The meaning of the phrase ‘interpersonal skills’ are the skills we use to interact with others properly. In business, this phrase is generally used when seeking an employee with a strong ability to get along with others to complete a job. In recent years, the importance of interpersonal skills has grown in a person’s career.
In an age of data and technology, when most are connected globally to friends or “tribes” via cell phones and social media, the importance of interpersonal skills has been given new life.
The growing demand for workplace etiquette
Our interpersonal skills (aka. people skills) speak volumes about who we are as people. People, in general, will form an impression of you based on your ability to communicate.
If you are viewed as someone who cannot communicate, you will be viewed as incapable of learning workplace etiquette. Ignoring the importance of interpersonal skills can lead to a shorter lifespan in a job or not getting hired at all.
Everything you do tells a story about you
Even the most open-minded, open-hearted individual cannot escape human nature. The way we stand and make eye contact tells others how to evaluate your professionalism.
You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you present yourself to your co-workers, boss, or hiring manager in a way that says, “Leave me alone”, they will give you what you appear to be asking for.
More so, how you dress may be accepted by others. But if you appear to be ignoring how your outfit makes others feel, they very well could start to think you do not care about the way they feel. You may be accepted for being different, but if you are ignoring others’ feelings, they will believe you do not understand the importance of interpersonal skills. You are alienating yourself from the company’s culture.
The importance of interpersonal skills for interviews
Those with general people skills never have to worry about the knowing the following:
- When to talk
- When to stop talking
- When a job interview or meeting went well or badly
- When it is time to change the way one is communicating
- How they are making others feel while they speak
- People’s boundaries
Using an example
A guy walks into an interview at a tech company dressed in a suit. He gets some looks from others and he knows the looks are not positive. The company is one of the largest in the world and he wants to impress. As he looks around the office, he notices everyone is dressed in t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. He also notices some of the workers appear uncomfortable by his well-dressed presence.
Now, this guy understands the importance of interpersonal skills. Before he is greeted by a receptionist, he quickly leaves the office and heads to the bathroom. Luckily he has been through this before.
He wants the job but knows he misjudged the company’s culture. So, he takes off his suit jacket and tie. He stuffs it in his bag and changes into a nice pair of jeans. He decides it would be best to do this interview dressed “business casual”.
Luckily, he was prepared. There are so many types of business cultures these days and he grew up in a time where everyone wore suits to work. Times have changed and he wanted to be prepared for anything. The interview went well and led to a 2nd round interview.
Top 10 Most Important People Skills
Those who have a grasp of the importance of interpersonal skills possess the following skills:
- Relationship managing (aka. the difference between friends, being friendly, and courtesy)
- Strong work ethic
- Perceptive (almost empathic)
Above all, they know the importance of when to apply each one.
The secrets to learning general people skills
One must talk with people in front of them. And it also helps to travel. There are some who believe disconnecting from technology is a good way to learn the importance of interpersonal skills. But the reality is technology is used as a form of communication. All new technology demands a new way of communicating and it has been this way since the invention of the telephone in the 1800’s.
Therefore, one must learn to communicate with people, face to face, and through screens. Simply being good at only one style of communication sets limits on the number of interpersonal skills you can learn.
If you would like to read more on ways to communicate either in person or on LinkedIn, be sure to check out the Find My Profession blog.