22 March 2023
Interpersonal skills are essential to navigating the world, especially in the workplace. Even for those who prefer not to engage with others regularly, interacting with others is necessary for day-to-day interactions like working in a team or attending a meeting or workshop.
The ability to communicate and establish relationships with people doesn’t come easily for everyone, and some people may need to work harder than others on their interpersonal skills. But with some guidance, improving interpersonal skills is possible to become more successful in relationships, personal lives, and the workplace.
As a simple definition, you use interpersonal skills daily to interact with people, both in groups and individually. These include:
The ability to communicate effectively with others – verbal or non-verbal – may be challenging for some. There are many factors to consider in becoming a better communicator. Communication includes real-life conversations, written or printed material, body language, and your ability to listen to another person actively.
When it comes to verbal communication, the words we use and how we use them considerably impact the outcome. It’s essential to adjust the way we communicate based on who our audience is. On the other hand, the ability to listen to others is just as important as the ability to express yourself verbally and non-verbally. Keep in mind that there is a difference between listening and hearing.
Effective leadership doesn’t necessarily require the ability to sway people’s opinions on command. It comes from understanding a situation to develop a solution or plan that benefits everyone involved. By improving your decision-making skills and learning the power of persuasion, you can take the first steps to becoming an effective leader.
Decision-making requires the ability to find the best possible solution to a potential problem or situation. The best decision-makers often use a combination of intuition and reasoning to reach their conclusion. Intuition refers to your ‘gut feeling’ and is usually established according to your beliefs, experiences, instinct, and feelings. The reasoning is based on facts, consideration, and agreement between parties.
Learning how to resolve conflict is one of the most important ways to improve interpersonal skills. This involves addressing a problem, considering all the factors involved, and coming to a compromise that benefits all parties involved. Negotiation allows people to find common ground respectfully. In an ideal situation, negotiation can diffuse potential disagreements in the conversation or interaction before emotions like anger sabotage the case.
A meaningful discussion in which everyone explains their point of view is usually at the center of a negotiation. With strong listening skills, a productive give-and-take in the discussion may eventually lead to a mutually beneficial conclusion.
An effective team usually consists of individuals willing to take on whatever role is necessary at any given time. This means that you may need to be a leader, a coordinator, an implementer, an evaluator, or all of the above. Working effectively in a team requires interpersonal skills – communication, leadership, empathy, negotiation, and problem-solving. Taking on a group project is one of the best ways to practice your interpersonal skills and learn how to work effectively with others.