Interpersonal Skills To Master In This Life
Interpersonal skills (also referred to as soft skills interpersonal skills) are key to the success of your personal and professional life. By learning the best interpersonal skills, you’ll build important relationships with family, friends, or colleagues at work.
Examples Interpersonal Skills We Will Discuss Here:
- Presencing Skills
- Attunement Skills
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Verbal Communication — the words we say and the tone or attitude about what we say
- Non-verbal communication — what we communicated without words, such as body language or tone of voice.
- Listening Skills — how we perceive in context both the verbal and nonverbal messages sent by others
- Conflict resolution skills
- Cognizant of nonverbal communication
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Emotional intelligence
- Active listening interpersonal skills
- Openness to feedback
- Positive attitude
- Respectful of others
- Safe for constructive feedback
- Self confidence
- Strong listening skills
- Time management skills
You’ll Get Ahead In Life Faster With Better Interpersonal Skills
Getting ahead in your business or personal life requires you to interact with others. One way to think of interpersonal skills is to think of them as people skills, social skills, of self-management skills. They are priceless, will be with you for the rest of your life, and are thus worth developing in yourself.
Interacting means that people have a positive experience when they deal with you.
For example: An employee confides in a colleague about their concerns, the colleague can show empathy or encouragement for them to get through their self doubt or fears. This is an example of good interpersonal skills.
Another example is giving and receiving feedback can help resolve problems between you before they become big issues.
By reading this article, you’re already going to be more aware of your sound interpersonal skills in the future.
The benefits of developing strong interpersonal skills go far beyond this article. This article is just an introduction.
Interpersonal skills will affect every aspect of your life, so my encouragement is to learn these skills as quickly as you can because it doesn’t take time to change old habits and integrate the concepts.
Strong interpersonal skills will help you communicate more effectively with colleagues at work and with family and friends.
What is interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills (soft skills, social skills, interpersonal relationship skills) make it easier to be a good friend, partner, and employee. They include listening skills, communication interpersonal skills, conflict resolutions skills and even building trust skills.
In our coaching and teaching approach, we’ll define interpersonal skills as: “The skills you need to communicate and interact with other people that produce optimal results.”
This definition means that interpersonal skills will include:
- Presencing Skills
- Attunement Skills
- Empathy Skills
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Verbal Communication—the words we say and the tone or attitude about what we say
- Non-verbal communication—what we communicate without words, such as body language or tone of voice.
- Listening Skills—how we perceive in context both the verbal and nonverbal messages sent by others
- Conflict resolution skills
- Why are interpersonal skills important?
Interpersonal skills are the most important life skill for anyone to have. There are common traits of people who interact well: they engage more with peers; they make communication safe for people; they show empathy. People with interpersonal skills advance faster in their careers, personal relationships, and life overall.
The ability to get along with people is the foundation for success.
The ability to communicate is a skill that all people need, but some people have more of it than others. A skilled communicator connects with others, makes friends, and stresses the importance of socializing. Others are natural born leaders and can manage groups without the effort it may take someone else. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, I want to encourage you not to compare yourself to others. Instead, focus your energy on looking at the results you are getting and back into the skills you want to enhance.
Now let’s look at why interpersonal skills are so valuable.
First, learning interpersonal skills will advance your career. Consider that strong interpersonal skills are like the glue that may determine how fast you get promoted.
With good interpersonal skills, you’ll feel better about yourself. Our brain is wired to want to guarantee our survival. When you have good interpersonal skills, you’ll be more relaxed inside and feel better about your choices in life. This will, inturn, project outward as a happier person. We all know that cheerful people are more fun to be around.
We have to communicate with and interact with other people on a daily and maybe even an hourly basis. With stellar interpersonal skills, you will navigate life, friends and inevitable conflict with more ease and flow.
Interpersonal Relations At Work
The quality of your interpersonal relationships at work, add up to the overall image you project. To build a good image for yourself, consider building your interpersonal relationship skills.
As your skills grow, so will your reputation if you like the culture you are part of. Only time will tell if the company culture is right for you. As you build your interpersonal relationship skills, it will become easier and easier to decide what the ideal corporate culture is for you.
