Interpersonal communication occurs all around us, and for all of us. It occurs at work, at home and while socializing. Sometimes, an individual's communication style is not viewed as friendly, open or even civil. There are steps that these individuals can take so others feel less guarded or defensive around them, opening the doorway to better interpersonal communication.
Sensitivity to another person's needs and accepting how they feel is showing empathy. Being empathetic does not mean that their behavior is condoned, but they are not made to feel alienated. Empathy leads to a feeling of security and the person is more likely to let their guard down, leading to a positive interpersonal interaction.
Personal opinions aren't given up, but the other person should not be made to feel as if they are being judged, put on the spot, put down or inadequate in some way. Defensiveness results from these feelings and the discussion deteriorates quickly.
Honesty is necessary to building mutual trust and respect during discussions. Being honest can be done without being cruel or insulting. Underlying motives and hidden agendas can also be sensed by others and this only furthers mistrust.
Arrogance and condescension have no place in positive verbal interactions. Individuals have to be approached as equals for the atmosphere to remain positive. This doesn't mean authority is given away, but it must be done in a way that the other person is not made to feel "less than".
Part of interpersonal communication is sharing beliefs, thoughts, opinions and plans. To make the experience positive, it should be clear that there is give and take and a certain amount of flexibility. Simply asking for the person's opinion keeps the verbal interaction on a positive level.
Implimenting these steps into life on a daily basis will go far in keeping communication positive regardless of where they are used. If the interpersonal communication difficulties are between family members and can't be improved by these steps, seek counseling.