What Are Interpersonal Skills?
Here’s what interpersonal skills are, why they matter and how you can develop them.
Interpersonal skills are the behaviors people demonstrate when effectively interacting with others. Commonly referred to as “people skills,” these communication tactics can be signaled verbally and non-verbally in both one-on-one and group dynamics. Highly transferable across industries, interpersonal skills are a part of a professional’s soft skill arsenal that build and determine the nature of professional relationships.
1. Get to Know Yourself
To start, it’s important to understand your own natural behaviors when interacting with others. Are you more chatty and extroverted? Or do you struggle with attention, deflecting the conversation while mentally mapping out an escape plan?
Psychologist Leslie Dobson, who specializes in mental health in both individual and group therapy settings, said that this can be done with a simple self-assessment. By asking yourself how assertive you feel you are at work, and the manner in which you assert yourself — aggressively, passively, or passive-aggressively — can be a great exercise in self-awareness.
To put it to the test, try videotaping yourself. This can be in pretend conversations or more naturally, while out with friends, Dobson recommended. Despite an inevitable aspect of ‘cringe’ that comes with this tried-and-true exercise, it offers instant, indisputable feedback from a third-person perspective that provides a better understanding of your own habits.
“In the tech world people tend to be a little more introverted,” Dobson said, noting that, when learning new techniques and trying out different approaches to communication, these individuals may feel like they’re being aggressive.
As you reflect, you may notice that you have a tendency to overshare and could probably pull back on personal anecdotes, or you may find yourself blurring into the background a bit, and could use it as a green flag to increase your level of participation in a group setting.