group of coworkers gathered around a table

What are interpersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills refer to interactions between people, especially those related to positive engagement with others, successful teamwork, and the ability to integrate into an organization. People’s interpersonal skills improve when they have more opportunities to practice interacting with others.

In the end, your interpersonal abilities may be the factor that separates you from others who have a similar level of technical proficiency. Using interpersonal skills, you can cooperate, get support, and bring out the best in your team members. It typically takes a person with excellent interpersonal skills to create a cohesive team. Without them, it’s doubtful that you will advance into roles with greater levels of responsibility.

1. Leadership

At its core, leadership is the ability to inspire a group of individuals to act in pursuit of a common objective. In a professional context, this may entail leading coworkers and employees through a plan to serve the organization’s needs.

If you’re a manager, supervisor, or group leader, you may oversee a team or individual contributors who turn to you for guidance. You’ll be a better leader if you have more leadership traits, and even if you aren’t a manager, it’s crucial to have some experience with and aptitude for leadership. The ability to inspire and uplift people is a prerequisite for effective leadership and for successful interpersonal relationships of all kinds.

How to improve: Take leadership courses or observe other well-respected leaders in the workplace and try to apply their attitudes and behaviors when you’re working with others.

2. Active Listening

The ability to listen goes hand in hand with effective communication. You need to be able to communicate your views, but you also need to listen carefully to what others have to say. If you work to develop your listening skills, your customers, employers, coworkers, and staff are more likely to feel respected, appreciated, and understood.

Active listening is paying close attention, asking clarifying questions to ensure comprehension, and refraining from judgment or interruptions.

How to improve: The next time you speak with a coworker, practice paraphrasing, asking follow-up questions, and staying on topic.

3. Communication

communication in the office

Communication is a crucial interpersonal skill for every career. Regardless of your chosen field—IT, customer service, construction, etc.—you will need to communicate with others both orally and in writing. Some occupations also call for proficiency in public speaking.

Verbal and Written Communication

Being able to communicate effectively and professionally is an important success factor in any job. Your coworkers shouldn’t have to guess at your meaning or pore over your email, video chat, or presentation to understand what you’re trying to say.

How to improve: Every time you make a written or spoken request, practice formulating responses to potential follow-up inquiries in your mind. For instance, when requesting someone’s availability for a call at 10:00 am, immediately follow with a statement like, “If that time isn’t convenient, how about…”

Non-Verbal Communication

Eye contact, body movements and posture, facial gestures, and physical proximity are all examples of non-verbal communication. Even though you are silent, others may read your nonverbal cues and judge your confidence, respect, and understanding.

How to improve:

  • Try to maintain appropriate eye contact while speaking.
  • Seek out the meaning of others’ nonverbal cues.
  • Utilize the appropriate hand gestures to convey your views.

4. Teamwork

Generally, teamwork refers to group cooperation meant to accomplish a common goal. For instance, “they are excellent team players” is a phrase that is frequently used to describe individuals who are motivated by the team’s success and have the group’s best interests in mind.

These days, there aren’t many occupations that allow you to work entirely autonomously. Therefore, enhancing your leadership skills, teamwork, and flexibility will serve your interests both on and off the job.

How to improve:

  • Ask for regular feedback.
  • Volunteer for work-related and extracurricular initiatives.
  • Go above and beyond to assist coworkers with tasks.

5. Emotional Intelligence

One of the most important leadership qualities in the workplace is emotional intelligence, a competency that enables people to comprehend and control their own emotions and read and understand the emotions of their teammates.

The workplace can be turbulent—full of stress, pressure, anxiety, and perhaps even drama. But it can also be a source of joy, fulfillment, and enthusiasm. Each of these factors can influence how someone feels at a given moment; how well they can appropriately express those emotions reveals their emotional intelligence.

How to improve:

  • Develop stress-reduction strategies.
  • Refrain from reacting hastily to difficult situations.
  • Consider what drives your teammates to do a good job.

