What are the types of human skills that make people good with others? They're people skills. People skills refer to the traits that allow you to empathize, connect, relate and communicate well with others.
While many people can go to school and receive on-the-job training to learn hard skills, you can only develop people skills through experiences interacting with, well, people. The more time you spend interacting with others, particularly in the workplace, the more adept you'll become at working well with people.
Why are people skills important?
People skills are hugely important, and they're increasingly in demand. A recent report from ManpowerGroup — a survey of 2,000 U.S. employers — found that 61% of American companies actually rate "soft" abilities such as communication, collaboration and problem-solving as the most coveted skills they want in prospective new-hires.
"Strong people skills are a must for a variety of reasons and in a variety of contexts," Anne Glusker, Forbes contributor on leaderships strategy, writes. "If you’re in sales, you have to put yourself in your customer’s position, to understand what he or she needs (to empathize) in order to complete the sale. If you’re trying to negotiate a deal, you must be patient and calm (emotionally regulated) so that you can close the deal. If you’re trying to raise your first funding round, you have to articulate your mission and its potential (communication) in order to get the capital you need. And if you’re trying to make a crucial hire, you absolutely have to hear the person you want (listening) so that your offer will be accepted."
It's easy to see why people skills are important, but it's not so easy to obtain them. Developing people skills takes practice.
"Since soft skills are not usually taught in business schools or undergraduate programs, they are qualities that you have to burnish on your own, preferably in the early stages of your career," Glusker writes.
Fortunately, it is possible to work on these skills at any stage of your career — whether you're new to the working world or you're well into your career.
What are good people skills?
You might find yourself wondering, what are examples of skills? Or what are some examples of interpersonal skills, in particular? There are tons of people skills you can develop, but here are 15 of the most important people skills you need to be successful in any career.
1. The ability to communicate effectively with others
Being able to communicate effectively with others is an important people skill that you need in any workplace across any industry. You need to be able to express yourself both verbally and via emails and other messaging platforms, such as Slack. Learn more about how to communicate well with others here.
2. The ability to establish rapport with others
Establishing rapport with others off the bat is a coveted people skill that not everyone has. While many people take some warming up to, if you're the kind of person who can immediately make others feel comfortable in your presence, your skill is an asset to organizations.
3. The ability to gain the trust of others
Gaining the trust of others is important, especially if you're in a leadership position or wanting to advance into a leadership position at some point in your career. In order to lead others or even earn bigger and more important responsibilities at work, your colleagues and managers need to trust you, your ideas and your commitment.
4. The ability to empathize with others
Empathizing with others means being able to put yourself in their shoes. Empathy is an ideal people skill to have because, with empathy, you're able to see conflicts from different perspectives, communicate with others on their page and understand complex situations through others' lenses.
5. The ability to have patience with others
Patience is an important people skill to have, but not many people have it. Being able to be patient with others is not only appreciated, but it also helps you to stay calm, cool and collected in all sorts of situations that require a level head.
6. The ability to listen actively
Part of communicating effectively means being able to listen well, too. While many people can talk and express themselves, it's a lot harder to stop and actively listen to your conversation partner. This means being mindful of their present state and listening not just for what they have to say verbally, but also for their physical body language cues. Learn more about how to practice active listening here.
7. The ability to trust others
While gaining the trust of others is important, you also need to be able to trust others yourself. Only when you can trust others can you delegate tasks and assign work out to others so that you don't burn yourself out trying to take everything on yourself.
8. The ability to persuade others
A good leader is someone who can get others on board with their ideas and run with those ideas. If you can persuade others, that's a people skill companies want.
9. The ability to inspire and motivate others
The ability to inspire and motivate others keeps spirits high. Every company culture that thrives does so because of the people who inspire and motivate others. But, if you need a little help motivating yourself, you can learn some self-motivation techniques here.
10. The ability to negotiate with others
Negotiation is certainly a hard skill that can be learned. But it's also a people skill that's just innate for certain people. If you have a natural tendency to negotiate well with others, that's a skill that many industries, like sales, for example, need. Negotiating well means that you're persuasive and convincing, which is a sign of leadership.
Negotiation is also a skill that can help you earn more and grow in your career, however. If you can negotiate well with the people above you, you can work your way up the workplace ladder. Learn more about negotiation tips here.
11. The ability to read the room
Being able to read the room is massively important. If you're giving a presentation at work, for example, you need to know how to speak to your specific audience. Being able to feel out the vibe of a space or group of people can help you to communicate more effectively.
12. The ability to read body language
Being able to communicate with others is, again, more than just being able to talk. And it's also more than being able to listen. You also need to understand body language, which is a huge way that people express themselves. Learn more about how to read body language here.
13. The ability to lead others
Leadership skills can be learned, even if you're not in a leadership position. Being able to lead others simply means being able to inspire, motivate, persuade, uplift, revive and gain the trust of others around you.
14. The ability to support others
A people's person is someone who knows how to support others. They also understand that no two people are the same, and they can learn how to uniquely support those in need.
15. The ability to accept help from others
Like a people's person can support others, they can also accept the support of others. No organization wants to hire or work with a burned-out employee. Being able to shamelessly accept help when you know you need it isn't easy, but it's important. Learn more about asking for help without seeming incompetent here.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.