Anyone can master interpersonal skills and communication; however there are some people you and I know who are naturally good at it. For most people, it takes conscious effort and practice to master this skill, while for those who appear naturally good at it never seem to struggle. In today’s world, we are much more aware of instances of bullying, harassment, intimidation and threats. Sensitive people experience more intense emotions that are more easily aroused and that last longer than those who are not emotionally sensitive. We react faster with greater emotional intensity that lasts longer. Our emotional reactions can be triggered by television shows, magazine articles, places that trigger memories, anniversaries and other events. Interpersonal issues are one of the most challenging areas for us.
In my article today, I share with you on how to practice/ improve your interpersonal skills, but before i introduce you to the topic, it is important that we understand the meaning of interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are those pertaining to relationships with people. Interpersonal skills gauge how good you are at interacting with others. For example, the interpersonal skill of knowing how to respectfully communicate with someone is called “active listening.” Interpersonal skills are composed of many different important soft skills, which include:
- Problem solving
Working on interpersonal skills and ways to manage emotions in relationships can help you reduce the suffering you experience on a daily basis. Below are some of the steps you can follow to help you achieve interpersonal skills in your day to day life:
Self-awareness: it is important that you discover and know how best you currently communicate. You may seek feedback from a trusted friend or relative or professional colleague on your non-verbal behavior. This helps you to realise what you could be missing. If you fail to know, gather feedback from various places or even appraisals so you can know your strengths and weaknesses. Use the rest of this list to help with your self-assessment.
Keeping the other person in mind: For any instance involving interpersonal skills, you should plan out your approach with a certain person ahead of time. Considering the other person is always important. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what might be their mindset, sensitivities, and how they may receive your words. Effective interpersonal skills can only happen if you understand where the other person stands.
Determining your desired win-win outcome: The outcome of any conversation must be a “win-win,” but not all outcomes you desire are good for the relationship. For example, you may want to prove that you are right, but that would mean the other person needs to be proven wrong. You may win the argument, but lose the relationship. That is not a good outcome.
Listen as much as you speak: Effective interpersonal skills is a two way street. It is advised that one should spend at least 50% of the conversation listening. We are sometimes prepared so much that all we focus on is talking. You can lose the listener quickly that way. Pause after a few sentences so the other party can respond. That way you can adapt your communication based on how they react. Sometimes it takes fewer words than you think to achieve the “win-win” outcome.
Do not expect anything: You cannot control or change anyone else. This is an easy concept that is easy to forget. After all this work, you put into structuring an interpersonal skills, there is no guarantee about how the other person will react. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. All you can do is play your part the best you can, accept whatever you get, and adapt your actions from there.
At the end of the day, the key to effective interpersonal skills come down to practice. We interact with people every day. Some interactions can go well, while others may not. That is part of the process. As long as you put conscious effort into improving, you will become effective at interpersonal skills over time.
By Mackline Ampurira
Mackline joined BLEGSCOPE Team as an Intern and is now a Management Consultant Trainee. She previously worked with the Ugandan Ministry of Health in conjunction with (USAID) Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Team as a Research Assistant. She has interest in Marketing, Management and Human Resources. You can follow her on Twitter >>@mackampurira