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Interpersonal Skills that Give You a Career Advantage

Updated on February 7, 2020
Basic Elements of Interpersonal Communications,
Basic Elements of Interpersonal Communications, | Source

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are used everyday, by everyone, to communicate and interact with other individuals and groups of people. These skills include communication in all of its forms with others, confidence and perhaps most importantly, the ability to listen and understand others. Problem solving decision making and personal stress management also qualify as interpersonal skills. These soft-skills or people skills as they are often referred to are universally sought out by employers. Beyond the specific job-related skills including education level and 'tools of the trade' related skills, interpersonal skills are valuable in any job or business requiring an interaction with people on any level. Working with other people is a requirement for virtually any job!


Specific Interpersonal Skills

Most interpersonal skills can be grouped under one of four main forms of communication: verbal, listening, written and non-verbal communication. Some skills such as recognition of stress and attitude are important to all forms of interpersonal communication. In order for communication to be effective, a person's verbal and written communications must match the non-verbal cues either consciously or unconsciously given otherwise miscommunication is inevitable.

Listening skills (possibly the most important of all communication skills) and verbal skills include:

  • Relaxation - a calm self-confident manner allows for more coherent verbal expression and gives the impression of an active listener.
  • Positive attitude - all people prefer communicating with the happy, accepting person
  • Empathy - by seeing, understanding and respecting another's point of view, a person gain's respect and the trust of others as a speaker and is seen as an attentive listener
  • Understanding stress in yourself and others - allows for self-monitoring of your own verbal communication and a greater understanding of a speaker's motivations; you realize when your tone of voice or word choice is affected by internal feelings of stress and as well understand when you are listening to someone who's speech is affected by stress; it allows you to compensate accordingly
  • Assertiveness - this quality is essential and fundamental to negotiation in that the participants express beliefs in a way others can understand but also respect the thoughts and feelings of all involved
  • Teamwork - includes adaptability and flexibility in dealing with differing personalities and differing interpersonal skill levels

Written skills include:

  • Analysis - strong analytical and research skills are key in expressing new ideas and getting them accepted by co-workers and senior management
  • Computer and technical literacy - these skills are essential in the business world as most written communication and all analysis of data occurs on the computer
  • Professionalism - this quality is important in all forms of interpersonal communication including written communication; standard formats for business correspondence are common and spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are unacceptable eroding a workers value in the firm

Non-verbal Interpersonal skills include:

  • Gestures
  • Eye-contact
  • Body language

All of the above can reinforce the honesty, integrity and morality of personal interaction with co-workers and clients. In verbal exchanges, a person lacking eye-contact is seen as dishonest and/ or lacking confidence in their words. Reliability and responsibility are also conveyed by positive gestures and body language that match the tone and content of the speakers voice. Excessive hand gestures and invasion of another's personal space is intimidating and detracts from the value of the conversation. Leaders and management personnel with poor non-verbal communication skills are not viewed as efficient, competent managers leading to poor office productivity and poor office moral.

The Contribution of Interpersonal Skills to Success in your Career

Listening skills are probably the most important in terms of business success and 'rising up the ladder' as they impact most other interpersonal skills. There is no more of a connection one can make to another than by listening carefully.1 No one individual has all the answers. Listening carefully, getting input, putting your ideas aside when others have better ones (co-operation) is an absolute necessity for a healthy organization. Active listeners can incorporate the team's discussion into coherent written documents that assimilate these discussions into productive problem solving. As well, all members of the team feel their contributions are valued, increasing not only productivity but office moral. The ability to listen at all levels is the primary characteristic separating productive companies from unproductive, unhealthy ones.

Many individuals are too eager to advance their own opinion. Few actually ask questions, or paraphrase the other person to make sure the points made by everyone involved are understood. To truly improve your skills in this area, ask more questions in order to listen and understand better:

  • "So are you really saying that......."
  • Why do you think this is the better outcome...."
  • Just to make sure I am understanding you correctly, I think I am hearing you say......
  • Could you repeat that last point about......

If you are not finding the task of listening mentally taxing and thought provoking work, then you are probably not listening well enough and your interpersonal skills, in general, require some serious improvement.

Work Cited

1 "Interpersonal Skills are Over-rated." Executive Source Partners. April 11, 2012.


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    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      wow, thanks so much Paul for the compliment. I'm so glad you found the hub relevant. Thanks also for the vote and sharing!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      This is an excellent hub on interpersonal skills. Everything that you write in this hub is so very true. If I had had better interpersonal skills while working for the government, I would have certainly advanced more once I hit the mid-management tier. Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning.

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Glad to hear you flock is doing well Emmanuel. I will drop by your hubs soon for a visit!

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      7 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      The Luo of Kenya (Obama's Dad's ethnic group) have that excessive gesturing. I notice that when the hands cannot be used (because they are holding something, and therefore engaged), the head takes over and moves to emphasise every word. So, as you say, culture plays a big part but if the candidate was aware that it interferes with communication, by reading this hub for instance, they could start to minimise it.

      the chicken are doing great. Roosters from the first batch started crowing this month. Second batch is about four months now and in good health.

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great to hear from you Emmanuel! I find excessive hand gesturing very distracting but I do know it is a bigger part of communication for some cultures. Thanks for the comment. How are those chickens of you'd doing?

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      7 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks for this hub Teresa. I am considering mailing this to some friends with 'excessive hand gesturing' which I find most disturbing - visual noise so to speak. I always wonder what the deaf think of it, when they attach much importance to 'signing' in their communication.

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Ruby. I enjoyed writing this one. Team work and listening are definitely two very important interpersonal skills that make you a valued employee. And both can take some real work to be good at!

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 

      7 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Team work stands out in a crowd. Being part of the team is essential. Thanks for a wonderful hub on such an important subject.

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Empathy. Absolutely! That can make all the difference. Voted up!

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      thanks for stopping by for the read. glad you enjoyed the hub. active listening is one of those skills I can always strive to be better at!

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      thanks K9 for the high praise. Active listening is one of those skills I can be very good at but in many cases especially when the topic is a passionate one I find myself becoming less of an active listener. It takes work like most skills don!

    • Teresa Coppens profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      thanks Rebecca. I also have to think hard sometimes about keeping my own mouth closed before others have finished their whole story. sometimes my mind is racing and I feel the need to voice my opinions before the next thought takes their place. true listening is really hard work but pays off in the end. thanks got the feedback!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Good job. Listening is so important. I remember being younger and just not listening in meetings, but stressing and letting my mind wander, Bad idea. This will be helpful tips to a broad audience!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 

      7 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Great answer to the Weekly Topic Inspiration! This hub should help so many in the workplace, and those who are trying to get a job. Many people forget that listening is an important skill. Thanks for sharing, and voted up.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      7 years ago from Northern, California

      This is a very comprehensive look at Interpersonal skills. I really appreciate the active listener, and your advice (lesson) on those who master this vital skill speaks volumes. This article would make for a great management seminar!

      Impressive work.



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