Interpersonal skills are the skills that a person uses to interact with other people. Interpersonal skills are sometimes also referred to as people skills or communication skills. Interpersonal skills involve using skills such as active listening and tone of voice, they include delegation and leadership. It is how
The term “interpersonal skills” is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person’s ability to operate within business organizations through social communication and interactions. Interpersonal skills are how people relate to one another. Interpersonal skills are all the behaviors and feelings that exist within all of us that influence our interactions with others. Whether we are shy or bold, quiet or passive, domineering or cooperative are all different examples of characteristics of interpersonal skills.
How do we develop our interpersonal skills? We don’t really… at least not consciously. These skills are learned from watching our parents, the television and our peers. Children imitate in an attempt to learn. Most of what we believe to be true about ourselves and the world around us, we do not stop and examine. It is only when problems arise that we are given a glimpse into our interpersonal skills and the potential for change that exists.
TYPES OF INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
Dealing with Aggression
To be assertive is to understand that everyone has basic human rights that should be respected and upheld. Responding passively allows such rights to be neglected or ignored. In contrast, when behaving aggressively, the rights of others are abused. An individual’s assertive rights will include the following: The right to feelings, opinions and values.
The right to express what I want or how I feel.
The right to change my mind.
The right to say “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand.” The right to say “no” without feeling bad or guilty.
The right to be non-assertive.
The right to be myself.
The right to privacy, to be alone and independent.
Dealing with Aggression:
Although aggression appears easy to recognize, defining it proves more difficult. The difficulty appears to lie in distinguishing between acceptable aggressive behavior which can occur when individuals are angry or frustrated, and violence, which involves the use of physical force and inflicts damage or injury to a person or property. Moyer (1976) argues that aggression may be no more than verbal or symbolic, but violence denotes, “a form of human aggression that involves inflicting physical damage on persons or property.”
This Unit is based on Moyer’s definition and will not directly deal with physical violence. Humanistic psychologists such as Maslow (1968) have made this distinction by classing aggression as: Natural or positive aggression which is aimed largely at self-defense, combating prejudice or social injustice, or Pathological aggression which results when an individual’s inner nature has become twisted or frustrated.
Hearing is not listening. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that, it requires focusing on the whole of your client. It means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the client uses his/her body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages. A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but to what is left unsaid or only partially said. Listening involves observing body language and noticing inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages. Counseling skills:
The term ‘counseling’ can be very confusing as it has a different meaning for different people. This is hardly surprising when the Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th Edition) gives at least two definitions of counseling, which appear to be conflicting: “give advice to (a person) on social or personal problems, especially professionally.” and
“The process of assisting and guiding clients, especially by a trained person on a professional basis, to resolve especially personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties.” Stress Management:
Whether it be in your voluntary placement or at work, it is now becoming more important than ever to recognize causes of stress in the workplace. Employers have a legal responsibility to recognize and deal with stress in the work place so that employees do not become physically or mentally ill. It is important to tackle the causes of stress in the workplace as it can lead to problems for the individual, working relationships and the working environment. Avoiding Stress:
Learn to recognize when you are stressed: Knowing what is likely to cause stress can help avoid such things in the future. Time management: Effective time management allows the amount of work taken on to be regulated, reduces the uncertainty of not having enough time to complete everything and allows for the planning of ‘time off’ periods in which to relax. Reduce the demands on yourself: Do not over-commit yourself and be prepared to say ‘no’ if the load is too great. Ensure that you get enough fun out of life: Allow time in the day for doing something that gives you pleasure. Positive thinking: Do not dwell on failures and reward yourself for any success you achieve.
Accept that everyone has limits and cannot succeed at everything. Reflect on what you have achieved. Practice assertiveness: Asserting yourself in a positive, non-threatening way can help to combat stress.after your physical well-being: People are much more able to cope with stress when their bodies are healthy. Poor health in itself is a major source of stress. Seek support from others: Do not try to cope with problems alone. Having someone to share your problems can greatly help to ‘off load’ the stress.
