10 Ways To Improve Interpersonal Skills
Do you know how to draw out that super-shy colleague you’re partnering with on a project? Or how to remove the sting from your words when you’re annoyed with a colleague? Or how to show a co-worker who’s going through a stressful time that you’re there for support?If you’ve answered, “Yes” to all of these questions, then congratulations: you’re a real people person with great social skills. If, however, you’ve answered, “No” to one or more of them, then like most, you could benefit from the following nine tips for improving your interpersonal skills.
Identify areas for improvement
The first step towards improving is to develop your knowledge of yourself and your weaknesses.You may already have a good idea of areas that you need to develop. However, it is worth seeking feedback from other people, because it is easy to develop ‘blind spots’ about yourself. You might also find it useful to do our Interpersonal Skills quiz.
Put on a happy face
People who are the life of the party usually have one thing in common: They’re happy. If you smile often and have an upbeat attitude, your coworkers will be drawn to you. And when you’re having a bad day, don’t try to pull others down with you. You may find that people pass you by in favor of those with a more cheerful outlook.
Be aware of what is happening with your co-workers. Take note of birthdays and happy events in their life. Be sure to congratulate them. Also remember to show compassion and empathy when a colleague is going through a difficult time. Simple gestures show that you are concerned and you care about the people around you.
Recognize cultural norms.
While welcoming body language might work in some cultures, it may not work in others. Good nonverbal communication skills come from knowing cultural rules related to emotional expressions. For example, in Finnish culture, making eye contact is considered a sign of being approachable, while in Japanese culture, eye contact is a sign of anger.
From a global perspective, if you are native to a particular culture, many of the nonverbal norms will be instinctive. If you find yourself communicating in a culture that is not your own, keenly watch others for typical nonverbal behavior.
Let coworkers know when you appreciate them.
It feels great when you know those you work hard with or for appreciate your efforts. Rather than keeping your appreciation to yourself, let others know when they do a good job. When people know they are appreciated, they are motivated to keep up the good work.
Practice active listening.
You can do this by maintaining eye contact with the speaker, nodding your head, and repeating what he says in your own words. The speaker will feel respected, and you’re likely to be able to recall the conversation more easily afterwards.
Be Confident of Your Ideas
You should always be confident of what you are speaking and should take ownership of your words. This is will increase the trust that the other people have in you and make the conversation flow more freely.
You know how to bring people together, and now it’s time to become the person they can turn to when disputes arise. When colleagues disagree, it can bring the mood of the whole office down, but you can improve the situation by taking on the role of moderator. Arrange to have a discussion with both of the aggrieved parties, and try to help them resolve their conflict. Not only will your office be a happier place, but you’ll come to be known as a leader.
Put yourself in the shoes of others
It is easier to connect with people if you understand them better. There may be a reason why your graphic designer or operations manager always looks so gloomy. Take time to talk to them and try seeing things from their perspective.
Know what makes good communication.
Generally, there are five principles that show effective communication: informativeness, relevance, truthfulness, politeness, and modesty. There’s an assumption among people that when you talk, your speech will:
contribute information that others did not know
- be relevant and of interest to everyone involved
- be truthful (unless you’re using sarcasm and irony)
- follow social expectations about being polite, like using “please” and “thank you”
- avoid bragging or being self-centered
One of the most effective ways to improve your interpersonal skills is to imagine how you would like to be treated by others. Take a look at the list of skills I listed at the top of this article and imagine how you would like to be treated in regard to this.
Interpersonal skills are not just important at the workplace, in school, and in life. They are critical regardless of what level you are on in the social or workplace hierarchy.