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A Top Ten List of Interpersonal Skills to Boost Your Career

Updated on September 10, 2014
Interpersonal skills should be part of your office supply arsenal.
Interpersonal skills should be part of your office supply arsenal. | Source

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 judgment.

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.”

- Anonymous

Never assume.

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.

Take the time to reflect and think about how others may feel.
Take the time to reflect and think about how others may feel. | Source

Reflect.

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.”

-Anonymous

Smile.

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.

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?

See results

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.

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    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, TycoonSam! I hope they come in handy. :)

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 3 years ago from Washington, MI

      Excellent advice!

      Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hezekiah, savvydating, LensMan999, and CZCZCZ, thank you so much! Your thoughtful comments, shares, and kind compliments made my day. :)

      Savvydating, I hope you are as proud as I am of being a non-conformer!

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 3 years ago from Oregon

      Great list of tips to help boost your career. Thanks for sharing.

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 3 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      The skills mentioned in the hub to boost the career sounds great. I will surely try them. Thanks for sharing such a useful hub!!!

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 3 years ago

      Absolutely fabulous article. Not only useful, but easy to read. Being a non-conformer is excellent advice. This is something I have to work on as I get tend to get "comfortable" with my routine. It comes down to self-motivation, but for sure, this is something the bosses love and notice.

      Up & useful.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Very good points here, especially for people who are losing or have lost motivation at work.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, DDF! Yeah, rejection stinks, but it can help build up a thicker skin. Thanks for writing and I'm glad you got some positive stuff from the hub. :-)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Excellent never assume and the rest of your tips are s right and you made such helpful points on A Top Ten List of Interpersonal Skills to Boost Your Career, it i s often so difficult to cope with rejection bu you explained it so well.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, FullofLove and thanks so much for the comment! I'm glad you found these tips useful... and best of luck at review time! :)

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Great tips there... I need to get my interpersonal skills improving for my own benefit, aside from aiming for the high evaluation grades from my bosses. I admit that I lack such skills compared to my officemates. So this will be a big help. Thanks. :)

    • mercuryservices profile image

      Alex Munkachy 4 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      I agree that everyone could use more "tough love".

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, Blond Logic! And thanks so much for the compliment and the shares! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading! :)

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 years ago from Brazil

      This is an excellent list. I was prepared for another dry list but this is the opposite. I agree with Alissa, gossip was rife.

      Great ideas. I'll be sharing.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, healthyfitness! Thanks for the comment and for visiting and good luck on HP! :)

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, FSlovenec for visiting and for the comment. Many people forget that gossiping can reflect poorly on themselves!

    • healthyfitness profile image

      Rick Grimes 4 years ago

      "Never Assume" - Such a wonderful tip and completely goes over some people's heads. Great article!

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      All good in the gossip eliminate gossip the tongue kills, why would anyone want to put themselves in position to share lies, misnomers or bad things about other people, what purpose does it serve. the watercooler for refreshment not office gossip ... thanks

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Joan! Thanks for the compliment and for reading. :)

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 4 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Excellent recommendations.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      John, thanks! Working without assumptions is a toughie, but totally worth it. Thanks for commenting!

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Aexbush, I'm so sorry for the delay in responding -- I missed your kind comment somehow. Thanks so much for responding!

    • johnsmitht profile image

      johnsmitht 4 years ago

      "Never Assume"... This is a trait I am continually trying to improve..

    • aexbush profile image

      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      I consider business communication skills to be in the "Top 5" of those needed to survive and thrive in business, so I especially appreciated your wise observations.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, Matt -- great to see you! Yup, deferring judgment is a lot easier when there's nothing to judge. ;-) But seriously, that's one of the hardest to learn and the easiest to forget.

    • mattdigiulio profile image

      mattdigiulio 4 years ago

      This has been something on my mind recently... I especially appreciate the "deferring judgement" rule, though it is a tough habit to break. Thank you!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, Suelynn for stopping by and for the votes! I really appreciate it. :^)

    • Suelynn profile image

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Lots of good advice here, CleverCat and really well presented too. Voted useful, interesting and UP. :)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Marina!

