You may have heard the term “interpersonal skills” before. These skills are very important skills to have in the workplace and are something that employers look for when hiring. But what are they exactly? And why is it important to have them?
'Interpersonal skills are very important to have in the workplace and are something that employers look for when hiring'
What are interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills are essentially the social skills you need to do a job well and work well with others. These are soft skills. Soft skills are non-technical skills that you need to do a job aside from a degree or other qualifications. For example, you may be qualified to do a job on paper, but if you aren’t good at working with other people it will make it tricky to get a job. This is because in the workplace, you will need to work collaboratively with your colleagues in order to achieve a common goal.
You use many interpersonal skills on a daily basis, but it is good to understand which interpersonal skills you have and which ones you might need to work on. If you have ever been to a job interview, these are the skills that employers will be looking for you to demonstrate. So, here are few of the interpersonal skills that employers look for and how you can improve them:
Being able to communicate effectively is a really important skill to have in the workplace. At work, you will be required to communicate with people in many different ways, e.g. face to face, by email and over the phone. However, it is important that you are able to communicate ideas clearly, concisely and in an appropriate manner. For example, the way you communicate with your friends and family will be very different and much more informal than the way you will need to communicate at work.
Some of the key elements of good communication skills are listening, speaking with confidence and clarity and empathy. We’ll come onto listening and empathy in more detail a bit later.
Top tip: If you want to practice communicating clearly, why not try recording yourself telling a story to a friend and listen to it back? Were you speaking at a good pace? Were you easy to understand?
Listening is equally as important as being able to communicate well. We all listen to people speak every day, but there is a big difference between actually listening to what someone is saying and simply hearing them. Listening well involves something called active listening. Active listening involves being fully engaged in a conversation and giving your full attention without any distractions.
Top tip: There are many things you can do to show that you are listening to someone fully. This includes making eye contact, asking questions and repeating certain bits of information back to whoever is speaking to show that you understand what they are saying.
Empathy is the ability to understand someone else's feelings and “step into their shoes”. In the workplace, empathy is important for helping to resolve conflicts and strengthen working relationships, as it can help you to understand your colleagues better. Empathy is not always easy though, as it will require you to put aside your own emotions and try to understand how the other person may be feeling and see certain situations.
Top tip: If you want to work on your empathy, active listening will help you to do this. This is because active listening requires you to fully listen to someone so that you can understand them.
We’re sure you’ve heard someone say “there’s no ‘I’ in team” at some point in your life and they were right. You will have used this skill all throughout your education by doing things like taking part in group tasks, or playing team sports. While teamwork won’t be a new concept, this skill is another essential one to have in the world of work.
In the workplace, being a team player means that you can understand the role each person plays as an individual and as part of the group to achieve a goal together. In order to be a good team player you will need to be positive, adaptable, and supportive of your colleagues.
Employers look for team players because teamwork helps create a good working environment, increases productivity and the ability to come up with new ideas. On a personal level, working as part of a team also helps you to learn from others!
Top tip: If you want to brush up on your teamworking skills, try getting involved in a team extracurricular activity. This will give you an opportunity to practise your teamwork skills without even thinking!
Want to know what else you can do to get that job? Check out these tips on how to answer typical interview questions!