What are Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the skills used by a person to interact with others properly. In the business domain, the term refers to an employee's ability to get along with others while getting the job done. Interpersonal skills include everything from communication and listening skills to attitude and deportment. Good interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization.

1:45

Interpersonal Skills

BREAKING DOWN Interpersonal Skills

"Interpersonal skills" can't 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 demeanors and positive, solutions-oriented attitudes.

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, since it relies on paying attention to the actions and speech of others and interpreting it 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 life experiences and knowledge.

Interpersonal Skills in the Job Search

Many job seekers try to demonstrate interpersonal skills in their interviews or on their resumes, knowing their importance to success and productivity in several fields. 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 sales, marketing, law, and customer service, among other fields. Additional desirable interpersonal skills include public speaking, conflict management, team building, and collaboration.

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 individuals can take to hone their interpersonal skills include expressing appreciation for team members and support staff, practicing empathy, moderating disputes quickly so they don't get out of control, and planning rather than saying or writing the first thing that comes to mind. Active listening can be practiced by repeating back to a speaker what she has said to make sure true communication is taking place. There are also classes and trainings that aim to teach these skills.