Our “Top Skill of the Month” is a monthly insight into a key skill that will help you with your personal and business development. Last month we took a deep dive into Multitasking, this month we focus on one of the most important (and difficult) skills to hone:
Whether you realise it or not, every day you use interpersonal skills to communicate and interact with people around you. Someone who has excellent interpersonal skills is much more likely to be successful both on a personal and business level.
This isn’t a new skill you need to learn. Most people have already developed interpersonal skills to varying degrees. It often comes naturally to you, learnt during childhood and developed (mostly subconsciously) during your life.
However, if you focus on developing this skill set on a conscious level, you’ll start to see a positive impact in your business and relationships.
There are many elements that make up and incorporate interpersonal skills:
- Verbal Communication
- Non-Verbal Communication
- Social Awareness
Many of these areas form the foundation of skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, negotiation, decision making, and more. Without these, doing business successfully is near impossible.
HOW TO START DEVELOPING YOUR INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
An easy place to start developing your interpersonal skills is to simply smile. It’s that easy. By smiling you become more welcoming, coworkers will be more inclined to approach you and feel comfortable in your presence.
+ Body language
Consider other nonverbal cues too. Body language is a huge part of communicating. For example, how do you sit when someone is speaking to you? Do you sit forward and look them in the eye, or slouch low in your chair? Start to take note of your body language and make adjustments to correct any negative signals.
+ Listen, actively
Unlike hearing, active listening is the art of understanding, processing, and thinking about what the other person is saying. Next time a co-worker comes to you with a solution or idea use your words to repeat what they have said.
Empathy is also an important element of active listening. Particularly important for leaders to perfect. With empathy, you understand others may have a different point of view, and take this on. A good leader will listen to that other point of view, respect it, and be open to considering it.
+ Praise & Compliment others sincerely
Don’t hold back when it comes to praise. Rather than keeping your appreciation to yourself, let others know when they have done a good job, no matter how small. This is not just for managers. Coworkers should also share their appreciation with each other. By doing this, you’ll encourage them to continue giving their best work and foster a positive working environment.
+ Put yourself in someone else’s shoes
Finally, the best way to improve your interpersonal skills is to ‘put yourself in their shoes.' Imagine how you would like to be treated if you were that other person. If you met yourself would you feel relaxed and comfortable? What may seem like the obvious answer to you could have entirely different implications when seen from the other perspective.
While interpersonal skills are to some extent innate in you, those looking to up skills, boost their careers, or better their personal and professional relationships should take steps to improving this skill. It is sure to make you an invaluable asset in any organisation.