Everything You Need to Know About Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are simply, as the name suggests, the skills that we use to communicate with others. This can include verbal as well as non-verbal skills, including listening, speaking, writing, having the right set of body postures, or even emotional skills.
Man is a social being. Hence, having social skills is not just an advantage, but a necessity. Having the right amount of interpersonal skills is a must in all wakes of life, be it professional or personal.
The world today is progressing at a far higher rate than it ever had before. Globalization has indeed made the world a global village. Business nowadays is more about collaboration than just churning out products. To survive amidst this, we have to work harder to improve our communication skills as well. Read on to know more about what interpersonal skills are and how you can cultivate them better to gain in your life.
Types of Interpersonal Skills
Before we see why these interpersonal skills are important, let us understand what are some of these skills. When we say the skills that we use for communication, this will include the below set of skills. There are a few categories of skills, which include further skill classification.
Communication is the foundation of interpersonal skills. All jobs require you to have good communication skills, and good communication is the key to healthy relationships. Communication can be of the following types:
Verbal communication includes more than just talking. It defines how you convey your message and how you respond to other people’s messages. We should be able to convey our message across the audience as well as understand what we are being told and act on it appropriately.
Verbal communication mandates that you speak clearly, briefly, and with proper enunciation. Requesting feedback and responding to it also falls under this category.
Non-verbal communication includes all the physical actions that you do when you are taking part in a conversation. The way you move, react, look, smile, listen, gestures, etc. constitute what is known as non-verbal communication. Action, to an extent, does speak louder than words. The person across you can gauge your interest and knowledge based on the tiniest movement in your face.
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Different types of non-verbal communication skills are listed below:
Your expressions can give away your thoughts and responses. So learning to control your facial expressions will help you in conveying only what you want to be conveyed to the other person, and to make sure that your private thoughts are not displayed publicly.
The way your body moves is a communication cue to other people about your feelings. This includes the way you stand, sit, walk, shake hands, or even just look around.
This is an addition to the body movements part. Your posture is the way you carry yourself. That can convey a lot about you as a person as well as what you think of the current company and situation. Taking care of your posture can send across a positive message to the audience.
We all make gestures when we meet a person or start talking. The way we use a lot of hands when we are animated and passionate about the topic or the way we greet somebody are all different skills for connecting with others.
Maintaining eye contact with the other person will help in establishing a connection while you are talking, as well as help to increase your chances of being taken at your word. It can also help you to understand the other person’s interest level in communication.
Human beings communicate a lot via touch. Whether it is a firm handshake or a warm hug, they convey their message perfectly to the person receiving it.
Our voice modulations tell a lot about the type of conversation we want to have. It is not just the content or what we are saying that matters; it matters how we say it. A friendly conversation between friends is different from a board meeting. This will especially be useful if you are having a telephone conversation, where you cannot see the other person, and the only way you can tell about the other person’s mood is through his/her voice.
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Conflicts are an integral part of life. Whether it is a family conflict or a professional one, we need to have the necessary skills to manage and avoid conflicts. Conflict management mainly involves using your listening skills to properly hear both sides of the conflict and come to a reasonable solution using your problem-solving skills. It might also include providing constructive criticism to one or more of the parties involved and acting as a mediator in future conflicts.
The ability to understand other people’s problems and show empathy for them is one of the most important skills of all. Whether it is listening to your friends’ problems or understanding why your employee with three kids was late to the office one day, we can all be a little empathetic towards each other. Having empathy is considered an essential characteristic in some jobs like teaching, where you need to have an empathetic outlook on kids coming from different families and intellectual backgrounds. Some of the skills you can cultivate to improve on your empathy scale are listed below.
- Care and compassion to others
- Helping mentality
Leadership does not mean giving orders and supervising. You do not have to be a manager or supervisor to have leadership skills. A leader is someone who steps up and takes charge in moments of confusion and need. A leader inspires others to work hard and makes everyone feel valuable and respected. You have to think not just about yourself, but the entire team as a whole and the vision that you have for the team and work towards achieving a common goal. You need to inspire trust among your peers and motivate them by positive reinforcement. But at the same time, you need to manage and mentor them to perform well.
Listening is not simply hearing things the other person is talking about. Active listening requires you to concentrate fully on the other person, understand what is being told, respond appropriately and effectively, and remember the conversation as it was. You need to develop your focussing skills more to avoid getting distracted. You should also cultivate the habit of curiosity and ask questions whenever it is okay to ask.
