Interpersonal skills are the life skills we use every day when we communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. Developing a strong interpersonal skill will enable you achieve success in your life.
To be successful in every aspect of your life you need good interpersonal skill. You need to understand how to deal with other people if you really want to succeed. Interpersonal skills are the tools people use to interact and communicate with individuals in every aspect of life.
The way you treat people makes a big difference. Instead of just treating others the way you would want to be treated, think about others the way you would want to be thought of. Feel about others the way you would want others to feel about you. Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to or spoken of.
Recognising people as individuals is a crucial stepping stone in developing interpersonal skills. What is really driving people? What experience colours their views? What lies behind their decisions? Being curious for no reason other than being genuinely interested is essential because it can lead to influencing others’ actions.
We meet people that are arrogant and very disrespectful and on too many occasions we want to retaliate. I have found myself on many occasions where I have the urge to retaliate and give them a taste of their own poison, but the better part of me always takes over. I don’t want to be on the same level with them because I want to be better, I want to be honest and I don’t want to be controlled by my emotions. I try to find whatever I think is positive about them and focus on.
There will be inevitable circumstances when you will be made to look like the bad person. It is easy to lose control and make the rest of the world believe you’re truly the bad guy. You need to stay calm, breath and relax. Don’t be in a hurry to make things right or to prove to everyone you’re not the bad person. Sometimes, at times like this what really drives you crazy is the fact that even people you trust and you thought they have your back are not making any effort to respect your role in the matter, or they went out of their way to demolish your integrity and reputation. Do not follow in the same order, even if you feel it is just or deserved.
You do not know what goes on in the mind of another or what motivates another’s actions. All you can do is take responsibility for your response to this situation, and choose to show ultimate compassion and respect when it is hard to find. Not only will this make you a better person, it will show others your true integrity and make it nearly impossible to doubt yours if it is threatened or attacked in the future.
You cannot influence people if you can’t understand them. Influencing people goes beyond mastering some set of tricks, because each individual is different; realising that will make you more effective and hopefully you will come to appreciate why these differences are crucial assets when working together. You must be aware that understanding someone is very different to judging them. The problem is not in forming judgements, but in assuming they are facts.
There are seven main areas of interpersonal communication and they are:
- Verbal communication
- Nonverbal communication
- Listening skills
Verbal communication is the sharing of information between individuals by using speech. Clarity of speech, remaining calm and focused, being polite and following some basic rules of etiquette will all aid the process of verbal communication. In many interpersonal encounters, the first few minutes are extremely important as first impressions have a significant impact on the success of further communication. The use of encouraging words alongside non-verbal gestures such as head nods, a warm facial expression and maintaining eye contact, are more likely to reinforce openness in others.
Nonverbal communication is the behaviour and elements of speech and it includes pitch, speed, tone and volume of voice, gestures and facial expressions, body posture, stance, and proximity to the listener, eye movements and contact, and dress and appearance.
Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.
Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.
Interpersonal relationships fail and businesses fail because of poor problem solving skills. This is often due to other problems not being recognised or being recognised, but not being dealt with appropriately. Solving a problem involves a certain amount of risk - this risk needs to be weighed up against not solving the problem.
Decision-making is the act of choosing between two or more courses of action. Decisions can be made through either an intuitive or reasoned process, or a combination of the two. Decisions need to be capable of being implemented, whether on a personal or organisational level. You do, therefore, need to be committed to the decision personally, and be able to persuade others of its merits. An effective decision-making process, therefore, needs to ensure that you are able to make the decision and as well as implementing the decision made.
Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passively accepting ‘wrong’. Being assertive involves taking into consideration your own and other people’s rights, wishes, wants, needs and desires. Assertiveness means encouraging others to be open and honest about their views, wishes and feelings, so that both parties act appropriately.
To develop an effective interpersonal skill you need to:
- Cultivate a positive outlook in life.
- Be in control of your emotions.
- Be aware of other people’s emotions.
- Acknowledge others’ expertise. This will build trust.
- Treat people equally without bias.
- Maintain a positive smile.
- Show real interest in the people you’re dealing with.
- Practice active listening. The speaker will feel respected, and you’re likely to be able to recall the conversation more easily afterwards.
- It’s important to be assertive. Be confident in your ability and opinions, and don’t be afraid to express your needs, as well as your limits.
- Gain a well-rounded view of things by putting yourself in other people’s shoes. This will help you develop empathy for others.
- Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” ruin the relationships you’ve carefully built up over the years. Maintain your relationships.
- You cannot control or change anyone else. You can do is play your part the best you can, accept whatever you get, and adapt your actions from there.
At the end of the day, the key to effective interpersonal communication comes down to practice.