Interpersonal skills

Developing Good Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are all about your relationships with people. These skills are an indicator of your ability to mix with people from all walks of life.

Very often, we find that we lose out on a good opportunity in work or social interactions because of one particular person or a group. We get hurt and question ourselves about where we went wrong. Most of these failures in interacting with a group occur because of our failure to communicate effectively. We are unable to get our viewpoint across because we lack communication skills, are reluctant to express our real feelings and thoughts and are diffident about taking a strong stand. We may also go to the other extent and behave abrasively and be rigid and not accept another person’s point of view.

What is of prime importance when making a contact with another person whom you have met for the first time or a person with whom you have interacted with in your workplace or social circle is ‘active listening’.

Interpersonal skills are necessary when you are engaged in:

  • Conveying ideas through verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • When you are engaged in problem solving and are trying to find solutions at work, in your social interactions like the PTA or consumer groups, or at home.
  • When you attempt problem solving through negotiation. When viewpoints are exchanged, understood and a compromise is reached, then you can come to an agreement by accepting another person’s solution or persuading them to accept yours. Finally, the resolution may be between these two stands.
  • Both when you are a mentor and guiding somebody, or taking a lead role and helping others by setting an example or taking a decision, interpersonal skills come into play. You cannot be seen to be a tiger snarling away and terrorizing people. You have to be a lion and demonstrate that you are the king or queen of the jungle and will accept all other viewpoints too. The final decision you take has to be expressed in such a way that it is acceptable and serves the organization’s interest.
  • Relationships at work and home. Empathy and teamwork in the family and workplace to achieve what is best for all the stakeholders is important for a stress-free and harmonious life.

Remember that these skills and practices need time and patience. If you sustain these skills, it will become a habit. Here are some pointers to developing interpersonal skills:

  1. Active listening skills are important for all conversations and dialogues.
  2. Let people know that you appreciate them by praising them. This acts as a motivation whether it is your child, household help, co-workers or a taxi/auto driver.
  3. Smiles and a positive outlook help to bridge any kind of gap in social circles or professional hierarchies.
  4. Body language, an important aspect of communication, includes grooming, manners and etiquette. When you stand straight and are ready to welcome somebody, the reaction is positive. Have you ever felt comfortable with slouches?
  5. Share a coffee or a cuppa tea with co-workers and see how they react. Bring a treat into the office occasionally and share and you will earn many brownie points.
  6. At home, make it a point to have a regular routine of family time to touch base with your spouse/partner, kids and parents and find out what is happening in each other’s lives!

Plan a strategy and take it one step at a time. To automatically improve your interpersonal skills, just visualize how you would like to be treated by others. Then, you will not go wrong.

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Padmini Natarajan
Padmini Natarajan calls herself Dame Quixote for she is forever tilting at windmills! A storyteller, poet, columnist, blogger, editor and journalist, she has specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. She has worked for over 15 years as Part-time Language Editor and Writer of manuals, curriculum textbooks and other material with an E-education organization, EZVidya/Chrysalis that is aimed at empowering Teachers, Students and Parents. She taught Vedic Heritage at Kalavardini to children from the ages of 3 to 14 and written and directed skits and plays. She won the Gourmand Special Jury Award in Paris in 2009 as co-author of ‘Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine’. Her book of short stories - ‘Crossroads: Stories from South Indian Lives’ - has good reviews on Amazon. Padmini has been concerned with paying it forward with her involvement in organizations like Sneha, a suicide prevention NGO, Canstop, Cancer Support group and many women’s organizations. Her other passion was acting, on stage, TV and screen. She is a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff, a music maniac who listens to Golden Oldies and has a strong Facebook presence. Nowadays she is an armchair activist and world traveler from the safety of her home. Quite the hypochondriac, she is exploring spiritual enlightenment through Vedanta and loves to spout philosophical thoughts to unwary audiences.