How healthy are the relationships in your life right now? Are you happy with them, satisfied, indifferent, or just don't see the pertinence of the question? How do you feel about the idea of interpersonal skills? Do you put much stock into developing your own social skills? If I could peek into your life for just a day and observe how you relate to other people and tell whether or not you have good interpersonal skills, I could tell you just how successful you will be in reaching your goals.
I don't need to know about your education. I don't need to know about your professional experience. I just need to see how you interact with others to literally see your future: your interpersonal relationships, your soft skills, your people skills. Imagine, your work success and trajectory all determined by your ability to execute the interpersonal skills necessary to build relationships; relationships that build the platform you stand on. You can either build upon that platform, or simply watch this foundation crack beneath your feet.
What exactly are interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills are how you show up in the world and how others perceive your authenticity. Are you for real? That is what everyone is wondering and you need to show them that you are. Below, we describe the four key skills needed to master interpersonal relationships.
Communication: The ability to communicate effectively with others.
Communicators have good verbal and non-verbal skills with their team members. This means being able to succinctly verbalize your true intent, and more importantly, active listening. You need to ask questions for understanding and then demonstrate your understanding, in order for the speaker to know you are truly hearing them. This is where trust is built.
Teamwork: The ability to let others shine.
Teamwork is not about somebody taking the ball and running with it, which is often rampant in corporate offices worldwide. Teamwork is about being open to feedback, expressing openness through your actions and body language. This is where your collaborative nature is communicated.
Emotional Intelligence: Knowing when to "hold them" and when to "fold them."
Your ability to intelligently determine what is called for in varying situations is crucial in portraying both your agility and ability to manage not only yourself, but others as well. Unemotionally responding as opposed to emotionally reacting separates the kids from the adults. This is where your leadership potential is recognized.
Workplace Etiquette: Your opportunity to model values and ethics.
Etiquette can include your genuine positive attitude, willingness to help others and your self-confidence. It can also be showing appreciation for the slightest of gestures. Properly executed, good manners help breed respect. Insincerity in any one of these areas will breed contempt. This is how you win friends and influence people.
You can have an educational degree in any discipline and years of experience, but if you are lacking in interpersonal skills, prepare yourself for mediocrity. Without these skills, all of your relationships will suffer, and without your ability to relate to others, so will you.
Interpersonal communication is effective communication; it's key for healthy workplaces. Employees with soft skills, social skills and people skills can build interpersonal relationships with their team members and better interact as both verbal and non-verbal communicators.
Through the use of interpersonal skills you can make your relationships more meaningful. You can also increase or decrease the quality of your relationships. The choice is yours, but remember, once you've left a bad taste in anyone's mouth, no mouthwash is going to save you, and what's worse is that they will tell all their friends. Word of mouth really can be lethal, so do all you can to strengthen your interpersonal skills, your career depends on it. Good interpersonal skills set themselves apart from candidates with poor interpersonal skills.
Heidi Crux is the author of Public Speaking Simplified and Demystified. Communication Basics to Create Lasting Impressions. Heidi is a graduate of Dale Carnegie Training with over 25 years of experience both in and out of the boardroom teaching communication basics and management principles at the university level. As a trainer and coach Heidi conducts seminars and workshops upon request as well as public speaking engagements.