Research has shown that when you master interpersonal skills, you gain a major competitive advantage in the workplace. People are more likely to support you and want to help you. And as a result, working and getting the work done becomes easier.
Many working professionals, however, find it hard to demonstrate effective interpersonal competence in the workplace. Perhaps, they think that interpersonal skills and communication skills are the same. Naturally, they do not really know what good interpersonal skills are.
So, the purpose of this article is to explain interpersonal skills. It gives examples of good interpersonal skills and demonstrates why interpersonal skills are important in the workplace.
What are Interpersonal Skills?
In the context of a workplace, interpersonal skills can be best described as a set of abilities that enable you to interact positively and work effectively with others.
They involve micro and complex skills like listening to non-verbal messages, information getting, presenting information to others, helping, influencing, negotiating, working with groups, supervising, handling conflicts, managing relationships more effectively, so on and so forth.
In a global sense, interpersonal skills refer to the skills you use when interacting and working with other people.
And people use different terms to describe interpersonal skills. Some words that are often used synonymously with interpersonal skills include: social skills, people skills, face-to-face skills, emotional and social intelligence, interactive skills, etc
Elements of Good Interpersonal Skills
The following best practices describe the components of effective interpersonal skills:
Good interpersonal skills involve the use of goal-directed behaviours that increase the probability of achieving desired outcomes or minimise disputes and personal issues. Some examples of goal-directed interpersonal behaviours include:
- Managers motivating the team to work harder,
- Salesperson convincing customer to make a purchase,
- Leaders persuading others to make a concession during negotiation,
- Human Resouce Executives seeking support in a crisis situation,
so on and so forth.
Understanding and managing the dynamics of social interaction:
Interpersonally skilled people are able to read behaviours and understand the dynamics involved in the interpersonal transactions. They have a wide range of interpersonal competencies at their disposal. Accordingly, they select the most appropriate style to the situation and purpose at hand.
Examples of great Interpersonal Skills
Behaviours that demonstrate good interpersonal skills in the workplace are highlighted below:
Communicating comfortably with just about anyone:
Individuals with good interpersonal skills find it easy to strike a conversation with others. Despite the differences in culture, nationality, gender, etc. they are at ease while interacting with strangers.
Also, they do not hesitate to interact with people at influential levels in the organisation.
Articulating issues or express feelings while demonstrating confidence and poise:
In team meetings and brainstorming sessions, interpersonal savvy individuals express their thoughts and emotions with clarity and patience.
Their communication style does not lead to misunderstandings. No matter how heated things may get, they always retain their poise. And they speak unambiguously, gracefully and respectfully.
Exhibiting a positive presence:
Executives and managers with excellent interpersonal skills have reliable and positive personality traits.
They work well with others and do not give off an impression of superiority. Their outstanding interpersonal skills help them in influencing and inspiring others to work more effectively. They do not bring rifts or conflicts within the team every now and again.
And people who are around them find them approachable and easy to work with.
Listening to others with patience and full attention:
Executives and managers with effective interpersonal skills listen actively to others when they talk. Even in difficult conversations, they listen without interrupting the other person.
They have a high tolerance level even when they do not accept or agree on a particular thing. And they try as much as possible to make other people feel comfortable during conversations.
Giving constructive feedback to others:
Managers with good interpersonal competencies do not attempt any direct attack on the team member. Instead, they offer supportive feedback and appreciate the efforts taken by the team to do the task.
While following up on targets, they coach the team to facilitate improvements. And thus they persuade and encourage the team to do better.
Accepting constructive feedback readily:
Individuals with high interpersonal abilities easily accept correction. They do not resist taking instructions and following them to the book.
People with poor interpersonal skills, on the other hand, have a bad attitude and they do not readily accept constructive feedback.
Developing and sustaining professional relationships:
While handling projects, individuals with great interpersonal skills build good understanding and mutual reliance. They seek to be a team player and contribute effectively to team affairs.
Further, in cases of conflicts and negotiations, they come up with workable solutions. And they ensure that all parties achieve a win-win solution.
Why Interpersonal Skills Are Needed In The Workplace?
In a work environment, strong interpersonal skills are an asset.
You may be working remotely in a very technical job. Or you work in an office where you need to interact with colleagues or clients regularly. In either case, you spend a considerable part of your working day communicating effectively and relating to others. You focus on getting along well with your peers, colleagues, clients and other stakeholders. Parallelly, you continue to manage your reputation.
All this work requires excellent interpersonal skills. And so, you need interpersonal skills to work more effectively in the workplace.
Benefits of Having Strong Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace
Effective interpersonal and communication skills offer you more than one of the following benefits:
As you enhance your interpersonal skills, you become more effective in presenting yourself and getting your point across. When you talk sense, the way people see you and the way they hear your views improves considerably. Subsequently, your peers, subordinates, clients, and senior leaders start taking your ideas and opinions more seriously. And you gain more visibility and recognition in the workplace.
Managers with great interpersonal skills are much better at resolving conflicts, and gaining trust, particularly in challenging situations. They have the ability to ensure a collaborative work environment where all individuals can work more effectively as part of a team. Like a cascade, the increased collaboration then translates into higher productivity and better outcomes for clients and the business.
Interpersonal competence influences your ability to approach people and build rapport with them. It enables you to relate to others, and form and maintain social bonds easily and quickly. Consequently, you unlock doors to develop and sustain positive relationships in the workplace and widen your professional network.
Interpersonal skills come handy in the areas of reconciling differences, negotiating, building consensus, motivating and influencing, coaching and mentoring, etc. And thus, they facilitate more effective ways of behaving, especially in organisational settings where stakes are high and your every verbal and non-verbal response is being attributed a meaning.
Interpersonal Skills are as essential to your success as are the technical skills. They help you become more effective at work. And there is no doubt that good interpersonal skills bring more success to your career as well as in your organisation.
Can interpersonal skills be learned?
I strongly believe that each and every individual has the ability to interact with and relate to others. Past experiences as well as unstructured and unintentional processes of trial and errors shape your interpersonal competence. And no matter how successful you already are, there’s always some scope to learn more and do better.
Many aspiring and current managers soon realise that their interpersonal styles are unreliable and ineffective. They frequently experience issues with subordinates, colleagues or reporting authority. They either get caught in office politics, or their interpersonal interactions are not yielding satisfactory results. Managers with great interpersonal skills reach higher levels in career fast.
For continued more successes, therefore, you must overcome the barriers responsible for ineffective interpersonal skills and further widen your current interpersonal skill set.
So, go here to see the details of my flagship interpersonal skills training program. It will help you to uplevel your interpersonal skills and master all aspects of interpersonal interactions, relationship development, and communication. Consequently, you will be better prepared to score more goals in the workplace.
Your interpersonal skills are a set of abilities that enable you to interact positively and work effectively with others.
Though everyone has the ability to interact with and relate to others, there is always some scope to enhance your interpersonal competencies. Consequently, you can enhance your visibility, increase your professional network, improve collaboration, and bring more success to your career as well as in your organisation