Interpersonal Skills At Work
If you work for a company, you will be required to have exceptional interpersonal skills. More and more, corporations understand how expensive it is to hire employees that cannot live up to expectations. So they spend enormous amounts of money training their human resources staff to filter out people.
Initial impression relates to your ability to connect to others. The first impression is key. Once you are onboard, hold yourself accountable to live up to the interpersonal skills the company culture demands.
The more aware you are of interpersonal communication dynamics, the easier it will be for you to live up to the cultural expectations. Your performance reviews will be better.
You’ll get promoted faster.
You’ll make the life of your manager easier, which translates into an employee they look forward to working with.
You already have interpersonal skills, as we’ve all been developing different interpersonal skills since childhood, usually subconsciously.
Remember, interpersonal skills include your ability to communicate clearly, empathize with others, and respond appropriately to social situations and relationships. Everyone has different levels of interpersonal skills. Some people may be more skillful at communicating their wants and needs than others. There’s always room for improvement. It’s no different in the workplace.
Later, we’ll go into more detail about your work life and personal life, where interpersonal skills are also key. For now, though, consider the results you are currently getting and that will tell you where to focus most of your attention after reading this article.
For example, if you are not sustaining jobs for longer than, say, 3 months, you’ll want to learn the optimal interpersonal communication skills that are needed to get the best results in your work relationships.
Another example may include your level of success at work. Do you get excellent performance reviews? Are you getting promoted? Do you feel you have high-quality relationships with your peers? Do you feel you can be yourself at work or is it difficult for you to trust it’s okay to be yourself and contribute as you would like?
As with these questions, you’ll want to ask yourself which interpersonal skills are essential for you to know. You’ll want to know where to focus your attention as you learn the skills you need to feel better about.
Now, let’s look at some interpersonal skills in the workplace.
Interpersonal Skills In The Workplace
- interpersonal communication skills
- cognizant of nonverbal communication
- conflict resolution
- critical thinking and problem solving
- emotional intelligence
- active listening interpersonal skills
- non-verbal communication
- openness to feedback
- positive attitude
- respectful of others
- safe for constructive feedback
- self confidence
- strong listening skills
- time management skills
- Interpersonal Communication Skills
- Here are some symptoms when there is a lack of interpersonal skills:
- high stress
- unmet expectations
- relational breakdown
- low morale
- dissatisfied clients
- family problems
- health concerns
- smaller bottom line
- One of your roles as a company employee is to minimize conflict and be a productive contributor. If you communicate clearly, there is less conflict and less effort to achieve goals.
Focus your attention on how you interact with people. Specifically, pay attention to where conflict is predictable. A good question is: “What interpersonal communication skills would serve me best in these situations?”
Cognizant of Nonverbal Communication
There is always nonverbal communication occurring naturally in our everyday interactions. Nonverbal signals include a wide range of behaviors, including tearing up, laughing, frowning, breaking eye contact or glancing away.
Nonverbal signals during communication with others, creates a positive or negative impression about ourselves and our relationships with other people.
Paying attention to another’s nonverbal communication cues can help you to see what you are assuming or inferring from a person’s communication. Assumptions and inferences are often at the heart of where conflict begins.
Every tone, look, or word can trigger incomplete emotional issues in peers. By paying attention to nonverbal communication, you are less likely to be blindsided and can interrupt your knee jerk reaction faster so you minimize conflict.
Without trust, it’s hard to maintain or improve work relationships. Your goal is to work collaboratively with others and build trust. When you have good conflict resolution skills, you increase trust.
Conflict resolution includes knowledge about:
- personal responsibility for your contribution to the conflict
- listening filters
- non-verbal communication skills
- tracking your bodily responses to things people say
- learning to investigate the meaning and assumptions we humans regularly make without questioning them
- learning how to not take things personally
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
The ability to self-reflect is the key to critical thinking. Each individual brings with them unique talents and experience. This is the crux of solving organizational problems.
Critical thinking requires a willingness to pause and reflect on what you already know or need to know in order to solve organizational problems. Each of us has unique critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and the more that we explore these abilities and reflect on our experiences, the better we will get at problem solving.
Emotional Intelligence is being aware of your thoughts, actions, and feelings; seeing your impact on other people; and sensing others’ moods and needs.
Developing your emotional intelligence allows you to self regulate. You can make positive choices about how you interact with others and think before acting.
