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Let us start with this simple question: have you ever wondered why your favourite bosses or colleagues stand out so much in your mind? What makes them so wonderful to work with? Do you enjoy the easy process of working on the same team? Do they communicate clearly in person or in email? How collaborative are they?

In a nutshell, it boils down to interpersonal skills. Research holds that interpersonal skills can push career growth forward or backward. If you find yourself in the latter, you can improve your interpersonal skills with the right knowledge, technique and practice.

 What do we mean by interpersonal skills?

It is an old song amongst the list of soft skills needed to thrive in any career path. The word ‘interpersonal’ on its own simply refers to anything involving interactions between people.

Fundamentally, interpersonal skills are what we would call a ‘social skill set’ that allows you to have healthy and meaningful relationships.


From a business perspective, interpersonal skills are behaviors that allow you work well with others – such as bosses, colleagues, customers or anyone else you come into contact with.


  What is/are embedded in interpersonal skills?

To build strong interpersonal skills, there are other soft skills referred to as essential building blocks of interpersonal skills because they serve as co-factors (as they do not work alone). They include but are not limited to:

1. Communication Skills

Communication is one of the most underestimated skills. Most small conflicts and arguments start as a result of either miscommunication, total lack of communication or some other communication hitch. On the other hand, effective communication – verbal and written can help bridge communication gaps wherever and with whomever.


2. Emotional intelligence and empathy skills

Emotional intelligence is seeing vulnerability in ourselves and learning to work with it and seeing the vulnerability in others with compassion. The backbone of your interpersonal skills is your emotional intelligence. You should be able to read people and empathize with them – put yourself in other people’s shoes.


3. Listening skills

Listening skill is a highly valued and sought after soft skill. Listening is the ability to pay attention to and effectively interpret what other people are saying. You need to make people feel they are heard, supported and valued when you are communicating with them. Be present, pay attention, apply or direct yourself and open minded.


4. Persuasion and influence skills

Persuasion and influence are both leadership skills however; persuasion is not the same as influence. Persuasion is convincing someone to do what you want them to do. On the other hand, influence is part of your identity; it is your presence – a part of who you are. Persuasion is a very important part of influence. It is ultimately all about result, otherwise known as getting your audience to do what you want them to do.


5. Patience skills

Patience is also a skill and is crucial to succeeding in any field. If you are patient, you will be able to tolerate, delay and plan. You can manage your emotions and keep yourself from getting angry or upset. This quality allows you to cope with difficult people when associating or socializing with them.

Others are: conflict management and resolution, leadership, flexibility, motivation, positivity, and many more.


Why are interpersonal skills so important for your career?

It does not matter where you work or what your job is, your interpersonal skills will have an impact on the way your career progresses. If you have strong interpersonal skills:

  • ·         you are likely to be promoted or recommended for opportunities
  • ·         your team will function better together and you will accomplish more
  • ·         people will love and enjoy relating, socializing and working with you

The list goes on and on. One important fact you need to note is that it will take you far in your career and you rack up accomplishments.

Need help on how you can improve your interpersonal skills?

Fortunately, nothing is unachievable once you put your mind on it – that is, being intentional. Here are some tips to get you started right away:

1.      Take a Class: there are experts who can help you hone interpersonal skills

2.      Ask for Feedback: this helps you know how others feel when interacting with them

3.      Actively listen to others and ask questions

4.      Do not be quick to conclude; spend more time putting yourself in the shoes of others

5.      Show humility when approaching a conversation but be confident

6.      Learn and demonstrate. People with strong interpersonal skills in your professional network can be of great help in learning. Always practice what you learn.

No matter what you do for a living, interacting with people is an everyday thing. Therefore, strive to be better by having a good interpersonal relationship as it is crucial to your success.

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