When you're interviewing for a job, you'll often hear applicants boast about their “excellent interpersonal skills.”
But what exactly does it mean to have good interpersonal skills? And why are they such an asset in the workplace?
The truth is, mastering interpersonal skills is certain to get you far in both your work and social life.
Interpersonal skills will make you a more effective communicator, help you to get people's attention and focus, and allow you to avoid conflicts that come your way.
The ability to communicate effectively with other people is a fundamental skill for everyone, whether you’re managing a team or starting an entry-level job.
In this blog, I’ll discuss what interpersonal skills are, why they’re so important at work, and the most important skills to develop.
What Are Interpersonal Skills?
So, what are interpersonal skills? Interpersonal skills are your ability to communicate and interact effectively with people throughout your daily lives, including at work and in personal relationships.
They are essential to your success and happiness in everyday life, as well as valuable assets when you apply for a job or an internship.
These interpersonal skills are the behaviors, attitudes, and strategies that we use when working with other people and collaborating with your team.
Interpersonal skills are those that involve managing other people. Such skills include conflict resolution, active listening and working as part of a team.
They can also include emotional intelligence skills such as the ability to regulate stress and empathize with other people.
While some people are natural born experts, others have to practice in order to make these skills a habit.
The Importance Of Interpersonal Skills
Practical skills such as coding and digital literacy are valuable in some professions, but interpersonal skills are applicable to every area of life.
If you’re an accountant, entrepreneur, or retail manager, the ability to work well with others will get you far in your career.
Strong interpersonal skills are essential to resolving conflicts at the workplace with colleagues, friends and communicating more effectively with your romantic partner.
This will lead to less conflict, higher self-confidence, and greater productivity.
Types Of Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are basic competencies that relate to working with other people.
Here are seven examples of interpersonal skills that are valuable in the workplace:
The principles of communication are the foundation of a strong interpersonal skill set.
Being articulate helps you pick up on important details and makes sure your message is never misconstrued.
Communication can be broken down into two categories: verbal and nonverbal.
Verbal communication is a way of communicating with words. Good verbal communication includes being clear and direct while remaining respectful.
Nonverbal communication refers to the ways we communicate using our bodies, facial expressions, and gestures.
The best communicators are those who can read body language and pick up on other people’s nonverbal cues.
They are mindful of their own tone of voice and facial expressions, and they use these skills to interpret what others are saying.
Public speaking is an offshoot of communication skills, but it’s important enough to deserve a section of its own.
The ability to address a crowd is something that distinguishes good leaders from great ones.
When you have the ability to command people’s attention, you can do things like lead an effective meeting or even make a persuasive speech to attract investors.
Public speaking requires quite a bit of practice, as you’ll need to rehearse and plan out what you’re going to say ahead of time.
It can take a while to build your way up into being a confident public speaker, but it’s a valuable tool in any leader’s arsenal.
The ability to resolve conflict is another important interpersonal skill that every employee needs.
Workplace disputes are a part of life, but being able to compromise and disagree respectfully are critical.
Without the ability to remain levelheaded and look for common ground, you render yourself and your colleagues ineffective.
The ability to resolve conflicts between others is also an important interpersonal skill for leaders to have.
If you can find the source of the conflict, make sure that each party has their say, and find ways to meet a common goal, you can create a more cohesive team.
Active listening is an incredibly valuable interpersonal skill.
This refers to the ability to listen fully to another person without interruption, taking in the meaning of their words before formulating your own response which may become a listening barrier.
It also may include verbal or nonverbal gestures of encouragement to show the speaker that you’re engaged.
A good listener asks clarifying questions and pays attention to the speaker’s body language while being mindful of their own.
Empathy is an important key to working with others.
If you can’t understand why people act or feel the way they do, then you’ll keep running into conflict when your opposing work styles clash.
When you practice empathy, you take the time to learn how the other person operates so that you can meet them halfway.
If you stop to consider how your actions will affect them, you might decide to switch tactics.
Being able to empathize allows you to anticipate their reactions and minimize resentment against people who work differently than you.
A positive attitude is hard to force, but it’s easy to learn. It takes time and effort to maintain a positive attitude through the stress and burnout of work.
Train yourself to look for the positive side of things and see challenges as opportunities.
With a positive mindset, you’ll find yourself less stressed and less likely to succumb to burnout.
You’ll also be easier to work with, as you won’t take your frustration out on others.
Positivity is contagious, and the more you train yourself to stay positive, the more you will encourage that mindset in your employees.
The final interpersonal skill on the list is teamwork, which is a powerful skill for both employees and leaders.
Whether you’re leading the team or not, it’s important to know how to work with others towards a common goal.
Teamwork and collaboration skills include the ability to compromise and delegate certain tasks to other people based on their unique strengths.
If you tend to do everything yourself, you’ll need to learn how to let go of control and allow others to submit their own ideas.
If you tend to shirk your responsibilities onto others, you’ll need to practice accountability to do your fair share of the work.
As you’ve read, interpersonal skills can play a very important role in your life.
However, it’s important to learn how to use these skills in a way that will benefit you rather than harm you.
These skills should help you support, inspire, and guide your fellow employees rather than manipulate or control them.
As a leader, your job is to support the people you work with. Interpersonal skills are your most valuable tool to be of service to the people around you.
To keep improving your interpersonal skills, find opportunities to practice civil discourse on a regular basis.
By actively listening, communicating honestly and respectfully, and maintaining your composure, you’ll be able to have difficult but necessary conversations.
This ability will keep your interpersonal skills sharp and provide you with constant opportunities for growth.