What are interpersonal skills in the workplace
Whether you’re a recent graduate or have been in the Working World for some time, the way we communicate with our colleagues, supervisors, and clients is important. There are several techniques that when practiced in the workplace can help advance your career or just make your environment more enjoyable and productive.
In the business world, these are called interpersonal skills, they are very similar to the social skills we were taught in grade school but at a much more refined level.
What are some examples of good interpersonal skills? When it is said that someone has good Soft Skills, more often than not that just means they have fewer annoying habits than the next guy.
I’m sure most of us have been in a meeting or classroom with someone that constantly interrupts or visibly shows their displeasure when someone else is speaking. Quite possibly this person has the correct answer but no one will hear it because of the overbearing way they are expressing it.
Interpersonal Skills are a set of refined techniques that when learned and practiced can allow us to more successfully interact with our coworkers and customers in a mutually beneficial and profitable way.
Here I have listed 7 of the most important interpersonal skills you can learn to help you get ahead in business with examples of some of specific techniques you can use.
Interpersonal skill examples
Some of the interpersonal skills under the Communication umbrella includes written communication and nonverbal communication. The umbrella also includes verbal communication skills, reading body language skills, and public speaking skills.
An example of interpersonal communication skills is when you ask someone a direct question and they respond. Read their body language and see if he/she shows what is said and what is true are compatible. Basically, to tell if they are being truthful.
Many people never use public speaking skills in a job setting, but many do. These usually are reserved for the management of the company or anyone else who needs to convey information to a group of people or individuals. Presenting for the company is an important skill which will improve with practice.
Speaking in public is usually not an entire job. But, well prepared and dynamic speakers are usually in high demand, especially by employers. These speakers usually are promoted quicker, receiving important client contact positions.
Some skills required to be a talented public speaker include superior verbal communication skills, audience engagement skills, and a certain amount of enthusiasm.
As strange as it may seem, good listening skills are important for communication to occur. Good listening and feedback skills are important for the interpersonal communication loop to occur. Therefore, listening and feedback skills are a very important part of your career.
For example, if a superior gives you verbal instructions for a very important project, giving that superior feedback on your understanding of instructions is essential. This ensures communication has happened, and the message received equals the message intended.
Some specific skills under communication are, Body Language, Active Listening, Verbal Communication, and Public Speaking
2. Conflict Management
Different people solve conflicts in different ways. With our unique experiences come different opinions and approaches on the subject. There are several techniques that help defuse and resolve these uncomfortable situations.
Managers and/or people of responsibility over others should know the options available to them and what they can use to solve these inevitable conflicts. There are several different approaches to conflict resolution depending on the situation and the personalities of those involved in the disagreement.
A person skilled in conflict resolution will be an excellent candidate for a management track. Some of these methods include avoidance, accommodating, compromising, competing, and collaborating.
Method one includes avoiding the problem or the people who are causing the conflict. Sometimes, this strategy is good if the ones causing the conflict will not budge on their feelings/opinions.
Method two is accommodating the other side. This strategy resolves the conflict by making sure the other party’s demands or opinions are respected, even at the cost of your wants and desires.
Method three is one of compromise, which managers and supervisors should learn to use to their advantage. This method finds an acceptable middle ground that, while not entirely satisfying either party, will satisfy to a degree the parties concerned. Both sides give a little. Some people have this talent naturally, while others can learn it whether through online courses or on-the-job training.
Another approach to conflict management is managing competition. This approach is opposite to compromising because one side wants what they want to the detriment of the other side or, the entire organization.
Do not get the idea that all competition in the workplace is bad. Sometimes, depending on the personalities of competitors, a manager can use competition between employees to his/her advantage. These conditions, are unique and should be approached cautiously but have a high potential for excellent results.
Some specific skills under Communication are, Avoidance, Compromise, Collaboration, and Problem Solving.
Leadership skills are important to have for anyone in a position of authority. A good business leader is always aware of employee concerns and monitors their progress and helps develop their skills.
There are several kinds of managers/leaders. One type may be comfortable with an autocratic style, while another type may be more comfortable with a collaborative approach. There are many kinds of tests available that determine what kind of leader you are and the things/behavior with which you are comfortable.
Effective leaders are important to help achieve company goals and successes. Leaders, along with their style, can help plan and communicate new strategic directions. They can help communicate with employees and motivate these employees to strive towards organizational goals and the best way to do it.
In the past, leadership was focused on speed and flexibility. Now, the same leaders need agility and resilience. A leader should stay the course toward stated goals, even when facing repeated challenges. He/she should recover quickly and continue toward the goal.
Leaders should be comfortable delegating to their subordinates. A leader cannot do everything him/herself but should have a good enough relationship with employees to work through them. Some beginning managers become stressed because they want to do everything themselves, not trusting their employees.
