Interpersonal skills are set of soft skills we all use in our daily life when we interact with others. These skills are required for verbal and non verbal communication to work effectively with other individuals or group. Our work life involves working with team, be it team within our organization or external teams. So our interpersonal skills become extremely important for success. Unlike hard skills which are specific to profile or industry, interpersonal skills can be extended to any industry or any profile.
According to a survey by Linked-in of hiring managers, 59% of managers reported trouble finding people with right soft (interpersonal) skills. So Interpersonal skills are not only important but also hard to find.
While some people are born with interpersonal skills, few of us have to work towards developing these skills. There are many self help books to help us learn about interpersonal skills. But these skills can be developed only when we work at cultivating them in our daily life after learning them.
While the list of all interpersonal skills goes really long, we will see below key interpersonal skills which are significant for success:
- Clear communication skills
- Good listening skills
- Body language and non verbal communication skills
- Public speaking and presentation skills
- Team work
- Collaboration skills
- Conflict management and resolution skills
- Tolerance skills and respect for others
- Constructive feedback skills
- Skills to encourage and inspire others
- Skills to mentor and coach team members
- Emotional intelligence
- Caring about other people
- Comforting people when they need it
- Networking and building relationship (Socialising skills)
- Nurturing relationships
- Openness to feedback
How to learn interpersonal skills to accelerate your success journey ?
1) Start with self awareness:
First, it is important to be aware about your interpersonal skills and to identify at which specific skill you are strong and which skill needs to be improved. To identify this, practice to pay close attention to your behavior or language and how other react to your behavior. You can practice this mainly when you are in group in a situation which involves discussion, debates, emotions, taking decisions. Remember, these are interpersonal skills so to know your strong or weak skills relay on reaction from others towards you and do not judge your skills by yourself. You can even ask for feedback to your trusted friends or family since menytimes we might do error in judging self due to our biases.
Be aware about your body language while interacting with others and check if any of your actions making other people uncomfortable to speak to you (like if they feel you are aggressive or you are not interested)
2) Active listening:
If you ask me single most important interpersonal skill, it is “active listening”. After we are born, it takes us few months to learn how to speak. But it really takes us few decades to learn active listening. Practice active listening while interacting with friends, family and coworkers. If required repeat what they are saying to confirm you are correctly listening. Active listening will also help you understand your strong and weak interpersonal skills.
3) Refer self help books or take online classes:
Once you identify soft skills you need to improve upon, make a deliberate plan to work on it. Remember at a time focus only on 2 to 3 skills to improve and not more. You can start with learning those skills in more details through self help books or by taking online courses.
4) Seek mentorship:
Another way of planning to improve on your interpersonal skills is to seek mentorship from someone you trust or respect.
5) Practice what you learned:
Most people stop before they come to this step. Remember by just learning about the skill from book or course or from your mentor will not help you to improve. You need to practice what you leaned. Observe yourself during interaction with others and judge if you are practicing right by seeing reaction of others towards you while you are practicing the improvement. You are doing good if you are getting genuine and favorable reactions from others.
6) Seek feedback:
You can ask your trusted friends, family members or colleagues for constructive feedback. You can ask them for constructive criticism and also for positive feedback during your journey of improving skills.
These are step wise initiatives we can use to improve our interpersonal skills and accelerate your success path. Last but very important is to develop the habit of self reflection. Taking time to self reflect and think about your interaction with others, will help you to learn from self mistakes and further improve on your interpersonal skills. Keep learning.