6. Empathy

empathic leadership

Understanding others’ perspectives and demonstrating empathy for them are key components of an effective boss, employee, or teammate. For instance, if a client or coworker calls to voice a problem, you must pay careful attention to what they have to say and show empathy for their feelings and situation. It’s challenging to gain the trust of your teammates or customers if you lack empathy. Empathy is a close relative of emotional intelligence.

Everyone desires to believe that their ideas and feelings are valued. Because of this, great leaders must possess a variety of talents and interpersonal skills, including empathy.

How to improve:

  • Create an environment of psychological safety in the workplace.
  • Promote open discussion among team members.
  • Become aware of any prejudices or unconscious biases you and others may have.
  • Consider a project’s requirements from the perspective of the project’s owner.

7. Reliability

Being dependable involves completing duties on schedule and at a high standard every time. A trustworthy person will often exhibit traits such as doing what they say they will do, admitting when they made a mistake, leading others through challenges, behaving ethically, fulfilling commitments, and adhering to quality requirements.

Your teammates want to know they can rely on you to seek clarification when necessary, complete tasks with a high level of quality, and meet critical deadlines. Without these basic components in place, building the trust necessary for everyone to offer their best effort is challenging.

How to improve:

  • Give regular updates on your work.
  • Follow up anytime you’re unclear.
  • Give early notice if you anticipate missing a deadline for any reason.

8. Negotiation

Many occupations require the ability to negotiate. Depending on the position, this may entail drafting formal agreements (or contracts) between customers or assisting coworkers in identifying a problem and a solution.

To be an effective negotiator, you need to be able to listen to others, come up with original solutions to problems, and reach a consensus. Not only is negotiation crucial when seeking things like a salary or promotion, it’s also necessary for routine tasks like submitting requests, setting up appointments, and asking your coworkers for assistance.

How to improve: When making requests, be prepared for follow-up questions, try to understand why someone might refuse your request, and search for ways to make concessions as needed.

9. Problem Solving

The process of finding a solution to a particular issue or dispute is known as problem-solving. Using a problem-solving process to resolve an issue is a great technique because it allows you to explore a number of potential options.

For example, a flathead screwdriver can remove a Phillips-head screw, but a better tool may be available. Like employing the appropriate tools, using a problem-solving process helps you identify the best way to address the demands of a particular circumstance.

How to improve:

  • Come up with creative solutions for quick jobs.
  • Don’t assume that the most obvious answer is the best one.
  • Offer to help with work and extracurricular activities.
  • Check your assumptions.
  • Solicit regular feedback.

10. Conflict Management

Workplace conflicts are disagreements between two parties at work. These disagreements happen when two parties or individuals have divergent requirements, interests, or viewpoints. Successfully managing conflict at work as an employer helps to maintain a positive professional atmosphere for everybody.

You must promptly resolve workplace issues to foster a harmonious team atmosphere; this boosts output and fosters a friendly, cooperative environment where your business can flourish. When cooperation and respect is the norm, the likelihood for destructive team conflict is lessened.

How to improve: To find a solution, you’ll need to be able to listen to all sides fairly and apply creative problem-solving; this would mean improving your listening skills as well.

Final Comments

No one wants to employ people who have technical proficiency but no soft skills. In fact, some of the most useful and transferable skills fall into the interpersonal realm. Working to develop the skills highlighted above will make you a great employee at your current job and a strong candidate for future positions.

Guest Author

Zara Dumayas

Zara is the partnership manager for Invicta, and she develops business-to-business connections to enhance their overall brand performance online. As a partnership manager, she understands the importance of having strong interpersonal skills when dealing with different clients. Problem solving and communication are often the common skills necessary in digital marketing, especially with the changing dynamics of the search engine.

Recommended For You:

Professional Development Programs for Employees

Learn More
About the Author
Guest Author
This post was submitted by a CMOE Guest Author. CMOE guest authors are carefully selected industry experts, researchers, writers, and editors with an extensive experience and a deep passion for leadership development, human capital performance, and other specialty areas. Each guest author is uniquely selected for the topic or skills areas that they are focused on. All posts are peer reviewed by CMOE.

Get Exclusive Content Delivered Straight to Your Inbox

When you subscribe to our blog and become a CMOE Insider.

And the best part?

It's 100% free.