      Personally, I think #2 is the most difficult. There are so many types of rejection and it can be really hard to get back on the horse, but it really does build character.

    • Marina Lazarevic profile image

      Marina 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      I love this Hub, theclevercat! Number 2 and 7 especially - both things I try to work on. The tough love approach is great, and I appreciate this honest and awesome list.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, pandula77! Non-conformers, unite! :-)

    • pandula77 profile image

      pandula77 5 years ago from Norway

      Clever advice clevercat, thanks for sharing! This should make anyone think twice on the traditional form of advice one receives in career building classes! Great hub.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Sandra! I appreciate your reading and commenting! :-)

    • sandramathew profile image

      sandramathew 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Every point in your list is bang on!! I wish i could incorporate all in my work. Nice hub for sure :)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, neeleshkulkarni! Thank you and yes, these tips also work during everyday life, whether it be with family, friends, neighbors, or at the grocery store. :) Thank you for noting that, and for reading my Hub!

    • neeleshkulkarni profile image

      neeleshkulkarni 5 years ago from new delhi

      lovely tips and not just for the office but also for life.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, tammyswallow! I'm so glad to have joined HubPages; it's really a pleasure to be part of such a great community.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      These tips are so unique and so true! There are so many of these aspects in professional employment and your hub touches on each of them. Very well written and helpful for all. It is hard to believe that you are new here! Great job!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Northlandws, this is so true. It especially happens when we have made good friends there. We have to remember to act professionally.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

    • northlandws profile image

      northlandws 5 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota

      Great topic! When we become comfortable in the workplace, we tend to forget to behave properly.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, farmloft! Thanks so much for the compliment, read, vote, and comment. (Also, I love your avatar! Beautiful pic.)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, CASE1WORKER! You sure are lucky there's no detrimental gossip at your workplace - terrific! And pretty much everyone has broken these tips, with or without meaning to. Thank you so much for the read, vote, and comment! :)

    • farmloft profile image

      farmloft 5 years ago from Michigan

      Voted up! Great originality on finding some of the truest skills needed to move ahead.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      An interesting hub- I guess I have broken all the rules throughout my ife at work, but I now work somewhere where there is absolutely no gossip that would be detrimental or hurt anyone- so I guess I have landed on my feet

      Interesting hub- Voted up

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Linda! Deferring judgment is really hard to learn... people do this all the time, and even trying to do it at work for those hours can be surprisingly stressful! Thanks for stopping by, and the votes and share, and especially the great comment!

    • Linda Bliss profile image

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hello Clevercat and thanks for listing out these interpersonal skills! In the beginning of my career, I kept getting caught out by number 1 - defer judgment. I would make a snap judgment of people I met at work and 9 times out of ten I was wrong. Over time I learned to do just what you suggested -deferring judgement! Great hub, voted up and shared!

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Arlene! Dealing with rejection is so tough, but definitely a plus for us writers!!! Phew! :^)

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      Way to go! What a wonderful Hub with great guidelines for anyone who wants to succeed in the workplace. My all-time favorite is being able to deal with rejection. That is a precious skill for everyone--including writers!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Heh heh heh! Thank you so much, Docmo! I must say though, writing the hub was easy; learning the skills in the hub... not so much. Thanks for the comment and votes! :^)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Brilliant! In writing this hub you have exhibited all those skills yourself- you didn't assume the same old list of interpersonal skills matter, you chose not to confirm and not to assume and came up with a fantastic and pertinent list yourself.

      You truly are, 'theclevercat!' voted up/awesome!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Ruby -- they really do wonder... and when they find out you're trying to improve a process or something else, they wonder even more! :^)

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, Stella - thanks for stopping by, and leaving a comment. Comments make my day!

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Thumbs up for sure. I love smiling so they will wonder what I am up to!

      Great hub, too, by the way.