Leaders should be reliable, and subordinates will trust the leader’s intentions. A good leader should provide encouragement to his/her subordinates. A pat on the back for a job well done and a few kind words will go a long way. Leaders should be assertive and lead. This assertiveness should be balanced with a healthy respect of the subordinate’s opinions.
Some specific skills under Leadership are, Positive Reinforcement, Reliability, Encouragement, Management, and Assertiveness.
4. Positive Attitude
A positive attitude sounds like something one just has, but it can also be taught.
Developing a positive attitude is helpful in developing interpersonal skills in the workplace. In fact, if you want to know how to improve interpersonal skills, start with a positive attitude.
This includes a positive attitude concerning people and a healthy outlook (positive attitude) about people and work. Also included is the ability to see employees where they are developmentally and helping to make them better.
Some specific skills under Positive Attitude are, Friendliness, Optimistic, Positive Thinking, and Self-Esteem.
It is important to have the ability to empathize with your colleagues and clients. This means being able to understand their emotions like you were them. There are several different variations of empathy, including cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate empathy. As a supervisor or as an employee, it will benefit you to see ideas, issues, and feelings through your employee’s eyes.
Empathy entails having patience with employee personal problems because your small little work world is not the only concern of your employees. Empathy involves showing respectfulness to your employees for their feelings and thoughts. As mentioned earlier, compassionate empathy is the empathy that is likely needed, especially with employees’ personal lives and how these lives can affect your productivity.
Being able to show compassion and understanding can make you a better manager or fellow employee. Compassionate empathy not only understands and empathizes with what folks are going through but helps them take action to resolve their issue/s. If the employee thinks you are honestly listening to their problems and trying to help, the employee will most likely return the favor.
There are several ways that a manager or supervisor can show empathy in the workplace. First, an empathetic manager should recognize indications of overwork so that burnout does not negatively affect the business’ operations. This might take some extra communication with employees to know if they are handling their workload effectively.
Second, a manager should show interest in an employee’s hopes, needs, and dreams. You and your employees are working towards a common company goal. That does not mean that you are robots with no feelings or needs. In fact, part of your job as a manager is to understand individual goals and needs and use this knowledge to match employees with corresponding jobs.
Third, and related to the second, is a manager needs to show a willingness to help employees that have personal problems. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage open lines of communication and transparency. This will show your employees that you are open to communicating with them about personal matters.
Fourth, a manager should show employees compassion if the employee sustains a personal loss. You can show this compassion at the loss of an employee friend, parent, mentor, or anyone else that made a difference in the employee’s life.
Since we have all been through a loss, we can show empathy to our team members because we know how they must feel. This kind of empathy can be an effective way to establish bonds among individuals.
We may not relate to the loss the employee experienced, but we can show empathy and show that we support them through their loss.
Some specific skills under Empathy are Patience, Respect, Kindness, Compassion, and Understanding
Building a productive team is a critical skill for an effective manager. A manager wants to build an effective team to take advantage of synergy. Synergy is occurring when one team member plus one team member equals the work of three team members. This happens when managers and subordinates agree and can result from several things.
Effective communication is a critical component of teamwork (synergy). Communication helps to ensure that everyone has the same information and is constantly updated. One thing inherent in being an excellent communicator is being a good and active listener. Good listening skills will help you improve your career track and trajectory.
Possessing delegation skills helps to build effective teams. If a manager never delegates tasks or authority, then employees cannot grow in the workplace. Feeling comfortable delegating tasks/authority means a manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of his/her employees.
Being open to new ideas and not relying on “that is the way we have always done it” is a skill that will improve your career. Whether you are in management or you are an employee, being open to new ideas is a good paradigm to have.
While there is something to be said for the tried-and-true, improving your career, by definition, means doing some things differently. Differently here means shaking things up a bit, whether that means at a job or in your personal life.
Some specific skills under Teamwork are, Reliability, Respectfulness, Communication, Collaboration, and Decision-Making
7. Negotiation Skills
Negotiation skills and the skill of compromise mentioned earlier go hand-in-hand. As a general rule, negotiation ends with both parties making concessions so that everyone benefits. Neither party gets everything they want, but both get most of what they need.
Negotiations often occur in the workplace and can happen between departments, coworkers, or between the employer and employee. Project timelines, compensation, and benefits, or contract terms can be negotiated.
Negotiation is important and common, so a manager should understand different ways of negotiating. Skills important to negotiation include communication skills, planning skills, strategizing skills, and the art of persuasion.
Types of negotiations include distributive negotiations, integrative negotiations, coworker negotiations, management negotiations, and vendor negotiations. Improving these interpersonal skills in the workplace skills will be helpful to improve one’s career.
Some specific skills under Negotiation Skills are, Influence, Persuasion, Active Listing, and Strategic Thinking
By Bryan Greene