This does not mean your bargaining skills, though having good bargaining skills does not hurt. Negotiation means you have done your research upfront and know a solution that provides a win-win situation.
Your attitude plays a key role in your communication. Employers are looking for employees with a positive and friendly attitude. Even your relationships will begin to get strained if you are the negative Nelly of your group. Building a positive healthy relationship requires some effort on your part too.
Behavioral skills are often said to be part of having a positive attitude. Friendliness, maturity, common sense, etc. fall under this category. Having good networking skills along with a healthy sense of humor and rapport-building also counts.
Even if you do not work in an office, or do not have a boss, teamwork is something that you should be able to do well to say your interpersonal skills are on point. You will need to collaborate with others somewhere along the way. Being a good team player involves having a lot of the skills that we have already seen, like good communication, listening skills, a positive attitude, and so on. Collaboration is the key here. You should be able to work well in a team and facilitate teamwork. You should have no problems with sharing not only the work but also the benefits. Sometimes, it might be necessary to do things that you do not agree on but is better overall.
Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) is your ability to manage your emotions and handle them healthily and appropriately, and your ability to understand and empathize with other peoples’ emotions.
According to American psychologists, there are five elements to your emotional intelligence.
- Social skills
Having a good level of emotional intelligence is a must for developing your leadership skills. A good leader should handle his emotions as well as his team’s. He/she should be able to keep calm and assess the situation in times of disaster.
Here are a few interpersonal skills with examples.
Why do we need Interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills are an important factor in our day-to-day life. It affects all aspects of our life. Without the required social skills, not only are we at a disadvantage when it comes to communication, but we will also be unable to interact with anyone. These skills are relevant in our personal as well as professional life. We have already seen what the top interpersonal skills are. Let us see how they impact our personal and professional life.
Our personal life is heavily dependent on the people around us, our friends, family, colleagues, and the rest of society. The communication that we have and the bonds we share with them are what make life the beautiful entity it is. And communication is undoubtedly the key to any successful relationship.
Key skills like communication, empathy, conflict management, etc. are needed to navigate your relationships successfully. Teamwork is also needed at times to manage a household with your partner. Your emotional intelligence comes into play when you have to deal with your issues as well as your friends’ or family’s issues.
Having these skills and making use of them effectively will help you to gain success in your professional life. People with good interpersonal skills will have an easier time working with others in a team. They can communicate more efficiently with the other parties involved in the business like the stakeholders, clients, customers, colleagues, etc.
It does not matter whether you are working in an office, or working as a freelancer. Without proper communication, you are bound to failure. Your skills will be evaluated even before you get the job. Businesses are looking for more than academic excellence while hiring nowadays, some even have separate evaluations for soft skills. Rightfully, these skills are also referred to as employability skills sometimes.
How to Improve Interpersonal Skills
Now that we have established how important having interpersonal skills is, let us understand how we can improve them. I say improve and not develop, because even if you don’t realize it, you already have some level of these skills that you are practicing daily. And these skills are pretty easy to learn and improve as well.
Here are 10 ways to improve interpersonal skills at work.
The first step is to understand where you stand. You have to evaluate yourself and accept that you are good at certain skills and bad at others. Be aware of what areas you have to pay attention to and also your strong suits.
Think before you speak
Good communication starts not with talking, but with thinking. Take a moment to think of the appropriate response to the conversation, and make sure that you do not respond with anything inappropriate. Be mindful of the situation, surroundings, and type of conversation you are having.
Put your phone away
Mobile phones are a major distraction when it comes to conversations. If you are talking with someone, and they keep checking their phone casually, you would feel offended. The same goes for all conversations. Keep your phone silent and away from the table when you are having important conversations and pay attention.
Maintain eye contact
Eye contact is one of the key skills that we have already listed out. Try to practice keeping eye contact whenever you are having a conversation. Though this might feel weird at the beginning, with a little practice, it will be normal for you pretty soon.
Do not interrupt
Remember that communication is a two-way street. Allow the other person to convey their end of the dialogue without any interruptions. Do not try to complete their sentences for them or redirect the conversation away from them. The other person is sure to feel patronized and insulted.
No presumptions and assumptions
Go into a conversation with an open mind. Though it is advised to do research beforehand regarding the other party, it is also recommended that you do not form any presumptions about the nature of the conversation. Do not set the tone of the conversation by yourself, leave the other party a chance to contribute. Do not have any prejudices or assumptions about what the other person is going to talk about.
