Interpersonal skills are not just used at work and then turned off outside of the workplace. These skills are used and needed in almost every area of life because they are a major part of successful, everyday communication. It is how we can convey our approval, disdain, confusion, excitement, or disappointment to others. Those same interpersonal skills can also convey rudeness, insolence, frustration, fear, and lack of interest.
With the majority of our communication being digital, we are often inundated with a barrage of emails, scheduled virtual meetings, and webinars. Most of us have discovered the “camera off” setting on our various streaming platforms. We mute ourselves, indulge in a snack or drink of choice, check messages and proceed to get through these meetings as quickly as possible, all while others are unable to see us. In becoming a little more relaxed, it can become very easy to become too casual in how we interact and respond to others. It is not uncommon to have emails, instant messages and any other replies become lost in translation; they can become completely misinterpreted.
Good manners are important and not only in our personal relationships but especially at the workplace. Actually, interpersonal skills are considered just as important as technical skills.
What Are Interpersonal Skills?
In essence, interpersonal skills are skills to help a person communicate effectively, interact with individuals and groups, and aid in being able to pick up on the emotions and feedback of those in the room. They can be verbal and non-verbal. Efficient communication is imperative in any business, and these skills are what is necessary to develop positive working relationships, which in turn leads to reciprocation of information, skills, collaboration, ideas, an increase of productivity and potentially help in career advancement. Several other important interpersonal skills are listening, work ethic, problem-solving abilities, a positive attitude, workplace etiquette, and conflict management.
Why Are They Important?
Effective quality interpersonal skills can help you get hired and retain the job. It helps others perceive you as approachable, opens the door to more opportunities and makes group interaction more positive. Poor interpersonal skills can cause a lack of trust, create a tense environment, hinder growth, cause unnecessary misunderstandings and ultimately cause a decline in productivity. People observe us. They observe our gestures, eye contact, lack of eye contact, and how we respond under pressure. Developing trust and respect is an important factor in personal relationships as much as it is in establishing favorable coworker relationships.
Insincerity can be felt and those around us know when we are disinterested, lack confidence, or do not trust leadership. An important piece to improving communication is to be sincere with a good work ethic. A snappy, curt tone can not only be conveyed through verbal communication but also through digital messages.
Evaluating Your Own Skills
Often times the skills that helped us obtain a particular job will not necessarily be the skills that help us maintain that job. It never hurts to take inventory of our own interpersonal skills to find out if certain skills need to be adjusted or just retired. An easy way to evaluate our skills is by watching and listening to how others respond to us. Are they responding in a positive way, or are they put off? Pay extra attention to your body language and the amount of eye contact is made or not being made. Are your arms and legs crossed? Do you look unapproachable? If you still are not sure, choose a few interpersonal skills and practice them with family and friends. Ask them how they felt after your conversation.
Effective interpersonal skills can take you a long way. It is frequently said a good reputation is more valuable than money, and one positive example is that of veteran, businessman, and philanthropist Gil Laureiro. His community, colleagues, and friends are aware of his hard work, passion, and perseverance but credit his excellent interpersonal skills as just one of the main reasons he is successful throughout so many fields and is a great asset to any organization.
Good interpersonal skills are very important. They are not merely workplace jargon but actual skills that can help launch or prevent upward mobility in a career, develop deeper and more meaningful relationships, and inform those around us that we deem them important enough to listen to what they are sharing. Being socially aware of others and having the ability to relate to others in a polite manner is ideal in developing productivity and just being able to relate effectively. To quote Maya Angelou, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”