Sure, technical skills are important in the workplace. Let’s be honest; whoever knows how to unjam the printer is a highly valued employee!
However, soft skills – namely people skills – are just as important.
See Related: 6 Secrets for Improving Your People Skills
Wait, What Are Good People Skills?
People skills are the intangible skills that help you get along with those around you. The people skills you need will help you resolve conflict, form strong bonds, and so much more.
Someone with excellent people skills is typically well-liked and highly respected.
And that person is an invaluable addition to workplace culture!
This is why some hiring managers consider excellent people skills even more important than technical skills.
So, I’d like to share 11 people skills that will help you be successful in the workplace:
#1: Actively Listen to Those Around You
Active listening is one of the most important people skills and interpersonal skills you can develop.
To actively listen is to give the person speaking your undivided attention.
- You are not concerned with making your next point.
- Your mind is not wandering off, thinking about your cat.
No, you are invested in what they are saying to you. Active listening means you are processing the information being told.
I recommend you practice active listening as a way to improve your personal effectiveness.
This is essentially how you present yourself to other people. Someone who actively listens is likely to be seen as thoughtful, caring, and considerate.
#2: Express Approachability Through Body Language
Now, body language is obviously not a skill you can describe in your cover letter. But it is something you have the ability to demonstrate in an interview, or on the job!
Someone with strong people skills will use their physicality to help people feel comfortable and welcome.
Let’s say that you sit at your desk hunched over, with your headphones on. Do you think this makes people feel comfortable approaching you?
Now, it may be a time when you do not want to be approached. That is totally fine! But…
If you are trying to use your interpersonal skills to develop relationships, consider:
- Removing the headphones so you have the ability to listen to others.
- Going to do some work in a communal working space.
- Getting up and visiting your colleagues on your break.
- If there is consent, offering a handshake or a hug.
Using physicality to your advantage is one of the greatest people skills you can master.
#3: Use Great Communication Skills to Develop Relationships
Honestly, I think great communication skills and people skills are fairly synonymous.
Ultimately, getting along with people is all about whether or not you can communicate effectively.
Some strong communication skills to practice are:
- Waiting until the other person is finished before you speak. No interrupting!
- Remembering people’s names after you’ve met them.
- Using the other person’s preferred method of communication (email, text, phone, in person, etc.).
- Maintaining a friendly and respectful tone.
#4: Stay Authentic with Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills help you interact with other people effectively.
They are the amalgamation of multiple social skills we’ve already discussed, such as:
- Active listening;
- Body language;
- Good communication.
Activate your interpersonal skills by showing interest in other people. Show off that good personality!
- What did your colleague learn at the leadership conference they attended last week?
- Is there a story behind their engagement ring?
- How did their child’s lacrosse game go over the weekend?
Here’s a secret: many people love to talk about themselves.
Even folks who come off shy often appreciate someone showing interest in their lives. So, ask questions! This will inspire conversations that can help you sharpen your interaction skills.
Soft skills bolster productive human interaction
You’ve got them talking and now you are learning more about them. Because you are actively listening (another one of your people skills), you ask thoughtful questions.
Next thing you know, they are asking you questions. and you discover that you are both alums of the same high school! This opens a whole new door to deepen your relationship.
#5: Bring People Together with Teamwork Skills
Need one key people skill to highlight in your cover letter or job application? Make it teamwork. Here’s why:
Companies want to hire someone with excellent technical skills, of course. But honestly, many of those skills can be taught.
It is harder to teach someone the interpersonal skills they need to get along with their team.
Your teamwork skills are to everyone’s benefit!
If you bring positive energy to the other members of the team, everyone will thrive.
- Are you patient?
- Do you know how to diffuse tension?
- Are you great at finding compromises when disagreements arise?
Put all of that in your cover letter or skills section. Give specific examples. Those people skills are rarer than you think.
#6: De-escalate Problems with Conflict Resolution
All effective corporate leaders must know how to resolve conflict. Don’t have aspirations to rise to the top of the ladder? It is still one of the most essential people skills.
Conflict resolution is about identifying solutions in such a way that does not isolate team members.
It is also one of the most challenging people skills to hone. Why? Because you must have the ability to help people compromise. And compromise, by definition, means giving up something you want (in part).
