Interpersonal skills involve how well you communicate and interact with others around you. They are the face-to-face leadership skills, listening skills and conflict-management skills that allow you to be an effective team player and productive member of the company. When hiring managers are seeking candidates with the right level of self-confidence, assertiveness, dependability and work ethic that fits the company’s needs, interpersonal skills are one of the top criteria they use to evaluate job seekers.
Regardless of your job title or industry, you must be able to get along positively and productively with coworkers, managers, customers and other industry associates. Interpersonal skills are a vital part of work and professional success, whether you’re an entry-level professional just starting their professional journey or a seasoned professional executive looking to advance their career.
The importance of interpersonal skills can be summarized with the following:
To see interpersonal skills in action, visit our resume examples page.
Relationship-building skills are key people skills that will help you go a long way in your career. Knowing how to foster good professional relationships in the workplace can help you learn new skills, create a supportive network of professionals who you can reference later and contribute to your team effectively.
A great way to start developing this important interpersonal skill is by showing a genuine interest in the coworkers you interact with regularly. You can show your genuine interest and appreciation of others by utilizing effective communication skills, such as active listening, maintaining eye contact and displaying positive body language.
Do you know how to work well with others? Hiring managers and recruiters highly value people who can collaborate with each other to meet deadlines, goals or complete projects. Being able to sit down and brainstorm with your coworkers, motivate your team members and work together can make any work environment a positive one.
If you need to polish your collaboration skills a little, start by finding at least one good trait in every coworker. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table, so make sure to find it in everyone you interact with and make them feel appreciated for it.
Interpersonal communication skills can be divided into two main categories: verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Good communication is the ability to effectively tell other people a message, be it through written words or face to face, without causing misunderstandings. You can speak clearly, concisely and inform others of any updates while at work.
The first step to better your communication skills is to learn how to listen. Give your team members your undivided attention during meetings and be mindful of how you respond, choose your words carefully and use an appropriate tone.
Conflict management skills are the ability to mediate and achieve a consensus during disagreements. They’re useful in nearly every job and industry but it’s an interpersonal skill that’s particularly important if you’re in a position of leadership or working in customer service.
If you want to work on your conflict resolution skills, start by being an impartial active listener. Disputes are common in work environments, so learn how to properly listen to your team members and understand why they feel the way they do.
Being a dependable employee means that your co-workers and supervisors can count on you to get the job done and help when needed. Dependability also extends to your work ethic. Do you arrive on time to your shift and to meetings? Do you continuously meet deadlines? These are all factors that add to how dependable you are as an employee.
To become a dependable team member, learn how to work on your own without needing constant supervision or follow-ups and finish your tasks. You can also offer to help our coworker if you notice they might need an extra hand.
The thing about this interpersonal skill is that you don’t need to be in a leadership role to possess it; some people are naturally good at being leaders and mentoring others. Having leadership skills means that you can rally your coworkers or team members together to reach a common goal, you know how to motivate the people around you and lead them by example. It’s a good interpersonal skill to have, especially if you want to grow into a managerial position.
You can perfect your leadership skills by going to leadership training where they teach you how to be a better leader. You can also start by respecting your coworkers and acknowledging their expertise. A good leader sees the strengths in others and encourages them to grow.
Empathy is a powerful interpersonal skill. At its base, it’s the ability to understand someone else’s emotions and other peoples’ points of view. Empathy allows you to support other people through hard times, improve someone else’s mood and identify another person’s emotions without them necessarily having to tell you.
Like any skill, empathy requires practice but also vulnerability. For a coworker to open up about how stressed out or anxious they are, you must also be open to share your own feelings and opinions. Being culturally sensitive is also key. Not everyone grew up the same way or with the same traditions, so keep an open mind and be mindful of how you react or what you say.
Are you persuasive? Do you know how to negotiate a budget increase or lower supplier flees? Then hiring managers might be interested in your negotiation skills. It’s a good skill to have, especially if you work in industries like business or finance; though don’t be surprised if you also use these skills in customer service or even health care.
