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You may be an Excel whiz, cook a mean vegetarian chili, or never miss a free throw. But how are your soft skills?

You know, the intangible skills that enhance your social life and other areas. These interpersonal skills help you develop relationships, clinch that job, and communicate with others by speaking and listening.

Let’s talk about why they matter and how you can develop these important people skills!

See Related: Top 5 Reasons Why Rapport Should Be At The Top Of Your Priority List

Wait, What Are People Skills?

Great question! They are the skills we use to interact with each other. You may call them interpersonal skills, conversation skills, or communication skills. Make sense?

Some folks have natural social skills that make everything easier, from small talk to deep conversation. For others, however, just small talk leads to anxiety, let alone presentations or job interviews.

Luckily, I have a few master of ceremony tricks up my sleeve for improving your interpersonal skills. So, without further ado, here are my 6 tips for developing strong PEOPLE skills!

Two co workers sit at a desk and look at a tablet together#1: Pay Attention to the Other Person

Paying attention to people demonstrates that you respect them. A willingness to hear from and exchange words with people will help you build better relationships.

Here are a few ways to show someone you are focusing on them:

  • Pay them a thoughtful compliment on an article they wrote (one that shows you actually read it!);
  • Ask them about the hobbies you’ve noticed they are into. (Do they always come to the workplace with a tennis racket? Do you catch them doing crosswords between meetings?)

This is one of the best ways to improve your people skills. First of all, it takes the focus off of you, which can relieve your nerves. Second of all, it demonstrates that you have an open mind and want to learn. Most people like to speak to folks like that.

Three coworkers stand and chat with each other over coffee#2: Eye Contact Makes a Difference

We often think of social skills as being all about verbal communication. But body language is a huge factor if you want to improve people skills! Trust me, a corporate emcee knows all

Making eye contact while speaking with someone shows you are focused on them. As we mentioned earlier, your focus is a sign of respect. This makes eye contact an important people skill.

Imagine this:

You are chatting with a person at your workplace. Their facial expressions are completely blank. Their eyes keep drifting away from you, toward the sounds coming from the break room.

How would you feel at this moment? Their behavior may indicate to you that they would rather be doing anything but communicating with you. This is essentially a feeling of rejection, which does not make for strong relationships.

Two colleagues work together on a project#3: Open Up

For a person with social anxiety, the ability to open up may not come naturally. It can be easier to take the backseat in an interaction.

However, conversations are meant to be two-way streets. It is good form to contribute and not expect the other person to do all the talking. Someone with good people skills knows how to avoid the dreaded awkward silence by sharing their ideas.

Opening up can improve your social confidence

Sometimes it is hard to think of ourselves as interesting. But I promise you are fascinating!

Ask yourself:

  • What do I like to do in my spare time?
  • What am I getting better at?
  • What makes me laugh?
  • What do I love to watch or read?
  • What are my goals?

Having these answers on hand helps you not have to search for conversation topics.

I’d bet that you share commonalities with other people in your business or in your life. Offering up these parts of yourself gives the other person a chance to connect with you.

Two people in blue button downs shake hands as one holds a laptop#4: Practice!

Good social skills require practice! Like anything else, it makes sense that the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

The more you interact with people, the more likely you are to feel comfortable doing so.

If you want to improve your self-confidence, you need to take the leap!

  • Choose to put yourself in a social situation. Go to the party. Stay for drinks after the business meeting. Invite new friends to get coffee.
  • If you are at a social event, take advantage! Choose one new person to interact with. This is an approachable way to start feeling more comfortable in a social setting.
  • If your office hires an emcee for the day, pay close attention to how they interact with your co-workers. You can learn a lot from them!

Three people smile at each other and two shake handsBonus: How to Become an Event Manager in 5 Steps

#5: Listen Carefully

Active listening is a vital part of having good people skills.

We’ve touched on active listening before; but here’s a quick review.

It means that you are really processing what the other person is saying. You are not just being polite; you are taking an active interest in what they say.

Most people just want to know when they can chime in with their next comment.

You’ve been in that situation before. You watch the person search for a chance to share their next thought. They don’t even really hear what you’ve said. It’s not a good feeling, is it?

Whether you are with co-workers in the workplace or friends at dinner, listen with care. You will process more details and be able to respond appropriately and thoughtfully.

Two employees sit together and work on a project#6: Emotional Awareness Gets You Far

Emotional intelligence is essentially the ability to be aware of another person’s emotions. It means that you can identify what another person is feeling and respond empathetically.

For example, a colleague shows up to work.

They keep their head down and are not smiling, though they are usually upbeat and friendly. This might indicate that they are going through something challenging.

This type of intelligence helps you solve problems.

If a friend is clearly having a hard day, you might approach them more gently. If someone is feeling excitable, you can match their energy. This skill makes for very strong relationships.

Three coworkers brainstorm an idea togetherReady for a Recap?

Let’s review my 6 favorite tips for improving your PEOPLE skills:

#1: Pay attention to the other person.

#2: Eye contact makes a difference.

#3: Open up.

#4: Practice!

#5: Listen thoughtfully and carefully.

#6: Emotional awareness gets you far.

Keep Reading: 10 Ways to Become a Time Management Pro

Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetingsspecial eventsgala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on InstagramFacebookPinterestLinkedIn, and YouTube.