There are those people that have great interpersonal skills and can walk into a room full of people they do not know, yet they look and feel as comfortable as they are at home around their family. Then there are those same people that can walk into that same room of strangers and seem very uncomfortable, like they want to run to the corner and hide.
Interpersonal skills, people skills if you will, are the life skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. People who have worked on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives. I have known many people that were hired for jobs that they were not qualified for simply because they had highly developed people skills, and that is the number one thing that prospective employers look for. (These people easily learned the skills they needed to become qualified for the job and they excelled.)
Interpersonal skills are not just important in the workplace, our personal and social lives can also benefit from better interpersonal skills. People with good interpersonal skills are usually perceived as optimistic, calm, confident and charismatic, which are all qualities that are endearing or appealing to others. Through practice you can develop these skills if you do not have them, or you are not as good as you want to be with your people skills. Practice daily on the skills below so that you can be that person that walks into the room with grace and ease.
- Learn to listen. Listening and hearing are two very different things. When you “hear,” you hear what you want through your personal view of the world. When you listen, you hear what the other person is actually saying through their own world view. If you are only hearing what someone is saying and not listening, you might assume you know what is going on and then possibly react to that assumption.
- Choose your words wisely. When you are talking to someone be mindful of the words you say and the way that you say them. Everyone has a different way of processing what the other person is saying to them. I will give you an example to clarify.
Boss: You did a horrible job on this report. Look at all these mistakes!
All the person hears from this is that they did a horrible job. It might lower their moral and self-esteem.
Boss: Great job on this report. There were a few mistakes that I would like to go over with you so that you understand them, however you did a fantastic job on it.
What the person hears is that they did a great job even if they did make a few mistakes and their boss is going to help them to not make those mistakes again. This boosts moral, self-esteem, and the employee will feel valued and work harder for the company.
- Learn to communicate your needs so that everyone understands. Again, we all have a unique way in which we perceive what another person is saying. Learn to clearly and concisely point out what you are saying so that everyone understands. Do not think that just because you said what you wanted or needed was clear in your head means it was clear in everyone else’s head. Be detailed with what you are saying and encourage others to ask questions so that they understand what you want. This will benefit you in the work place as well as in personal relationships.
- Learn to relax. When we are nervous we tend to talk more quickly and therefore less clearly. Being tense is also evident in our body language and other non-verbal communication. Instead, try to stay calm, make eye contact and smile. Let your confidence shine. I promise that no one will bite you.
- Be positive. People are drawn to other people that are happy, positive, and that smile a lot. Maintain a positive outlook on life and you will be the life of the office party.
- Understand and look for signs of stress in yourself and others. Stress in small amounts can have a positive effect, but large amounts of stress in yourself or others can have a negative effect on everyone. Learn what your actions are when you are stressed and manage them. Do not take your personal stress out on others. Also, learn to recognize stress in other people. Look for their verbal and non-verbal signals that they are stressed and give them space to effectively deal with it or you are going to be the one the stress gets taken out on and that is not fun.
- Learn what it means to be a leader. A leader is not someone that bosses people around, or that demands people to submit to their every whim. A leader is a person that clearly states what they need done, in a non-aggressive way, and empathizes with other people’s situations. The leader’s goal should be “what works for everyone” instead of “what works for me.” You will find that if you take on the attitude as a leader of “what works for everyone” you will have much happier and more productive employee’s that feel respected and valued. Feeling valued by your boss makes you want to work harder to keep pleasing them.
These are skills that are geared towards the work place and the dynamic between boss and employee. They can be adapted for use in any relationship.