Good interpersonal skills are more than just a corporate buzzword. They are what make you an effective communicator, colleague, boss, and friend.
Obviously, they’ve been around since the beginning of humanity. And, call them what you like – social skills, emotional intelligence, communication skills, interpersonal relations – but, really, they are the qualities and methods by which you can become a trustworthy and social person as much as a good colleague, a good team player, and a good leader.
Interpersonal skills – as this particular name suggests – are those things that allow humans to build relationships, to get along with and interact with others, and to work collaboratively (in all aspects of the term ‘work’ – not just in an employment context).
This, really, is the importance of having great interpersonal skills. Because success in effective communication is the basis of all social life. And, by becoming conscious of them, you’ll excel in all aspects of your work, leisure, and being.
By looking at any job advert in the world, you’ll see the sort of interpersonal skills that employers value. Consider the ones that you can think of off the top of your head (we bet they are the same as ours:
All of these things are so familiar that they are almost banal. Yet, this only highlights the importance of interpersonal skills in the world of modern employment.
Interpersonal skills cover everything from basic communication and listening skills – including being comfortable with giving and receiving feedback – to the skills essential to leadership, team-working, negotiating and dealing with disagreement.
Yet, as you’ll see, they are not limited to the workplace. Rather, they are skills that are essential across all different parts of life.
For more information on the range of interpersonal skills, check out our article, What are Interpersonal Skills?
Excel in work and life with interpersonal skills.
Let’s take a look at some of the different benefits of quality interpersonal skills – and convince you of the importance of developing them both in work and in your wider life.
Find out how to develop your interpersonal skills!
Interpersonal skills are those that affect your ability to relate to others, to confidently and effectively communicate, to be empathetic, and, quite simply, to get along.
And, as such, excelling in your interpersonal skills will enable you to cultivate relationships – both professional and personal – that are healthy, strong, honest, and guided by a mutual respect.
Effective body language and active listening are not just buzzwords, but things that you do naturally with those closest to you anyway. If you are looking to develop those skills, a bit of self-awareness – but obviously not too much – is important, as it will help you to transfer the way you are comfortably into domains in which you are not necessarily so comfortable.
We’ll say it again: interpersonal skills are just people skills. They are just the skills you use to know how to communicate, how to engage in social interaction, and your ability to understand others.
And whilst these skills that you no doubt have in the wider world can be hugely useful when imported into work, you can also use the skills training that you have had in work in your life outside work too.
The art of persuasion, the simple interpersonal skill of building a rapport, the ability to make small talk. These are all things that are not useful exclusively in the workplace. But develop them there and you’ll find yourself improving your social intelligence generally.
That’s another benefit of developing your interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal skills are important in opening bringing you to new opportunities and offers.
Think networking, think finding potential clients, employers, or investors. These things require not just a good business idea, but an ability to sell it and to sell yourself too.
It’s not daft – or indeed even obvious – to point out that interpersonal skills are at the forefront of your ability to do this. Whilst eye contact, facial expressions, and other elements of non-verbal communication seem like nothing, they can turn your chat into a lasting relationship.
Personal skills are crucial when you are in any sort of networking context – and they will build your self-confidence to act professionally too.
We listed above some of the interpersonal skills that you might find in a job advert – from the ability to communicate effectively to conflict management to time management. And whilst your job application will describe that you have these skills, an interview is a great place to show that you excel at these things too.
Imagine a proofreader applying for a job with a cover letter full of typos. Then think of a management candidate attending an interview in which they demonstrate a complete lack of people skills and an ability to, well, manage.
Having worked to develop your interpersonal skills beforehand, you can be sure that you are going into that interview to knock your future employers’ socks off.
Leaders come up with the ideas, they take decisions, and they manage, inspire, and motivate people too.
Besides their expertise in their particular field – whether tech, finance, politics, or anything else – they need all of these skills. And, of course, these are all to be found right in the canon of interpersonal skills.
Without them, you can only get to the position in which you are really good at something – a specialist, say. But a leader is not a specialist; it’s something much more.
If you are hoping to make change happen and bring people with you, you need to work to develop your interpersonal skills.
Become a leader with your new interpersonal skills!
And it’s not just your team or potential employers who will see value in your new interpersonal skills.
Your clients, customers, or potential future business partners will appreciate them too. Clients don’t want to just see that your technical skills are up to scratch – whatever service it is you are selling, whether copywriting services or engineering products – but they will want to see that you are committed to their wishes, that you are trustworthy and punctual, and that you can empathise with their particular view of the world.
Add to this the fact that you are simply more likely to be hired if you are just nice and you have plenty of other reasons why you’d want to commit to your interpersonal skills.
The same stands for trust. Respect and trust in the business world are not things that are freely given. And whilst, again, clients and employers might trust your hard skills, that won’t necessarily be enough to win their respect.
The term ‘professionalism’ infuses the notion of interpersonal skills. This means behaving appropriately to the situation that you are in. Whilst your personal skills might flourish down the pub, the same ‘skills’ are not necessarily appreciated in a business conversation. Knowing the difference is not banal – and it’s something to which you’ll need to give some thought.
Trust and respect are not things that are limited to the business world either – and developing your interpersonal skills can be a helping hand in all walks of life.
Be a great business leader with your interpersonal skills.
As we’ve discussed before, interpersonal skills are not just the name for a specific business skill set. Rather, the things that they require benefits all aspects of your life.
Being able to communicate effectively will bring benefits to you as a person, at a personal level. Imagine having a conversation but not having the interest, empathy, or skills to listen properly to what your interlocutor is saying. This does actually happen.
Listening is a skill that you shouldn’t take for granted. Being able to accept criticism, suggestions, and advice is essential to growth and development as a human being. Other people do often have interesting things to say – and it will benefit you hugely to be able to learn from them.
Find out more about interpersonal skills