Working in harmony with other people can be quite challenging at times. Perhaps you find they rub you up the wrong way on a daily basis, seem argumentative, unwilling to compromise and generally difficult to get along with.
While the problem may lie with the other person or people, more often than not, it can be a good idea to look at ourselves and see if we can make any improvements in our interpersonal skills. Improving the way we interact with the people we work with can boost our career success.
We Always Talk about Interpersonal Skills, But What Exactly Are They?
Getting ahead in our career is important and interpersonal skills can be broken down into different areas and skill sets. By tackling these skill sets individually, you can create a well-rounded approach to dealing with others in order to get ahead. These areas include:
Team Working Skills
Negotiation and Persuasion Skills
Conflict Resolution Skills
Communication Skills — Speaking Is Only a Way, Not the Only Way
Active Listening: This can be an overlooked skill when we are too focused on what we want to say and how we want to get it across. But active listening is a good way of securing respect, showing concern, understanding and interest.
Ways in which you can demonstrate active listening1 can be: paraphrasing to show understanding, asking open-ended questions, asking questions in order to clarify, eye contact, nodding while listening and expressing brief expressions such as “I see”, “sure”, or “I know” while the other person is talking.
Word Choice: The words you use2 can be incredibly important and choosing them wisely can allow others to understand you much better and create less confusion.
It can be helpful to practice speaking to others, thinking about how you are conveying your message. Ask for feedback to see if you could have expressed your points more clearly in order to highlight areas in which you could improve.
Non-Verbal Communication: It’s not always about the words we speak. How we come across with our body language3 can have a massive influence on how we are perceived by others. It can give you away if your body language doesn’t match what you are saying.
Smiling, eye contact, posture, tone of voice, observing others’ reactions to your statements and leaning in to indicate interest are all ways in which you can convey positive communication. By being conscious of your non-verbal communication, you can come across more friendly, trustworthy and approachable.
Humor: Injecting a touch of humor can make you much more relatable and make people more comfortable in your presence. Reacting positively with laughter or seeing the lighter side of a conversation can allow the conversation to flow more easily. Make sure that you’re not inappropriate or offensive.
Team Working Skills — Make Yourself Pleasant to Work with
Flexibility: Understanding differences of opinion with others and making appropriate adjustments is a core skill to develop. Seeing different perspectives can expand your thinking and make others feel respected.
Responsibility: Take responsibility for your role in any team work. It can be easy to push responsibility onto others or blame others for how things progress negatively. Understanding your responsibility and role in a team effort before taking part is crucial to effective communication and positive progression.
Stress Control: People react to stressful situations in different ways but learning to deal with stress in a contained way can help you when you face stress in the workplace. Consider mindfulness and meditation techniques that can be used when stressful situations crop up.
Ability To Receive Feedback: React positively to any feedback even if it’s negative. Adopt the mindset that it’s an opportunity to improve yourself rather than a reason to put yourself down.
Positivity: People are more likely to be drawn and react better to positive people. In other words, positivity attracts positivity and the same applies to negativity. This is why remaining cheerful and keeping a positive attitude not only helps with others but also with our self-confidence.
Negotiation And Persuasion Skills — Never Create Any Loser
Look For Win-Win Situations: When negotiating, focus on maintaining a good relationship. In other words, make sure you separate the people from the problem. Make sure you create a variety of options for both parties before deciding on the outcome. This way, you can limit disagreements and hostility.
Compromise: Don’t head into anything with the intention of getting your way. Be ready to compromise and see other people’s perspectives. This way you are much more likely to be respected and have things go in your favour.
Assertion: Developing good assertion skills4 means being able to stand up for yourself in a positive and calm way. Get your point across in a non-hostile way that doesn’t lead to others getting upset. Developing this skill will gain respect and will show that you’re not a pushover.
Conflict Resolution Skills — Spot Tensions Before They Turn into Conflicts
Empathy: It’s easy to get very caught up in climbing the career ladder thinking that we need to look out for number one. But being empathetic towards others is a key skill in gaining trust and respect among your colleagues. Understand the different perspective of others and don’t make assumptions or dismiss how they see things. It can help you see problems in a different way and allow you to apply this to many situations.
Social Awareness: Having a degree of sensitivity towards potential conflicts can allow you to identify and fix them before it’s too late. This can save you a lot of time and effort, streamlining the path to your ultimate career goal.
Taking into account each different area of communication can greatly improve your interpersonal skills, develop good working relationships and get you much further in your career. Building trust and respect with others should never be dismissed or considered unnecessary because hard work and the ability to get on with everyone in a variety of situations is the key to success.