Interpersonal skills are skills that we regularly use to communicate with other people. We are not born with them, but we develop them as we develop. From the early days, parents teach us good demeanor and polite communication. We learn from an early age how to behave in society, interacting with our friends on the playgrounds, at school, and then at our workplaces. All this experience, parents and our environment – shape who we are.
Top reasons to develop interpersonal skills
If you look back and remember the various conflict situations that have arisen with you. Then you will remember that this was usually due to your inability to listen, or due to a lack of communication skills. And if you look at your circle of friends, family members or colleagues, you can easily identify people with well-developed interpersonal skills. People with these skills tend to be confident people. And through confident communication, they are good at building both personal and work relationships. People with advanced interpersonal skills are more successful in many aspects of life because they have a desire to learn and gain new knowledge.
Now is the time to take an honest look at how you interact with other people. How good are you at listening? How strong is your desire to understand your interlocutor? By focusing on interpersonal communication skills, you will be able to communicate better with people and become a better listener. You will understand that you need to learn how to manage your thoughts and think before you speak. You may need to learn how to negotiate to get a job promotion and achieve the results you want.
Think about all of your past interactions with people and identify areas that need improvement. All interpersonal skills can be developed and improved. Listed below are some of the most common skills, as well as practical tips to get you started in the right direction.
Ways to Develop Interpersonal Skills
1. Ability to listen
Listening attentively means not only hearing the interlocutor, but also maintaining a conversation with him. Each of us wants to be heard, so it is important that you listen to what the person is saying and treat them with respect. Effective communication lies in the words we use, our tone of voice, and non-verbal cues such as body language. Yes, you need to listen to the words that the person says, but very often it is the non-verbal parts of the message that are more important for understanding the interlocutor.
To truly be open to listening, you need to focus on the person and what they are saying. You need to shut up and listen. Don’t just nod your head, but really listen. Focus on the other person and pay attention to what they are saying. And don’t start talking until the person has expressed their thoughts. Pay attention to the tone he is using, as well as the non-verbal parts of the communication, such as hand placement and facial expressions.
2. Choose your words carefully
Be as clear and specific as possible in your expressions. Think about what you want to say, and don’t just “dump” the first thing that comes to mind. Avoid slang, racist, or sexist terms that might offend the other person. And don’t forget to consider cultural norms. Focus on what you really want to say. Speak clearly and purposefully. Give the other person an opportunity to voice their opinion, ask questions, and seek clarification. And remember that only practicing your word-craft will help you avoid misunderstandings.
Practice clarity in your written messages as well. Without visual cues and tone of voice, written communication can seem awkward and can lead to misunderstandings and resentment. Therefore, you should not focus on written communication. Even a quick phone call can help clear up potential misunderstandings. Although the phone does not allow for verbal cues such as body language. But it does at least add a tone of voice.
3. Relax and breathe deeply
When dealing with people we don’t know much, we tend to get nervous, feel awkward, and speak faster. Our tone of voice also changes because the muscles in our face, throat and jaw are tense. Tension can also manifest itself through non-verbal communication, so try to keep your arms down and don’t cross them. Try to smile, take a deep breath in and out, nod your head, and maintain eye contact with the person. Try not to be nervous and not worry, nothing bad will happen to you.
4. Seek clarification
In order to develop your interpersonal skills, you should feel free to ask for clarification. Even if you have really honed listening skills, only the speaker is the only person who can confirm how well you understood him. What do you need to do in this situation? This is to ask clarifying questions. Don’t just rephrase what was said, but ask questions to clarify. Just think how many misunderstandings we can avoid if we develop this skill in ourselves.
5. Practice and improvement
Interpersonal skills take practice. Therefore, reflect on your previous conversations and interactions with people. Become a keen observer of your own behavior. Learn from good and bad interactions. Think about what you said or did wrong? What else do you need to work on? Focus on what is needed to build and maintain a healthy relationship. Practice respect for the person you are talking to, and give people the attention you want them to give you. Help your conversation partner feel significant and show that you are truly interested in him. You will be amazed at the results you achieve in your relationship, be it at work, at home, or in a situation you are unfamiliar with.
How to develop negotiation skills
Be sure to maintain mutual respect. Always approach any negotiation with mutual benefit. Make sure the other person has a good understanding of what they can gain from communicating with you, and of course, do not forget about your own benefits. Try to be more open and listen rather than talk. If something good has been done for you, show gratitude and reciprocate. Don’t be passive or aggressive, but you can be a little assertive. Write down all the key points of your conversation. Pay attention to the body language signals of the other person. And of course, prepare in advance for your negotiations. Write down everything you need to say so that during the conversation you are confident in yourself and your negotiations will end successfully.