Have you ever met someone who was really good at communicating with others? Maybe they were a captivating storyteller or genius when it came to resolving conflict. Maybe they were just nice to talk to on the daily and you felt like they really cared. People like this have what are called interpersonal skills. These are skills that allow you to interact and communicate clearly and effectively with others and are essential to success in the workplace, no matter what job you’re in.
So, what exactly are the best interpersonal skills to have and how do you get them? Well, you may already naturally have some, so let’s take a look at this list and see what you can develop further or work on adding to your skillset!
This is vital for all jobs. No matter how introverted your workplace, you’ll still have to communicate with someone (your boss, your coworkers, etc.) Good communication is all about being straightforward and clear about your needs while still being respectful and kind. It’s a balance. You don’t want to be too blunt, but you also shouldn’t dance around what you need to say. You can practice this in a few ways: when writing an email to your boss, take a minute and review what you’ve written. Is there a clearer, more direct way to say what you wrote? Or a kinder way to phrase what you need without sacrificing your candor.
On the other side of good communication is listening. How can you form a good communicative response without listening to what the other person is saying? Practice listening, and not just hearing, by not thinking about what you want to say next. Focus on what they’re saying and give yourself a moment to think before responding. You can easily practice this with roommates, friends, and family members on the daily.
Even if you’re a great communicator, you will run into disagreements or situations where you’ll have to compromise. Being able to negotiate means being able to truly listen to both sides’ needs and help form a solution that satisfies both. Whether you’re negotiating your own needs with a boss’ needs or the company’s needs with a client, you’ll have to be able to see both sides of the issue. One tactic I like to employ is the “feel, felt, found” method. Use “feel” to let the other side know that you’re aware of how they feel about the issue. Use “felt” to empathize and remind them that you have felt similarly before. Finally, use “found” to explain how this compromise has worked in the past in similar situations and that you’ve found it’s the best way to go. You can practice this by thinking of situations in which you disagreed with someone and reciting through your lines on your own. Remember to be clear and straightforward, but kind, like we talked about in the first bullet.
Giving and Receiving Feedback
This is a really difficult one for some people. It’s not easy to be told you’re doing something wrong and likewise it’s not easy to correct others! However, those who can skillfully give and receive feedback will be much more successful in the workplace and in life because they are able to accept what needs to be improved and work on that. A good trick to practice receiving feedback is to remember to not let it be personal. In the moment of receiving feedback, you might feel defensive or upset. Instead of immediately reacting, take notes on what the other person is saying. Thank them for the feedback and at a later time when you’re alone and calm, look over what you wrote. You may find that some of the things they say ring true and you’ll be more likely to implement their advice.
This is a very important interpersonal skill that employs all of the other interpersonal skills we’ve mentioned today. On top of those, a team player also needs to have empathy and a positive attitude. No one wants to be on a team with someone who complains or doesn’t contribute. Even if you’re having a difficult time or it’s not your favorite project, you can still be a good influence on those around you. Practice this by catching yourself throughout the day if you ever complain. Remind yourself to look for the positive and verbally rework the complaint you just said into something more positive.
Once you practice and master these skills, how do you show them in a job interview? For starters, you can practice interviewing with your friends and really focus on using these skills to interact with the interviewer. Some people think they can just walk into an interview and nail it, but trust me- you’ll want to practice! Be confident, happy, and clear when answering or asking questions. That shows off a few of the skills, but how do you show teamwork and negotiation? One good way to do this is talk about an experience you’ve had in the past where you were able to use this skill. Tell the story of what happened and how you solved it or what project you were on and the role you played. If you can tie those experiences in to what’s on your resume- even better.
After you land the job, it’s a matter of practicing these skills every day. There will be plenty of opportunities to practice, improve, and even discover other interpersonal skills you want to develop. Pay attention to the coworkers you enjoy being around or admire and identify what it is they do that makes them so great. Soon enough, these skills will be second nature to you and will help you with whatever career you choose. Click here to learn about digital marketing, a career where your interpersonal skills will be put to great use!