Be aware of your gestures and postures
As already noted, your body speaks for you along with your words. Be aware of the company you are in and make sure to have positive, open, and welcoming postures. Stick to a limited amount of gesturing, and do not turn to aggressive hand or body gestures even if the conversation turns argumentative.
Having empathy means you can deal with your problems and understand other people’s problems as well. You can sympathize with them and imagine yourself in their shoes. This is not something that all of us are born with. But with patience, understanding, and a little kindness, your empathy meter can go high. Just put yourself in the other person’s shoes and remember that people do not always share the bad things in their life. They might be going through a tough time and having someone care would go a long way.
Develop a positive disposition
This is what we meant when we said a positive attitude. If you are someone who constantly has negative thoughts, try to write them down. Evaluate whether your thoughts are valid or just the result of a bad day. Try to come up with positive scenarios whenever you feel your negative thoughts popping up. Start a gratitude journal, write down three things that you are grateful for first thing in the morning. Seek medical help if you feel like your problems are not going away, and you might be suffering from some depression or related conditions.
You might wonder how reading is going to help you talk to people better. Doesn’t that have the opposite effect? But think for a moment. If you are someone who reads extensively on different topics, you also know different things. That makes you interesting and smart. You can always find like-minded people in any crowd. You connect better with people if you have something in common. Maybe your love for ancient mythology is what is going to be a conversation started at the next party.
Express gratitude and appreciation
This is something that a lot of us neglect to do. We take for granted the people in our lives, and we forget to appreciate them. You know how much you love and respect them, but they don’t know that. That is why it is important to express what you are feeling. Write them a thank you card, drop them a message saying how much you appreciate their presence in your life, or the next time you see them give them a warm hug. Remember that your touch can also convey your feelings for you.
Be sincere and assertive
Do not lie to continue a conversation. Voice your concerns in a polite, but firm manner. Being sincere does not mean that you have to be rude or angry. But you should not be pliant either. You should stick to your points if they are reasonable and correct, and be assertive.
Practice active listening
Active listening is another key skill that you should develop and improve. Start listening actively in a conversation. Take note of the other person’s mannerisms and voice modulations. Participate actively and provide feedback or responses as required. Make sure you get the correct message by repeating it back and verifying with the speaker. But do not interrupt or patronize them.
Maintain your relationships
All the communication and social skills that we have talked about till now become insignificant if you do not care to maintain your relationships. Be it family, friends, or colleagues, you need to maintain that relationship for all these skills to pay off. Taking the time out to meet with them or call them not only helps in keeping that connection alive but also makes them feel wanted and loved.
Interpersonal Skills in Resume
Chances are you are reading this because you want to know how you can use your interpersonal skills in your resume or portfolio. Here are a few things to note that will help you along your way.
1. Identify the interpersonal skills you possess
Identify the skills that you possess that are significant to the job role you are applying for. If you are applying for a managerial position, Leadership is one must-have skill that you can put in your resume. Do not overdo it. Include only the relevant skills.
2. Tie your skills with accomplishments
Instead of listing out different skills, try to tie in different skills with your accomplishment. You can use the STAR method to highlight your accomplishments. The STAR method can be broken down as below.
S stands for Situation. Explain the situation which demanded you to apply your skills.
T stands for Task. What was the goal in the situation?
A stands for Action. What steps did you take to correct the situation by making use of your soft skills?
R stands for Result. What was the result of your action? Did it achieve the goal that you had set out for?
3. Showcase your interpersonal skills in your resume and in-person
If you have added string communication as your soft skills, make sure to showcase your communication skills in the resume. Have a good resume format and convey only the required information. If you have a personal interview or a phone call, take care to show off all these skills.
Read this article to know more about resume writing.
Interpersonal Skills as a Content Creator
You might feel that a content creator does not need interpersonal skills like people working in other professions. But that is a completely wrong statement. Strong communication is the foundation of any content. Whether it is textual, audio, or video content, the audience should feel connected to it for effective communication to happen.
As writers, we are ultimately creating the content for the masses. So it goes without saying that we should employ all the skills that we talked about so far to ensure that communication is happening. Content creators should be passionate about the work they do. They should be inquisitive and ask questions and should be active listeners.
Content, at the end of the day, is nothing but a story. So, to effectively put it across, content creators should be good storytellers. And what are storytellers without good interpersonal skills?