lack of attention, interest, distractions or irrelevance to the receiver.
4. Differences in perception and viewpoint.
5. Physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech disabilities.
6. Language differences and the difficulty in understanding unfamiliar accents.
7. Expectations and prejudices which may lead to false assumptions or stereotyping. People often hear what they expect to hear rather than what is actually said and jump to incorrect conclusions.
8. Cultural differences.
A skilled communication must be aware of these barriers and to reduce their impact by continuously checking, understanding and by appropriate feedback.

Some Tips to Overcome Barriers

  • Improve speaking skills with writing skills.
  • Be a active listener.
  • Be positive and attentive.
  • Avoid possible noise and gloomy atmosphere.
  • If you are a listener, try to get clarification of the message.
  • At the receiver’s end, encourage the speaker by reflecting his ideas.
  • Paraphrase the message for better understanding.
  • Be relaxed and confident.
  • Try to empathise, so that you gain knowledge.
  • Come out of lacking in semantics (logic in language).

Illustration 15: Find the odd item from the aspects of communication given below.
(a) Access
(b) Priority of topics
(c) Interruptions
(d) Meaning of behaviour
(d) Access and priority of topics are essential for the process of communication whereas interruptions are the barriers to communication and meaning of behaviours nowhere occur.
Thus, the correct answer is option (d).

Illustration 16: You are attending a formal meeting of launching a new product in the market. Meeting is very boring and unproductive as team is not reaching to a particular course of action. Meeting is going on in your office. You would
(a) pretend to have received an urgent call and go back to your chamber/desk
(b) try to involve yourself and make the meeting more productive and help the team in reaching a conclusion
(c) bear the meeting because it would be rude to leave
(d) try to postpone the meeting
(b) Option (b) shows the assertiveness and power of verbal expression in difficult situations, leaving the meeting will show your irresponsiveness and bad image. So, option (a) is not suitable. Option (c) and (d) show lack of focus and commitment in the organisation’s interest. So, answer is (b).

Communication Flows

Communication flows are depicts about the flow of communication. Communication flows in five main directions:
1. Downward
2. Upward
3. Lateral
4. Diagonal
5. External

Downward communication flows from superior to subordinate whereas upward flows from subordinate towards superior. Lateral happens between same levels of hierarchy. Diagonal happens between a manager and employees of other workgroup whereas external communication happens informally where employees exchange their views.

Communication Networks

These are the channels through which information flows.There are five types of communication networks viz. Wheel network, Chain network, Y network, Circle network and the last one is All channels network.
Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills-1 | CSAT Preparation - UPSC

Communication networks are discussed in detail below :
1. Wheel network: a two level hierarchy, is the most structured and centralised of the patterns because each member communicates with only one person who is nearest to that member.
2. Chain network: ranks next highest in centralisation where only two people can communicate with each other and they finally communicates to only one person.
3. Y network: is the same as chain network except that two members fall outside the chain. This pattern is slightly less centralised two persons are closer to the centre of network.
4. Circle network: is three level hierarchy, it is horizontal as well as decentralised communication.
In this, each member can communicate with both the right and left members.
5. All channel network: is same as circle network where all the members communicate freely and it’s most decentralised among others.

Illustration 17: In which of the following communication networks, each member of the group can communicate only with his nearest member?
(a) Wheel network
(b) Y network
(c) Chain network
(d) Circle network
(a) In Y network, the members cannot communicate among themselves or with nearest person, but only to superior. In Chain network, only two people can communicate with one another whereas in Circle network, each member can communicate with both to the members right and left to them.
Thus, Wheel network has two level hierarchy where a member of the group communicates to next i.e. only one other person.
Hence, option (a) is the correct answer.

The document Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills-1 | CSAT Preparation - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course CSAT Preparation.
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FAQs on Interpersonal Skills Including Communication Skills-1 - CSAT Preparation - UPSC

1. Why are interpersonal and communication skills important for a civil servant?
Ans. Interpersonal and communication skills are essential for a civil servant as they help in building relationships, resolving conflicts, and effectively conveying information to colleagues and the public.
2. What are some common barriers to effective communication in a civil service setting?
Ans. Some common barriers to effective communication in a civil service setting include language barriers, lack of feedback, cultural differences, and physical barriers such as noise or distractions.
3. How can civil servants improve their interpersonal skills?
Ans. Civil servants can improve their interpersonal skills by actively listening, being empathetic, practicing good body language, and seeking feedback from colleagues and supervisors.
4. What are the different types of communication that civil servants may use in their roles?
Ans. Civil servants may use various types of communication, including verbal communication (such as meetings and phone calls), written communication (such as emails and reports), non-verbal communication (such as body language), and visual communication (such as presentations).
5. How can civil servants overcome communication flows and networks to ensure effective communication within their organizations?
Ans. Civil servants can overcome communication flows and networks by establishing clear communication channels, promoting open dialogue between different departments, utilizing technology for seamless communication, and fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration within the organization.
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