The new economy, globalization, and the changing demographic landscape of the US and the rest of the developed world, which is rapidly aging and less diverse, are factors that will only continue to strengthen the need for people with interpersonal skills to succeed.
Interpersonal skills and people’s perception of it have been trending down in recent years, but thankfully they can still be learned.
If you want to improve your interpersonal skills, it will take a combination of building up the muscles in your social skills, learning how to effectively conduct meetings, and learning how to build strong relationships with others, regardless of what job you do.
I’ve long believed that a leader’s greatest strength can be his or her greatest weakness: the charismatic leader may not be particularly good at making decisions or working well with others.
The likable leader may not be a skilled communicator or a good team builder.
The charismatic leader may not always work effectively with coworkers or come off as warm, engaging, or caring.
Yet leaders must be able to bridge the gap between their personalities and that of the rest of their teams.
Some key people skills can be developed in an individual’s personality and used to make these interactions more successful for the individual and the team.
Some skills are more obvious than others and require much more work, but they can be mastered.
Learn how to listen
Interpersonal skills are often seen as self-absorbed, but they are actually about listening to others. And in the workplace, listening isn’t something that’s just something you do with people you like.
In fact, unless you listen to the needs of your teammates or business partners, you could end up losing them to other companies.
It can be tempting to just quickly reply to the message you just got, especially when it’s something you want to quickly get off your plate.
However, before you hit reply, stop and listen to what your coworker or business partner just said.
This will help you gain some context and more quickly respond to their issue. If it’s important enough, you can even work with them to resolve the issue.
The key is learning how to effectively listen. Of course, if the issue is important enough, you should be able to respond, but it’s better to be thorough in the beginning.
1. Be genuine
Becoming authentically genuine to others requires effort on both sides.
Take the time to know who you are and don’t try to fool people into thinking you’re different than who you really are.
Showing up as someone who knows how to relate to others is essential for effective leadership.
2. Be trustworthy
This often sounds like a no-brainer, but not many people consider how they can be trusted.
This is not just about being trustworthy with others, but also being trustworthy with yourself and being trustworthy with your employer.
It may be easier to be trustworthy in one area than another, but consistency is important.
Make it a point to be trustworthy in all areas and see where that gets you.
3. Be vulnerable
Vulnerability can be difficult because people are often afraid to share their true selves.
However, by being honest about our vulnerabilities, we gain the respect of others and build relationships.
Be real with others and be willing to show both your strengths and weaknesses.
4. Be open to learning new things
Successful people learn new things and bring this knowledge to their professional life.
The ability to learn quickly and improve upon yourself will help you stay ahead of the curve in your career.
Be curious and interested in different points of view. This also goes for seeking new ways to connect with others.
Never be afraid to be new or try something new.
5. Be authentic
This is true for everyone, but it is especially important for leaders.
In my experience, there is a lot of deceit in leaders and those who serve as leaders.
Everyone wants to think that what is being presented to them is the real deal and that it’s true to their character.
If you’re struggling to be authentic to others, be sure that it’s not just to impress others but also because it’s true to who you are.
6. Be a good listener
Whether you’re talking to a coworker or someone you’re working with, listening actively to what they have to say is key to a successful relationship.
People do not give what they do not know. Take time to learn what makes others tick.
7. Be non-judgmental
Having the presence of the “boss” when someone is in your personal space can be a powerful tool in shaping their thinking and ultimately how they approach leadership.
While you’re not going to change other people, you can do your best to be understanding of others.
There’s more than one way to get things done.
8. Be willing to make mistakes
As leaders, we need to learn to accept responsibility for our actions, just as we expect our followers to do.
While it may be tempting to assume that a problem is someone else’s responsibility, failures are lessons in humility.
If someone has a problem, admit it and figure out how to fix it.
9. Be humble
This is a little tougher. People love to be told how great they are, and being humble is hard.
However, the importance of humility in being an effective leader cannot be overlooked.
Honesty, humility, respect, and hard work are great recipes for success.
It is easy to fall into a standard of success, but you’ll be glad you didn’t if you don’t keep learning.