A to Z of Soft Skills: I for Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills have assumed greater importance in today’s times when we live more in the virtual world than in the real one. But we cannot deny that interpersonal interaction is still very much a skill required in professional and social circles.
What are interpersonal skills?
Simply put, skills that you would use to interact with other people – verbally or non-verbally are interpersonal skills. These skills help us communicate with people as individuals or as groups. These are important skills to be successful in both, personal and professional lives.
Interpersonal skills, or people skills, include communication – speaking and listening, non verbal communication, assertiveness, managing feelings, conflict management and negotiation – to name a few.
Why are interpersonal skills important?
People with good interpersonal skills are more likely to be successful in life in general and not just at work. Articulating your feelings and listening patiently to others are basic skills that make people get along well in a group. It can help manage negative feelings, resolve conflicts and negotiate better. It all boils down to the way you communicate – with words and your body language. Interpersonal skills can help build relationships – even in personal life – because of the reasons I just mentioned.
How to improve interpersonal skills?
Improve your communication
Watch the words that you use. Get your tone right. Learn to be assertive to avoid conflict. Listen to people for ideas and not just to respond to them. Use “I” statements when you discuss issues instead of “you” statements which comes across as blame.
Be mindful of your body language
Whether we speak or not, our bodies are always communicating something. Have an open and positive body language to make people feel welcome. Smile when needed. Shake hands firmly. Nod when you listen to people. Understand what negative body language says about you and avoid it.
Emotional Intelligence is an important part of interpersonal skills. It is hard to manage emotions under stress or anxiety. But that’s where your skill in dealing with other people kicks in. Keep calm under pressure. Avoid blaming others and putting them on the defensive. Don’t be impulsive because you are having a bad day.
A generally optimistic attitude can go a long way in creating a conducive interpersonal atmosphere at work and in personal relationships. Whiners are unwelcome everywhere.
Understand cultural norms
You may deal with people from different countries as a part of your job and it is important to understand their cultural norms. This is key to building a rapport with them. Different cultures have norms for gestures and personal space. Be sure to follow them when the situation comes up.
Empathy is an emotion that we seem to be forgetting. The viciousness with which we attack people on social media has made us very impersonal. We don’t stop to step into the other person’s shoes. But this can have terrible consequences in real life. Pause and understand why someone is behaving the way they are. They could be going through emotional trauma and unable to express it. Empathy can take relationships to a new level of understanding further strengthening the bond between people.
Develop a sense of humour
Humour can lower defences and get people to bond like nothing else. A joke here and a wisecrack there never hurt anyone. To know more about sharpening your wit, read my post, H for (sense of) Humour that I wrote for this challenge.
This post is a part of A to Z blogging challenge where I am going to write about 26 soft skills in 26 days and give tips on how to improve on them. If you like these posts, do share them and tell your friends about it.