A Top Ten List of Interpersonal Skills to Boost Your Career
Listening to others. Problem-solving. Being a team player. Appreciating others. Projecting positive body language.
Yawn. Exhibiting skills like these is a no-brainer when you’re trying to get ahead in your chosen career. So the following list focuses on transferable traits and behaviors that you may not have thought of, and with a little work could become your most valuable skills.
And hey, if some of these sound like tough love, that’s because they are. No one ever said improving yourself would be easy!
Defer your judgment about the way someone is dressed, how they speak, where they received their education, and the ideas they present.
In plain language, don’t be snooty. Even someone you might deem the trashiest, most vulgar, most politically incorrect person you have ever met could have a great idea. In fact, that idea may be better than yours, or more easily put into practice.
And remember, the more different they are from you, the greater the likelihood that they will present a point of view you won’t have considered.
Know how to deal with rejection.
So your manager shot down one of your ideas? You asked a colleague to lunch and they declined? Gee, that’s too bad. But there are lots of reasons someone might reject you, and they are not all because of something you did. Maybe your colleague is short on cash this week, and doesn’t feel like sharing that knowledge with you. Can you blame them?
Don’t bother pouting, sniffing, badmouthing the person, or holding a grudge against them. Just get over it, and move on. In other words, be an adult.
"Never assume… it makes an ass out of you and me.”
There’s a reason this old quote has stuck around so long – it’s true!
If you must know the answer to a question, or the truth to a rumor, just ask. There’s no guarantee that you will receive the answer you want, but at least you’ve made an effort to learn what’s really going on.
Play good cop and bad cop on your own and really open your mind to opposing sides of an argument you may be having with a coworker.
Even if you don’t end up “winning” the argument with the coworker in the short run, you will likely still learn something about what makes that person tick... which will come in very handy in the long run!
Be a non-conformer!
Hands down, this is my favorite “skill” and it is one that has served me well.
Go against the grain. Take on responsibilities others won’t touch and realize you have made excellent contacts in the process. Dream up a new way of doing things and see what happens. The odds are good that you will get noticed, and in a positive way.
“Smile! It makes them wonder what you’ve been up to.”
There’s no need to simper and smirk… but do experiment and give out confident smiles on those days when you would prefer to give out backhands. A well-timed, peaceable smile can defuse most tough situations. Practice in the mirror until it feels natural.
A Bully-free Zone
Pick your battles.
The office bully won’t know what happened when you stand up to them with a solid, unemotional argument. When it's time to go head to head, be sure to back up your debate with facts and documented sources.
On the other hand, also know when to shut up. Coworkers will notice when you do both of these, and so will the head honchos.
Keep gossip to a minimum.
Being the office gossip may seem like fun as people will seek you out for those choice bits of news. But it’s never a good idea. You will end up with a bad reputation, and no amount of kind chitchat can make up for a tiny piece of false or mean gossip. No one wants to work with a Nosy Parker, because they know that whatever they say is likely to be repeated… and twisted around.
So tell me...
Which of these interpersonal skills and behaviors are broken the most where you work?
Don’t monopolize friendly conversations.
In the big scheme of things, no one really cares about your dog’s special diet, the latest doings at your condo development, or your new shoes (however cute you think they are). As coworkers, the people around you want to be friendly, but the conversation about your latest date can easily turn into a monologue and wind up as boring at best, or too much information at worst.
So stop being so self-centered, and let someone else talk once in a while. And keep in mind that they less you talk now, the more people will be willing to listen later... when it might really matter.
Keep your voice down.
This is especially useful if you work in an open office. Don’t be the office loudmouth. Do you really want everyone to hear financial details about your latest project or that swear word you let slip? If your coworkers can hear you down the hall, please reevaluate the volume of your voice.
And never forget… silence is golden, especially in an office.