Active Listening Emotional Intelligence
Probably one of the most important emotional intelligence skills is active listening. Life is about connecting with others. All of us have the problem of our unconscious mind influencing outside of our awareness. When we practice active listening, we are being aware. When we show knee-jerk reactions, we are not being aware. By being aware, you can make better decisions in the moment rather than to react based on unconscious influences running the show.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes. When you can put yourself in someone else’s position, it’s easier to understand why they are reacting to an experience they are having.
I’ll also add to see the person as able even they are hurting. This helps them to build resourcefulness and to accept what life can dish out without resisting it. More on this topic, when I discuss responsibility.
Good listening skills is also part of healthy interpersonal communication. Begin with learning to be present with people. Neuroscience estimates that the average person uses unconscious habits and patterns between 85 to 95% of their day. If you can be present in the moment, the other person will feel more heard. Presencing practices will help you be more conscious moment-by-moment, producing better outcomes you are after.
Being a good listener is not just about hearing words coming out of someone’s mouth. Listening includes being sensitive enough to respond to the non-verbal cues as well. Listening has three major elements: receiving, processing, and responding.
The first part of listening is receiving the message. This means you are acknowledging what the speaker says by demonstrating your interest in what he or she is saying through your body language (eye contact, facial expressions) plus vocal responses (interruptions, paraphrasing).
The second aspect is “processing”, which requires you to attend closely to what the other person has revealed because it provides important information for how you will move on with this discussion. Think of it as taking time while they’re talking so that when they finish their thought, you have an appropriate response prepared instead of starting off with one knee-jerk reaction.
The third element, after “receiving” and “processing”, involves investigating assumptions or inferences.
Our brains love shortcuts, so it constantly assumes based on previous experiences. If you put all conflict under a microscope, you’ll think it is always about the beliefs people have and the meaning they have made of the experiences they have had in the past. Sometimes this works when our beliefs align, but when they don’t, we all need to stop and ask the other person more investigative questions to find out the context of their history and why they think the way they do. If we don’t do that, then we limit our learning.
You’ll also want to be aware of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes:
- Eye contact,
- Facial expressions
- Body language
- Physical contact (touching another person: handshake, comfort touch, or confrontational like pushing or strike another, etc)
Openness to Feedback
Be open to others’ feedback. If you are receptive to feedback, you’ll learn and grow from others — your colleagues, supervisors, and clients.
Every moment becomes an opportunity to learn about and change your unconscious beliefs. Some beliefs inhibit your ability to influence others. If you end up in conflict, reflect on what beliefs you are using.
A rule of thumb is to make interpersonal relationships a top priority in your life and you will learn more quickly how to get what you want in life.
Being open to feedback means you have self-confidence and that you are willing and able to grow through interactions with others.
Create a safe environment for others to provide input. Don’t take feedback personally. That is unhealthy. People need feedback, but they should also be readily ready to offer and receive constructive feedback that maintains respect for the other person’s feelings.
Sometimes life can throw us a curveball. It’s part of life. The quicker we realize that, that faster we adapt. I often remind myself of a phrase that keeps me honest: “The amount of pain we experience in life is equal to the amount of resistance we have to “what is” in life."
Let’s say you wake up in the morning feeling unmotivated. What I have discovered, after working with thousands of individuals over the past 45 years, is our unconscious mind has a lot of power to influence us. By the same token, we can learn to validate our underlying emotions and still choose NOT to feed them and focus instead on what we want to create in our lives. If I had one major takeaway from all the healing I’ve done, that learning is one of my best.
You can tap into a positive attitude more quickly. First, reflect on what you are doing at any moment and move your attention to being positive and optimistic about what you want to create. All successful people have this trait in common. They override their emotions, but they do NOT let them run their decisions either. They pause, validate their feeling and emotions, then pivot to focusing on what they want.
Respectful Of Others
We can show respect in several ways:
- show appreciation for employees’ efforts and time
- thank others for their help and generosity
- listen to what others have to say
- talk less about yourself
- be receptive to others’ ideas and opinions, even when they differ from yours;
- give credit where credit is due
- Safe For Constructive Feedback
Accepting negative feedback gracefully speaks volumes about your character and makes you extremely interesting in the eyes of the interview panel.
