What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are the qualities and behaviors a person uses to interact with others properly. In the business domain, the term refers to an employee's ability to work well with others while performing their job. Interpersonal skills range from communication and listening to attitude and deportment. Strong interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization.

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Interpersonal Skills

Understanding Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills cannot be learned solely from a textbook. They come naturally to some people, while other people have to work at cultivating them. In many organizations, employees with strong interpersonal skills are valued for their pleasant demeanor and positive, solution-oriented attitude. These employees are team players, who work well with others to achieve a goal.

Interpersonal skills relate to the knowledge of social expectations and customs. Individuals with these skills consider others' reactions to adjust tactics and communication as needed. Some describe interpersonal skills as social intelligence, which relies on paying attention to the actions and speech of others and interpreting them correctly as part of forming a response. While these skills are based, in part, on an individual's personality and instincts, they also develop with experience and knowledge.

Interpersonal Skills in the Job Search

In this competitive job market where interpersonal skills are so highly valued, job seekers should use every opportunity to show their interpersonal skills, such as at interviews and on resumes. Among the interpersonal skills often required in business are active listening—the ability to elicit and fully process information from a speaker—and negotiation, a skill that is useful in fields such as sales, marketing, law, and customer service. Additional desirable interpersonal skills include public speaking, conflict management, team building, and collaboration.

Strong interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization.

Improving Interpersonal Skills

While many people believe interpersonal skills are, to some extent, innate in each person or acquired at an early age, job seekers and those looking for promotions can take steps to improve their interpersonal skills and make themselves more valuable to an organization.

Steps for improving interpersonal skills include expressing appreciation for team members and support staff, practicing empathy, moderating disputes quickly to contain them, and planning rather than saying or writing the first item that comes to mind. Active listening can be practiced by repeating back to a speaker what they said to make sure true communication is taking place. There are also classes and training that teach these skills.

Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace

In this competitive marketplace, businesses seek to employ those who not only have the proper experience and knowledge but have strong interpersonal skills that fit well within a company's culture. Strong interpersonal skills, such as negotiating, problem-solving and knowledge-sharing, are the main job requirement, as employees must be able to work well with others to achieve company objectives. Interpersonal skills may also include:

  • Teamwork
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Dependability
  • Responsibility
  • Empathy

These interpersonal skills can lead to productivity and success and, therefore, contribute to your company's growth.

Key Takeaways

  • In the business domain, interpersonal skills refer to an employee's ability to work well with others while performing their job.
  • Among the interpersonal skills often required in business are active listening and negotiation.
  • Job seekers and those looking for promotions can take steps to improve their interpersonal skills and make themselves more valuable to an organization.