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Tips for Developing Effective Interpersonal Skills

written by: Tricia Goss • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 12/20/2010

Whether you are a CEO, the newest employee or somewhere in the middle, you can benefit from developing effective interpersonal skills. Not only will you be able to communicate your ideas and wishes more clearly, but you will better understand those of others as well.

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    Overview

    Meeting 

    Very few people have careers that do not require that they communicate with others. Even if you go days without speaking to colleagues or clients, you converse with family, friends and neighbors. This means that everyone can benefit by gaining effective interpersonal skills. While we all develop these skills during childhood and hone them over a lifetime, you can make a conscious decision to change and improve yours at any time.

    Effective interpersonal skills enable you to become a more valuable employee, a well-respected leader and will improve your personal relationships as well. Work on becoming proficient at one or two characteristics at a time. Before long, they will become second nature.

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    Always Show Respect

    If you want others to respond to you in a positive manner, you must treat them with respect even if you disagree with or have a personality clash with that person. When you disagree with an opinion or idea, voice your thoughts and feelings without degrading the other person. Avoid raising your voice or allowing a dispute to escalate to an unprofessional level. Agree to disagree, take a break to cool off and resume the discussion at a later time.

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    Learn How to Listen

    Listen actively. Face the person speaking to you and keep your eyes on them, not on your computer screen or a report. Repeat what that person has just said in your own words to confirm that you understand correctly. If you did not, allow the speaker to clarify what he is trying to convey. Active listening will eliminate misunderstandings and even persuade others to open up to you more.

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    Be Brief

    Speak Briefly 

    When it is your turn to talk, think about what you are going to say before you speak. State your opinions and ideas concisely and clearly. Avoid overexplaining yourself, as this may cause you to seem unsure of yourself or pushy. Speak calmly and confidently without being condescending.

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    Be Nice

    Wear a Smile Practicing kindness and understanding will help you develop effective interpersonal skills quickly. Wear a smile. Not only will it instantly improve your own attitude but it will also make you seem more approachable and boost the moods of those around you. Let others know you appreciate their hard work and assistance. Have a sense of humor and bring levity into meetings and discussions. Empathize with your colleagues, forgive simple mistakes and treat others as you would like to be treated.

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    Keep Commitments and Confidences

    When you schedule a meeting or promise to complete a task by a certain time, be there or make the deadline as you said you would. If someone speaks to you in confidence, whether it is work-related or personal information, keep this information to yourself unless doing so would be harmful to others. Once your coworkers, managers and loved ones learn that they can always depend on you, they will be willing to go that extra mile on your behalf whenever you need them to.

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