Being flexible and positive, being able to listen, and communicating well are important criteria for success at work.
Having self-confidence is having self trust. Having self-confidence comes from having faith in your abilities. If you don’t trust yourself, you may act out in insecure ways, which are often very damaging.
To build self-confidence, you need to learn and grow from your life experiences so that you can become skilled at what you love doing or doing the things that bring meaning into your life.
The sooner you learn from your mistakes rather than judge yourself for them, the faster you will move through the education process you have to go through in order to become skilled at doing what you love or doing the things that bring meaning into your life. This builds self-confidence.
Strong Listening Skills
When you listen well, it’s easier to maintain a healthy relationship. Listening well includes being able to track your bodily experience. For example, you could track sensations in your body when conflict emerges rather than to go into a fear-based strategy like yelling at the other person. Another strategy is to pause and question the meaning you are assigning to things you are hearing.
When you can simultaneously track your breath and sensations that get activated in your body while listening, you can more easily interrupt the memory system that every experience you are having is pinging off of.
Your brain and memory system are always keeping track of your experiences. It records data as a way of guaranteeing your survival. The intentions are good, but most often we need to question some of our reactions in life. Having strong listening skills is a great starting point to re-wire any beliefs or habituated patterns in you that can lead you to success or failure in any interaction.
Teamwork is a skill that involves getting along with other seeking the same result. Being a good team player includes:
- good listening skills
- a desire to see your peers succeed
- being a resource when the project requires your skill set
- constantly keeping perspective with all the differing opinions that happen while being part of a team
- conflict management team building
Conflict Management Team Building
The #1 issue on teams is managing the differences of opinions. Each person has their own perspective and, without training, can turn into conflict. Developing your conflict management skills can support a healthy team environment. In my years as an organizational development consultant, I might rate that skill as in the top five skills-competencies to develop. Get good at managing yourself around team conflict and you will be a person with power in the group.
Time Management Skills
In your role as a leader or a front line contributor, there will never be a shortage of projects to do. This makes time management important. If you learn to manage your time well, you will be more fruitful.
Failure to manage time well can lead to increased stress, burnout, and low performance. Having good time management skills teaches you where to focus on your priorities. Time management skills allow you to maximise your impact in the organization.
Interpersonal Relationships At Work Examples
Your ability to communicate is a good example of using interpersonal skills in the workplace. Good communicators know the value of attunement and empathy skills. Without knowledge of these skills, you can strain your relationships and make you less influential in the workplace.
Another interpersonal skill to master is conflict management in the workplace. If you know how to disable fear based reactions, you’ll get better results. Being mindful of your reactions allows you to change your thinking into curiosity and collaboration, producing a better results. Most people don’t like conflict, so it is easy to stand out from the crowd if you get good at handling conflict. It will open more doors for promotions.
Other examples of interpersonal skills include:
- active listening
At work, strong interpersonal skills can help to navigate complexity, change, and day-to-day tasks.
For example, a software engineer may work on code independently most of the time, but she may have to collaborate with other programmers to bring a product to market effectively.
Flourishing teamwork demands interpersonal skills like communication, active listening, checking out inferences and assumptions, inquiry and responsibility.
Suitable candidates for promotions include team players.
Interpersonal Skills in Relationships Or Your Personal Life
There are several interpersonal skills that will help you excel in your intimate relationships and personal life as well.
Here is a short list to get you started. Learn these interpersonal skills right away and you’ll be off to a good start until you can expand your skill level in time.
- Attunement Skills
- Communication Skills
- Conflict Resolution
- Sincere Interest In Others
- Presencing Skills
- See Others As Capable
- Attunement Skills
After getting present with someone, being able to attune to another is the next highest skill.
Attunement is when you sense into another person and feel what they may be experiencing. Reflect on, “what is the core value or want this person is trying to convey to me right now?” or “What do I imagine they are feeling right now?”
Learning to communicate well is requisite. Learn to listen well and learn to remain neutral when difference come up.
Another important aspect of communication skills is noticing the meaning you assign to anything. When you end up in a conflict, always question the meaning you have assigned to something the other person has said. You do that by asking questions. For example, “I thought I heard you say “X” and I think that means “Y”, is that true?”
By listening to other viewpoints, it not only reduces conflict but helps you and others to adapt faster because you are tapping into the collective intelligence of the group, which is far more informed than any one individual by themself.