The first step to bettering your negotiation skills is to be more confident. Practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. You might also want to combine your negotiation skills with your communication and relationship-building skills.
Work might get stressful and some days will be better than others, so it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. It might sound cheesy but you would be surprised by how much a negative attitude can bring down team morale and affect your work environment, performance and relationship with others.
Take a deep breath when things get stressful or when you have a disagreement with a coworker. It’s essential to control your emotions and maintain a positive outlook.
No interpersonal skills list would be complete without respect. Respect should be at the core of every social interaction you have in the workplace, be it during a negotiation while mediating a conflict or building relationships with your coworkers. To respect someone is to see them as a valuable member of your team and most importantly, a human being.
Similar to empathy, open-mindedness and cultural awareness plays an important role in respecting others. Keep in mind that not everyone comes from the same background and that versatility makes a team stronger.
Here’s how to write a resume that highlights interpersonal skills:
1. Practice active listening. A good communicator is a good listener. Instead of listening just to respond, listen to understand, process the information that has been given and then formulate your response.
2. Lead with a positive attitude. Positivity really does make a difference in every work environment. When you lead others with a positive attitude, you increase team morale and keep team members motivated.
3. Practice maintaining an even keel in difficult or unfavorable situations. Sometimes things don’t go our way — that’s life — so it’s important to stay level-headed and have a high level of self-awareness. Work on how you manage stress and learn how to self-regulate your emotions so they don’t get the best of you when the going gets tough.
4. Be responsive to others’ needs and team tasks. Each person on your team is responsible for different things, be aware of their time, what’s on their plate and ask them if they need help if you notice that they might be in a pinch.
5. Show empathy to everyone you interact with. You don’t know what the other person is going through, so stay friendly and respectful of others, even if they say something you don’t agree with.
6. Show genuine interest in the people you interact with and the duties you perform. Hiring managers and recruiters want to hire job applicants that truly want to work and will make an effort in being part of the team. Show interest in your peers and your job, it will go a long way.
7. Maintain genuine, respectful relationships. Greet your coworkers when the shift starts and ask them how they are doing. You don’t need to have a deep conversation or tell them your life story, being genuine and friendly in passing interactions leaves a good impression on others.
8. Be firm and assertive yet open and approachable enough for others to interact with you. While this applies to everyone, it is a specially important reminder for people in managerial or leadership positions. You want your team members and employees to respect you without being intimidated by you. It’s crucial for them to know that they can count on you.
9. Take courses and get certifications related to interpersonal skills. If you still feel like you need extra help improving your interpersonal skills, sign up for a course. A quick Google search should show you plenty of leadership training courses, as well as collaboration, negotiation and networking courses.
Interpersonal skills are a category of soft skills, they’re universal. Meaning that this skill set can work across multiple jobs and industries. That being said, there are a few interpersonal skills that tend to be desired the most across the board, such as:
Some good interpersonal skills to list on a resume include:
Interpersonal skills are essential for communicating, working and relating with individuals in your personal and professional life positively and productively. They play a crucial role in your career growth, so if you see yourself growing in your industry or want to get promotions, it’s important to polish your interpersonal skills to build better professional relationships.
You might have the hard skills necessary to do good work, but are you a good coworker? Are you a dependable employee? Can you effectively communicate with others and collaborate? These are all factors that contribute to your success.
As with most skills, practice makes perfect. Interpersonal skills are not necessarily learned on the job — like hard skills — but exposing yourself to new opportunities can really help you polish skills such as communication, leadership and negotiation. Be open to talking t your team members and engaging in professional work relationships.
You can also develop interpersonal skills through training. There are plenty of websites that offer courses on leadership, collaboration, negotiation and networking.
The most-sought after interpersonal skills are:
It’s important to remember that the best interpersonal skills to have will depend on the type of job, but generally the three interpersonal skills mentioned above are highly valued across most jobs and industries.