What Are Interpersonal Skills? 5 Ways To Improve Interpersonal Skills

Communication is an essential aspect of life. Learn how you can improve your communication with better interpersonal skills and use them in your job search.

Communication is everywhere. Since we were born, we’ve been communicating, but all those years of practice don’t mean we’ve mastered communication. 

Becoming a good communicator doesn’t have to take a lifetime. It just takes a few simple steps. In this article, you’ll learn what interpersonal skills are, why they are so important, and how you can improve your interpersonal communication skills. Plus, how interpersonal skills can benefit you on the job hunt. 

What are interpersonal skills?

Interpersonal skills, also known as interpersonal communication, is the ability to exchange information between two or more people. Interpersonal communication can be sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings through verbal and nonverbal communication. 

What are the different types of interpersonal communication?

While interpersonal communication has been traditionally face-to-face and in-person, it has also become a digital skill with the rise of hybrid communication.

1. Verbal

Verbal communication is what you probably think of when you hear “communication.” Verbal communication is the main cornerstone of interpersonal skills, whether you say words or use sounds like “uh-huh” or “oh.”

2. Non-verbal

Non-vernal communication includes everything in your conversation that isn’t said during your discussion, including gestures, body language, facial expressions, and more.

Desk with a keyboard, coffee, notebook, and headphones
Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

3. Written

Written communication includes any written correspondence to or from another person. Whether you’re drafting an email, writing comments on social media, or sending a Slack message, you are participating in written communication.

4. Listening

A big part of communication is listening. Ideally, you should be listening for half of a conversation. So, knowing how to actively listen is an essential part of interpersonal communication.

Why do I need to develop interpersonal skills?

Communication is everywhere. Having good communication skills can positively affect many different areas of your life. Teamwork, leadership abilities, problem-solving, trust, personal relationships, conflict management, and career development are just a few examples of areas where good interpersonal communication can benefit you. One of the best examples of the importance of strong communication skills is Steve Jobs.

How do I improve my interpersonal skills?

1. Improve active listening skills.

Communication should be 50% talking and 50% listening, but more often than not, the balance skews. If you find yourself being the person doing most of the talking, it’s probably time to improve your active listening skills.

2. Be thoughtful. 

We have all been guilty of speaking before thinking sometimes. But being thoughtful about your words and considering how others will perceive them is a significant aspect of how others perceive you. 

When you think of interpersonal communication, don’t only think about the information you want to share but also consider who you are sharing it with and what their perspective on that information might be.

3. Be empathetic.

Being empathetic goes hand in hand with being thoughtful, but empathy is much more than being considerate. Empathy requires you to understand the other person’s emotions and connect with them through those feelings. This goes hand-in-hand with emotional intelligence.

4. Show interest.

No one likes when they share something only to be ignored or have the conversation immediately move to another topic. Show interest in the other person and let them know you care what they have to say. Feeling heard is an essential part of relationships.

5. Keep calm. 

Letting anxiety, anger, or other strong emotions over your conversation will often lead to less effective communication. Think about the last time someone yelled at you. Most likely, their words meant less than if they had said the same thing calmly. The best form of communication comes from calm conversations. If you struggle to stay calm, practice breathing techniques when you notice yourself beginning to get more anxious or angry.

Five interpersonal skills that can benefit you on the job

Every job requires some form of interpersonal communication, and being a strong communicator can make it easier to form relationships, create trust and dependability, and lead teams. 

Interpersonal skills are just some of the soft skills that can help you in your career. Make sure you’re also mastering the top 18 soft skills employers look for. 

1. Openness to feedback

There is almost always room for improvement in everything we do, but not everyone is willing to hear constructive criticism. One of the best things you can do to benefit your career is to be open to feedback and willing to learn from it. 

2. Negotiation

We often think of negotiation around salary, which is an important skill to have, but negotiation appears in many other places too. Knowing how to negotiate and find a middle ground can be an essential skill any time you pitch an idea or share a dissenting opinion. 

3. Conflict resolution

In an ideal world, conflict wouldn’t be an issue, but unfortunately, conflict is often unavoidable. By having strong conflict resolution skills, you can become a stronger leader and ensure your team is more effective. Being good at conflict resolution often requires staying calm, listening, empathy, and a solution-oriented mindset. 

smiley face on a road surface
Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

4. Positivity

A necessary yet often overlooked skill is positivity—yes, positivity is a skill, not just an attitude. Being able to see a positive outlook is an essential team motivator and leads to a more forward-focused, creative culture. 

5. Flexibility

Nothing ever goes according to plan, however hard we may try, and knowing how to handle an unexpected situation with ease and grace is what makes a great leader. Being able to stay calm, continue to work towards a problem, and communicate as a team is an indispensable skill. 

Want to learn more about communication, networking, and how you can boost your career? Head to the HiHello blog to see our most recent updates. 

Main photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

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