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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Updated on December 11, 2011

If you have spent any amount of time in the job market today, you may have noticed that many job descriptions require job applicants to have strong interpersonal skills.

If you are not familiar with the term, you might ask yourself "What are interpersonal skills?"

You will receive different answers from different people about the definition of the concept, but they should all amount to the same basic explanation:

Interpersonal skills are the abilities we use in order to work in a cooperative manner with other people in society.

Do You Believe Strong Interpersonal Skills Are Important?

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Teaching Careers (Including Trainers)

If you are seeking a position in a role where you will help others learn, interpersonal skills are necessary.

Those who teach need to be able to clearly explain concepts that might be completely new to their students.

In addition, when you are seeking employment in any kind of teaching capacity it is very important for you to be able to display passion for your subject, enthusiasm and energy in order to keep your students motivated to learn.

You will need to rely on interpersonal skills in order to sufficiently convey that passion, enthusiasm, and energy to your students.

Careers in Team Environments (Including Team Leaders)

Whether you are seeking employment in a job with a team environment, or you are seeking a job in the supervisory role of a team, your success in your new career will be dependent upon your ability to contribute to the group with ideas, opinions and effort.

Social Service Careers

Another important interpersonal skill is helping others find solutions to their problems - this is the very basis of social service careers.

If you are looking for a career where you will be serving clients, you will need to have a strong ability to listen and communication with patience and courtesy.

Leadership Roles

Some careers require the ability to lead others.

If you are seeking a career involving leadership ability, you will not only need to know exactly what goals you are trying to accomplish, you will also need to be able to motivate others to follow you and work toward the same goal.

Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity allows the workplace to be more interesting and balanced, but it has also introduced a challenge for some employees.

In order to remain employed and be successful in the culturally diverse workplace of today, you will need the ability to be able to work well with people from different ethnic, religious, social and/or educational backgrounds.

Cultural diversity has become an increasingly important interpersonal skill for those who are seeking employment in all career fields.

The Ability to Listen (Active Listening)

For many of us, when we hear others speak, we are often thinking of something else, or we are attempting to formulate a response to the speaker’s viewpoint.

Conflict and misunderstanding can ensue in the workplace, when we miss something important the speaker has stated.

Active listening requires the listener to tune in completely to what the speaker is saying and understand, evaluate, and interpret what the speaker has stated.

Perhaps the most important interpersonal skill to possess is the ability to be an active listener.

In Conclusion

Interpersonal skills make a job seeker a more appealing candidate for virtually any type of employment.

Now that you have a better idea of the answer to the question “What are interpersonal skills?” you might want to sit down and think about your personal abilities in this area, and perhaps work on some of the areas where you might not be quite as strong.

If you can master these skills, you are well on your way to finding success in any career you choose.

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      funny pictures, easy to read hub and very entertaining.

      Can't get those happy active listeners from Brooklyn out of my head.

      You mention a great point about teaching - the teacher should be passionate about what he's teaching and have lots of energy. My physics teacher was like this. We had one "explosive" year with him!

    • somethgblue profile image


      7 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      I tried taking the blue pill in the third grade and found it was way too boring . . .

      Be without fear, In the face of your enemies.

      Be brave and upright, that God may love thee.

      Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.

      Save God the helpless and do no wrong.

      That is my oath!

      Any ideas what movie that is from . . .or you can just wait for the hub?

    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 

      7 years ago from United States

      This was a really interesting read. The only thing I had trouble with is that I felt like you were answering the central question of the article in a round about way.

      It might have been just because the sub titles mostly list the environments rather than the interpersonal skills.

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      7 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      You would never have to ponder such dizzying issues of self imposed limitations if you would simply give in and take the darn blue pill!

    • somethgblue profile image


      7 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Only when I need to eat as I have yet to break myself of that habit . . . yet being the key word!

      I prefer the truth but am beginning to wonder if pursuing the truth is yet another form of self imposed limitations!

      After all by imposing limits on ones self are we not creating a self fulfilling prophecy?

      Isn't taking the Red Pill about the freedom to create ones own reality!

      Is not the matrix of our own making, simple by choosing to have no limits can we not break free from our own self imposed paradigm?

    • Rachelle Williams profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachelle Williams 

      7 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      @ somethingblue - ha ha ha . . . Nothing I have read in any of your informative and interesting hubs would lead me to think that you are a liar.

    • somethgblue profile image


      7 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      My description to interpersonal skills is learning to lie, I can be a very charming person when I want something from you.

      However if you don't have something I want . . . well you've read my hubs, I'll let you finish that thought!


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