The world these days – particular the business world and the world of employment – is loud with the language of interpersonal skills. Whatever you want to call them – social skills, personal skills, verbal communication skills, or soft skills – employers love them.
In fact, beyond all academic achievement or knowledge of relevant hard skills, employers want to know that you can effectively communicate and interact with colleagues, clients, bosses, and customers.
This is the reality of the workplace of today, in which teamwork and collaboration, agility and autonomy are the keywords. The days of quietly sitting down to trudge through your work are over. Sociability, cooperation, and networking are the names of the game.
Of course, this is precisely the reason why interpersonal skills are having their moment in the sun – with listening skills, body language, conflict resolution, and adaptability being now taught all over the world.
Here, we going to show you the things you need to survive in this business environment – and we’ll show you just what your strong interpersonal skills can do for your life, job prospects, and personal development.
Let us show you around the new world of interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal skills are the competencies, qualities, and personality traits that allow people to interact with others and communicate effectively. Really, they are the social skills that you learn as you grow up and which allow humans to build relationships, to get along, and to work collaboratively.
Yet, with the business world’s ability to turn natural character traits into virtues, and its tendency to theorise and quantify the most basic social interaction and ways of being, interpersonal skills have become identified as a particular skill set that you really can’t do without.
And, honestly, they are important. When big teams of people come together to work, good communication is crucial for conflict management and a generally harmonious atmosphere.
Here, we’ve supplied some examples of the life skills that you can’t take for granted in business – and in the wider world. Because good interpersonal skills are not just useful to advance your career, but they are good to know for better relationships in general.
Become a leader with your new interpersonal skills!
The major interpersonal skill that people refer to – and that you will need to ensure that you have – is emotional intelligence. This generally refers to your ability to be aware of and manage your emotional responses to things.
You can see how in a work environment this might be important. When you are giving and receiving feedback or when you are managing people more generally, keeping your emotions in check is crucial – for the benefit of the team.
And emotional intelligence is at the heart of effective communication in general.
Communication is often misconstrued as the ability to speak, and write, clearly. Yet, that’s only half the story. Effective communication is the result of that – which is indeed a skill – and the abilities to listen and understand.
Effective communication is usually broken into three parts: verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and listening. Because even when you are speaking, you are communicating a huge amount through your eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice too.
You don’t need to be a leader to need leadership skills, which are usually described as the abilities to inspire and motivate, make decisions, and support and instruct.
Actual business leaders need these for sure. However, in all interactions with colleagues they are helpful too.
And alongside leading, working alongside others is crucial. Taking other people’s ideas on board, finding compromise, giving and receiving constructive criticism – all of these are elements of effective teamwork.
If you want to find out more about the different types of interpersonal skills, check out our article, What are Interpersonal Skills?
Communication is essential in the business world – as well as outside it.
There are plenty of reasons to develop your interpersonal skills – not least because they help you in all aspects of your everyday life.
Whilst we don’t have the space to consider all of the different benefits of enhancing your communication skills right here, you can check out our article on the reasons to develop your soft skills to find out more.
The most obvious benefit in this context is that, as we’ve already mentioned, employers love people with great communication skills.
This won’t only make you more attractive in a job interview. Alongside this specific context – in which you can demonstrate your self-awareness, your strong work ethic, and everything else – interpersonal skills are the fuel that help you to network, meet others, and sell yourself as an expert.
In terms of your career, good interpersonal skills are crucial.
If you are already in work, the benefits of your interpersonal skills don’t just disappear. Rather, an essential part of success at work is your ability to gain and give trust and respect.
To be trusted with greater responsibility, and to treat others with respect, will change your experience of work – as others will treat you as you have treated them.
As we can say a hundred times, interpersonal skills are not only useful in the workplace. And the ability to regulate your own emotions – or to really take on criticism – are such powerful skills to have in your armoury outside of work.
This is because they help you become a better person in general – and will help you develop too.
Whilst we now know why interpersonal skills are crucial, what many people want to know is how to improve their own aptitude in this skill set.
Obviously, this is a legitimate concern and the rest of this article is dedicated to answering that question.
Firstly, there are some simple tips for you to start improving your interpersonal skills straight off the bat. For more, check out our piece on developing your interpersonal skills.
Active listening is one of the most concrete part of the interpersonal skill set. It refers to a particular repertoire of actions and responses that demonstrates that you really are listening when people are talking to you.
Keeping eye contact, nodding, and repeating back the words of the person speaking show that you are engaged.
At the heart of effective interpersonal skills is a positive attitude – a refusal to get down in the dumps, complain, and moan.
People love a self-starter, someone who contributes their all and is happy to do it.
If you are going to make one change to your attitude to interpersonal skills, it should be this one. And it will make you feel better about life too.
You can’t get by in business without some interpersonal skills.
Empathy is crucial in interacting with others – as it allows you to see to why others might be struggling, not performing at their best, or feeling the way they do. This basic understanding will inform all of your other interactions with them.
So, just practise it. Try a simple thought experiment. Imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes – and you’ll be much better at understanding their perspective in the long run.
What people value as much as understanding is integrity. And if you are hoping to be noticed for your own interpersonal skills, standing by your values is the number one rule.
Stand up for what you believe in – and this will inform all of your other interactions.
Believe it or not, there are many different resources online through which you can find guidance on your interpersonal skills.
From online tutorials to blog articles and exercises, the internet holds an awful lot of potential for you to learn about effective communication.
Here are some of our favourite resources – and you can find more in our article on developing your interpersonal skills online.
Udemy is a massive provider of online courses. For people looking to build their communication skills, there are all sorts of resources available for you.
Take video courses in leadership skills, negotiation skills, or public speaking – and then get out into the world to put your new skills to use.
The internet is also simmering with blogs, articles, and feeds sharing information about effective communication.
Try Mark Sanborn’s blog on leadership and public speaking – or follow Jolynn Chow for guidance on all things nonverbal communication.