Listen to both sides of an argument and get to the core of what each person wants. There is a steep learning curve, but keep at it. You will develop incredibly strong leadership skills.
#7: Trust Your Emotional Intelligence
Navigating workplace relationships is much easier when you are in tune with your emotions. Work is work, of course. But that does not mean emotions are left at the door when you clock in.
Having emotional awareness is just one part of this, of course. Acting on it is where the real people skills come into play.
Maybe you walk by your colleague’s office and see them looking upset.
Instead of walking by, knock and see if they would like to talk. They may decline, but they may invite you in.
Turns out they feel incredibly stressed about meeting their share of the company’s goals this quarter. Your reaching out made them feel less alone.
Or perhaps you are leading a team meeting. You can tell that a colleague is basically bouncing off the walls.
Thanks to your emotional awareness, you have the ability to shift gears and check in with that person.
Turns out, they couldn’t wait to share incredible news with the rest of the team! They are grateful for your promptly acknowledging them so they could share.
Bonus: The New Normal: How to Engage Remote Employees in 10 Steps
#8: Demonstrate Mutual Respect for Everyone
Respect is one of the most crucial people skills there is.
If you want to get along with people, they must feel that you respect them. You may not necessarily agree with a person’s perspective, but you respect their right to hold it.
In a leadership position, demonstrate respect by asking your team’s opinions. Get people involved!
- Take action based on their needs. For example, is remote work best for their mental health? Respect that and find a way to offer remote work.
- Help your team foster healthy relationships with the workplace by respecting their boundaries.
- Honor their hours and do not contact them during their time off.
These items may seem like common sense, but I promise you that is not the case. In your cover letters, offer anecdotes about when you have shown respect to your colleagues.
#9: Find Common Ground with Negotiation Skills
Intercession skills are essentially interpersonal skills with specific regard to conflict resolution. They are a great addition to your cover letter!
As far as people skills go, negotiating is a hidden gem. Not everyone has the ability to use effective verbal communication to find solutions.
Let’s say two team members have opposing personal opinions on the next marketing campaign.
Want to stand out in a positive way? Help them identify the parts of their plans they find most important. Then, collaborate with them to negotiate a compromise.
It is easy to fall into the background when a disagreement arises. To step up and create a solution in lieu of conflict is a special skill.
#10: Show Empathy
You know the old saying, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? Well, this is actually one of the most vital people skills out there!
Empathy is all about understanding and sharing someone’s feelings. It is a useful tool for building trust.
Let’s say a colleague has been late to work every day this week.
It’s delaying your morning meeting and messing up your whole schedule.
When you speak to them about it, they share that their personal life is especially challenging right now.
Don’t say, “Well, leave that at the door! This is work!” Instead, meet them with empathy and offer support. Consider how you relate to their experience. Instead of reaming them out, focus on how you can help.
#11: Receive Constructive Criticism with Gratitude
Want to know a big secret to career success? Absorbing constructive criticism. It is one of the most underrated people skills!
Look, none of us are perfect. So why are we so uncomfortable acknowledging the places where we can improve?
The ability to meet feedback with an open mind and good manners will get you very far.
Not only do you demonstrate humility, you also allow yourself to absorb good advice! That is something to be grateful for.
Your career will grow and you will gain extensive experience in your field. And your path to success may have all been paved by one small piece of feedback. Wouldn’t it have been a shame if you allowed ego to get in the way of you hearing it?
You Are a Soft Skills Expert Now! Let’s Wrap This Up.
You should now have a better understanding of the interpersonal skills you need to be successful.
But remember to set realistic expectations for yourself. While you may be a natural at client interactions, you find it hard to remain impartial. It’s okay – practice each people skill!
Now, let’s review the various attributes and interpersonal skills you need:
#1: Actively listen to those around you.
#2: Express approachability through body language.
#3: Use communication skills to develop relationships.
#4: Stay authentic with interpersonal skills.
#5: Bring people together with teamwork skills.
#6: Deescalate problems with conflict resolution.
#7: Trust your emotional intelligence.
#8: Demonstrate mutual respect for everyone.
#9: Find common ground with negotiation skills.
#10: Show empathy.
#11: Receive constructive feedback with gratitude.
Keep Reading: 8 Ways to Organize an Agenda That Works for You
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.