Confidentiality involves many grey areas when it comes to defining standards and responsibilities. You may have already found this out for yourself in your role. What should you tell and to whom? When should you break the rules? Who takes responsibility for decisions surrounding confidentiality in your organization? Group Working :
We can say that at base working with groups involves engaging with, and seeking to enhance, interactions and relationships within a gathering of two or more other people. Group work provides a context in which individuals help each other; it is a method of helping groups as well as helping individuals; and it can enable individuals and groups to influence and change personal, group, organizational and community problems. Negotiation:
Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument. In any disagreement, individuals understandably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position/clients or the organization they represent. However, the principles of fairness, seeking mutual benefit and maintaining a relationship are the keys to a successful outcome. Problem Solving:
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Problem solving occurs when an organism or an artificial intelligence system needs to move from a given state to a desired goal state. Stages of Problem Solving:
Effective problem solving usually involves a number of broad stages: Stage 1: Identification: Detecting and recognizing that there is a problem; identifying the nature of the problem; defining the problem. Stage 2: Structuring: A period of observation, careful inspection, fact finding and developing a clear picture of the problem. Stage 3: Looking for Possible Solutions: Generating a range of possible courses of action, but with little attempt to evaluate them at this stage.
Stage 4: Making a decision: A methodical analysis of the relative merits of the different possible courses of action and selecting a solution for implementation. Stage 5: Implementation: Accepting and carrying out the chosen course of action. Following implementation, a final stage of monitoring and seeking feedback is usually included. Stage 6: Monitoring/Seeking Feedback: Reviewing the outcomes of problem solving over a period of time, including seeking feedback as to the success of the outcomes of the chosen solution. Decision Making:
In its simplest sense, decision making is the act of choosing between two or more courses of action. However, it must always be remembered that there may not always be a ‘correct’ decision among the available choices. There may have been a better choice that had not been considered, or the right information may not have been available at the time.
WAYS TO IMPROVE INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
Pay attention to others
Practice active listening
Bring people together
See it from their side
Few people want to be around someone who is always down in the dumps. Do your best to be friendly and upbeat with your coworkers. Maintain a positive, cheerful attitude about work and about life. Smile often. The positive energy you radiate will draw others to you. Be appreciative:
Find one positive thing about everyone you work with and let them hear it. Be generous with praise and kind words of encouragement. Say thank you when someone helps you. Make colleagues feel welcome when they call or stop by your office. If you let others know that they are appreciated, they’ll want to give you their best. Pay attention to others:
Observe what’s going on in other people’s lives. Acknowledge their happy milestones, and express concern and sympathy for difficult situations such as an illness or death. Make eye contact and address people by their first names. Ask others for their opinions. Practice active listening:
To actively listen is to demonstrate that you intend to hear and understand another’s point of view. It means restating, in your own words, what the other person has said. In this way, you know that you understood their meaning and they know that your responses are more than lip service. Your coworkers will appreciate knowing that you really do listen to what they have to say. Bring people together:
Create an environment that encourages others to work together. Treat everyone equally, and don’t play favorites. Avoid talking about others behind their backs. Follow up on other people’s suggestions or requests. When you make a statement or announcement, check to see that you have been understood. If folks see you as someone solid and fair, they will grow to trust you. Resolve conflicts:
Take a step beyond simply bringing people together, and become someone who resolves conflicts when they arise. Learn how to be an effective mediator. If coworkers bicker over personal or professional disagreements, arrange to sit down with both parties and help sort out their differences. By taking on such a leadership role, you will garner respect and admiration from those around you. It is generally understood that communicating respect for other people or professionals within will enable one to reduce conflict and increase participation or assistance in obtaining information or completing tasks. Having positive interpersonal skills increases the productivity in the organization since the number of conflicts is reduced.
Pay close attention to both what you say and how you say it. A clear and effective communicator avoids misunderstandings with coworkers, colleagues, and associates. Verbal eloquence projects an image of intelligence and maturity, no matter what your age. If you tend to blurt out anything that comes to mind, people won’t put much weight on your words or opinions. Humor them:
Don’t be afraid to be funny or clever. Most people are drawn to a person that can make them laugh. Use your sense of humor as an effective tool to lower barriers and gain people’s affection. See it from their side (Empathy):
Empathy means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. Try to view situations and responses from another person’s perspective. This can be accomplished through staying in touch with your own emotions; those who are cut off from their own feelings are often unable to empathize with others. Don’t complain:
There is nothing worse than a chronic complainer or whiner. If you simply have to vent about something, save it for your diary. If you must verbalize your grievances, vent to your personal friends and family, and keep it short. Spare those around you, or else you’ll get a bad reputation.
Good interpersonal skills prove useful in your professional life as well as your personal life. Showing respect and empathy for your partner will help to perform his role comfortably. Helps to handle difficult people. Helps convey your message effectively without misinterpretations.