When we get fixated on our experiences, we assume our answers are the best solutions. Without realizing it, we dismiss the others’ perspectives. This limits our ability to tap into the collective intelligence of the group. By staying open, even if you disagree, you encourage others to share. That’s where the gold is.
As you refine your rudimental communication skills, explore more, either about body language or facial expressions and tone of voice.
Learn the skill of being ok with differences.
When someone disagrees with you, allow yourself to be receptive. Instead of reacting, and defending your position, practice repeating back what you heard and confirming if what you think the person means is accurate or not.
Differentiation is one of the key tools I teach in my coaching practice. It’s one of those high-level skills that, when mastered, gives you a lot of leverage and saves you a lot of heartache and conflict.
Being “differentiated” means being able to listen without getting triggered. Listening in such a way, you are not comparing your past and projecting it onto the current situation.
Differentiation helps you keep the focus of the conversation on the other person’s intentions. If you are still incomplete about something from your past, and you get triggered, you have lost your ability to differentiate. Your amygdala has hi-jacked the conversation. This situation makes it difficult to stay in a healthy listening mode. To regroup, try investigating the meaning someone is conveying.
One way to define emotional intelligence is being able to understand and manage your own emotions and your perceptions of others’ emotions.
Emotional intelligence comprises four primary components as defined by Daniel Goleman: Self-awareness, Emotions, Empathy, and Relationship building.
Being aware of your feelings and emotions can help you be aware of the messages you convey to others. Reflect on your words or non-verbal forms of communication. This can make it easier to know if you are being understood when someone is talking with you, which helps ensure a better relationship between the two of you.
The personal skills , or ‘how we manage ourselves’, include self-awareness , self-regulation , and motivation.
Genuine Interest In Others
Learn to be genuinely interested in people’s wellbeing. Recognize when they just need someone to listen. Let them ask for advice if they want it. It goes back to the golden rule, “Treat others in a way you’d want to be treated as well.”
One hallmark of mindfulness is keeping perspective regardless of what we say. We lose perspective when we jump to conclusions or overreact. Instead, remain in the observer and stay curious about what makes the other person think the way they do.
Presencing is a skill taught. In fact, people almost never search for it on Google. After coaching people for over 25 years, I can say presencing is one of the top 3 skills to adopt and master to get the best results.
Presencing implies that when you listen to people, you are simultaneously tracking what is happening in the moment and recognizing when your past emotions are maybe interfering with current reality.
When you are present, you can let go of past comparisons or critical judgmental thoughts and focus on the other person’s meaning or values instead.
Being present enables you to listen to someone without bringing in your own emotional incompletions from the past. Instead, you’ll want to focus the attention on the other person. Your goal is to be a witness to someone’s experience rather than to be a nay-sayer because of your own unresolved past.
See Others As Capable
A common pattern I see in clients I’ve worked with want to fix others when they are in pain. When we try to fix others in pain, unless they ask for it, it sends them the unconscious message that we are seeing them as not capable of finding their own solution. This hurts them rather than helps them.
Each of us has an innate sense or organic impulse in us to be competent to survive in life. We thrive on experiences that teach us lessons. When the opportunity to learn and grow gets taken away from us, we not only lose that opportunity, but we feel resentful as the person took away our chance to learn.
The skill I’m referring to here is learning how to trust that people can handle their own emotions when things don’t turn out he best for them. Of course, we never want someone to hurt themselves, so be discerning if they are trying to accomplish something way out of context for their abilities. Exhaust all options before you attempt to intervene in their learning.
A priceless gift to yourself is to take the time to learn interpersonal skills that you’ll use for the rest of your life. Think of them as the software for healthy interpersonal relationships.
There are a lot of crossover concepts between what we need in the workplace, at home, and in your intimate relationships.
If I had to summarize in order of importance, here would be my list:
- Presencing Skills
- Attunement Skills
- Communication Skills (Listening Skills)
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Differentiation Skills
- Emotional Intelligence Skills
- Empathy Skills
Since 1997, Ed Ferrigan, M.A., CPCC, SEP has been supporting individuals, couples, leaders, and teams to improve their communication skills. To get a FREE introductory live zoom session head on over [here] and schedule an appointment.