Article contributed by Dr. S. K. Singh, COO, Amrapali Institute of Hotel Management
Interpersonal Skills also known as ‘people skills’ are nurtured with time in individuals and are very important in today’s professional world. These are the qualities that influence the way in which a team member communicates with other individuals within the team. These skills are important for communicating and working within groups and individuals in the personal and professional life.
People with strong interpersonal skills tend to build good relationships and can coordinate well with others in their personal and professional space. These skills help individuals to understand family, friends, colleagues and clients well. People often enjoy working with colleagues who have good interpersonal skills. It’s important for team players to communicate well within team with seniors and colleagues, with clients and with customers when on the job.
Without interpersonal skills, one may struggle to convey messages or receive messages while working the way it’s required to be. If there is misunderstanding of what is communicated or misinterpretation, it can result in communication barrier, leading to mistake and decrease in the overall productivity of the organisation. These skills not only benefit the workplace but are also very important for an individual to achieve his personal goals.
Most of us are natural flows with the interpersonal skills and some need to re-associate themselves with them.
Let’s relook at the different types of interpersonal communication skills that are particularly significant for the betterment of the workplace.
It deals with the speech clarity, appropriateness and confidence to handle a situation and helps to communicate effectively with others. Words need to be uttered with utmost care and in a correct tone and vocabulary.
A formal and professional tone has to be developed during meetings and presentations. Using right, simple and appropriate language to explain things or while taking to clients or customers is necessary. Asking questions to clarify information is always better than misunderstanding a dialogue.
The ability to pay full attention to someone when they speak and to truly understand what they are saying is what Active Listening is. The understanding and listening to a speaker is expressed through their verbal and nonverbal responses. This includes maintaining proper eye contact, nodding to ensure the understanding and smiling for encouragement and involvement. An observation of the body language of speaker along with asking questions and responding to answers by discussing further reflects active listening to the conversation with interest.
To communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings at work, ‘Active Listening’ becomes very important. It not only allows further understanding the information or instructions given within a team but also encouraging the colleagues to share their ideas and collaborate in the discussion.
We often hear that Body Language makes 55% of our communication and other important part is Voice Tone. Our posture, expression and gestures can say more than our words. When communicating with colleagues and managers or juniors, one must practice open body language to encourage trust and positivity. So what is this open body language? It includes nodding, maintaining eye contact, smiling and being relaxed. On the contrary closed body language such as crossed arms, impatience and shifting the eyes is a negative action.
The ability to recognize emotions in others and to understand other people’s perspectives on a situation is Empathy. It enables us to use that insight to improve someone else’s mood and to support them through challenging situations. Empathy, also known as emotional intelligence, is the ability to understand others’ emotions, needs and ideas from their point of view. It increases trust, respect, awareness and compassion when communicating within a team or as an individual with others. It help’s in making an environment positive and gives no space to misunderstandings thus reflecting positively in productivity.
So we can understand that our interpersonal communication skills can help us to resolve issues and disagreements in the workspace. Skills such as negotiation, persuasion and understanding help us to see an argument positively and to resolve it. Having good conflict resolution skills can result in positive and collaborative work environment.
Organisations where employees can communicate and work together have a better chance of success and achieving the common goal. Seniors within teams can use their interpersonal skills by involving the team in positive discussions when needed and by asking them for their feedback and ideas. They should respect opinions or advice, listen to them empathetically and respond positively. So a team with good Interpersonal skills is an asset to any organisation.
So let us now understand how to improve interpersonal skills:
Improving Interpersonal Skills is all about practicing; the more one practices the better you they are. One should have a plan to develop inter personal skills and set daily goals for improvement. To improve your interpersonal skills, consider the following tips:
- Figure out what you need to improve and plan how to improve it – Take routine feedback on your improvements from peers.
- Learn to control your emotions – Always be calm and composed, try to remain positive never get stressed.
- Watch others – How others communicate, how they use their body language and not just get inspired but practice the same things.
- Reflect on your interactions – Keep writing about the positives of the interactions you had, the new vocabulary you heard and used, keep repeating the good things.
- Practice your skills: Practice is the key to success so keep participating in events and activities. Keep challenging yourself by doing so.
- Acknowledge others – Your friends and colleagues are your biggest support on the way to learning so acknowledge their support every time and may be more than that.
- Avoid distractions – Life today is full of distractions be it be your mobile or a friend keep them away while communicating with others.
- Take online classes – During this pandemic we have learnt how to use technology for betterment so enroll in online seminars, workshops, classes or trainings.
- Get a mentor – A mentor is a real life coach who not only guides you but supports in reaching your learning goal so get a good mentor at the earliest.
- Record yourself – Start enjoying in listening to yourself, now days we have wonderful tools to do so, start podcasting or become a story teller to yourself.
So start the journey of learning and grab opportunities that can help to improve these embedded Skills.