    • StellaSee profile image

      StellaSee 5 years ago from California

      Oh man, I'm guilty of the judging and assuming ones. "Never assume...it makes an ass out of you and me!" So true! Great quote and nice article clevercat :D

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Teresa and great to see you! :-) Thank you so much for the vote and the comment. Yes, if your kids learn these early, that would be fab.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      wonderful answer to the weekly inspiration. Everyone of your top ten list was bang on! I often found it hard to 'pick my battles' and not retaliate when I felt wronged but it is excellent advice. We tell our kids to do the same at school but boy it is not easy! excellent hub and voted up!

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, annescripts! I really appreciate your reading, and leaving a comment.

    • annescripts profile image

      annescripts 5 years ago from Gilbert, AZ

      Your insights are right on! Voted up and awesome.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for the comment and votes, rosika! I'm so glad to hear that you've had success with these as well.

    • rosika profile image

      rosika 5 years ago

      Reflecting back on my day to day duties has really helped me to move ahead in my career..You have shared very useful tips here to boost one's career... very nice hub....useful and voted up!

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Gina! Thank you for the thoughtful comment -- being human is never easy, but practice makes perfect, I guess. :^)

    • profile image

      Gina 5 years ago

      These are great! I teach these in my university classes whenever I can and try to practice them as well. Of course, being human, I often fail! But thanks for the reminders.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi rahul0324, and thanks for the kind comment!

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Cara, thank you so much! Yup, the high road is difficult sometimes, but worth it in the long run (certainly karma-wise!)

      And self reflection is no easier. Accepting that you can be a better (out more understanding, kinder, more patient, less obnoxious, whatever) takes a lot of evolving.

      Great to see you and thanks again! :-)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      A very useful hub

      noted! will memorize and will apply surely!

      thanks for the share!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Loved that you said no one ever said that improving yourself would be easy. I fully believe that. It is hard to be the best person that you can be (and take the high road...ahem) but it is important. It shows your character and shows your boss/co-workers that you are dedicated to your job.

      I also think that the self reflection piece is so critical and yet so underutilized by people. It seems to ALWAYS be someone else's fault. Great job, I love your approach.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, jainismus! Thanks for reading and the nice comment.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      theclevercat,

      thank you for sharing such useful tips.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, Simone! Its always great to great what you have to say. I'm glad you've had success with those you list... and hey, everyone slips now and then, so I'm really excited that the HP team picked this as a Weekly Inspiration topic.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, one2get2no... don't worry, we've all broken these. How do you think I figured these out? ;-) I learned most of these the hard way. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm really glad I've read this. It never hurts to brush up on one's interpersonal skills, and the ones you've listed here are fantastic! I have especially seen success with having a thick skin with regards to rejection, being a nonconformist, and smiling- hehee! Now I need to work on keeping my voice down... and a couple others listed here. Great Hub!

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      Superb hub..I'm afraid I have broken all of these at some point in my career. Voted up!

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Chin chin! Thanks for the comment -- most of these definitely can work in other settings as well. Thank goodness for transferable skills! :-)

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Denise! Thank you got the read, the votes, and the comment! :-)

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 5 years ago from Philippines

      This is a really good list to follow. I don't work in an office setting anymore but I believe that these apply as well in any social set-up. Thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      great tips here. Voted up.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Peg and thanks for reading, commenting, and voting!

      So true about #2. Rejection is tough from all angles, but it's better just to jump right back in, than sit and stew.

    • theclevercat profile image
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      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Alissa! Thanks so much for the votes!

      Yup, gossip has caused many a rift in office relationships. It's definitely one of the reasons why I would like to work from home.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This is a great list of interpersonal skills that can get a worker into loads of trouble if they don't follow them. I like number 2 which applies to more than just colleagues. Often the boss is guilty of dishing out rejection as well. Number 7 is one that took me way too long to find out! Voted up and useful.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      This is an awesome list to boost your career! Though it has been awhile since I have been in an office setting, I am pretty sure my office broke every rule above. Dealing with the gossip was the worst! I can honestly say I don't miss that part. Great hub - voted up and a few others!

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