What are interpersonal skills?

When someone has strong interpersonal skills they have a knack for getting to know people. They often make friends easily and always say the right thing at the right time.

In the business world, an example is the people management skills a leader demonstrates when they're running a company.

Interpersonal skills are important at every level, regardless of seniority. If a person has strong interpersonal skills, it has a halo effect on their team or colleagues. The opposite, however, is also true.

15 interpersonal skills that will make you better at your job 

Here are our top-rated interpersonal skills. Many employers offer opportunities to grow these skills via a secondment, or through a course.

1. Self-confidence

Don't confuse self-confidence with arrogance. Confidence takes many forms and isn't about shouting the loudest.

Confidence comes from within and is a feeling of assurance, which employees experience when they are great at their jobs and work well with others.

Being confident helps with career progression as it motivates people to grow in their roles, or areas of expertise.

2. Verbal communication

Try to speak clearly and eloquently, and be mindful of the professional environment — what is appropriate to say in the home or with friends, may not be in the office.

That said, positive informal conversations are essential for forming friendships, so shouldn't be discouraged.

Now informal chats are different from gossip, and managers should promote an open communication policy, to prevent gossip from taking hold. Developing an employee relationship management strategy is one way of implementing this.

3. Non-verbal communication

According to several studies, 75% of what people say is conveyed through non-verbal communication, such as tone of voice, eye contact, and body language. These cues can either reinforce or contradict what is said.

Collaboration – interpersonal

4. Positive attitude

A positive attitude can make a boring or repetitive task, more tolerable, however, the effect is only temporary. Nevertheless, positive employees — intentionally or not, boost morale and productivity.

A negative attitude however can undo all the good work of a positive one. Consequently, organisations must be transparent and candid with their teams, especially when morale is low.

Moreover, employees must be given an outlet to voice their concerns otherwise their discontent could harm employee happiness and engagement.

5. Empathy

When people have high empathy they are in a better position to understand what others are feeling. This could relate to how they explain a task, for example, clear instructions to one person may not be for another.

On a more emotional level, empathetic employees are more likely to reward effort and give credit when it's due. They are also very skilled at delivering constructive feedback.

6. Listening skills

Workers who practise active listening, make excellent communicators. They attentively listen to what people say and offer thoughtful and considered advice. Because of this, they tend to show more empathy and are very capable of building strong relationships.

Interpersonal skills – listening

7. Openness to feedback

Feedback good or bad, helps an employee progress in their job. Moreover, creating a feedback-friendly culture is essential in any organisation that wants to prioritise growth and innovation.

This is sometimes easier said than done, especially if a business lacks the infrastructure to collect and analyse employee responses on an organisational level.

Additionally, if an employee needs more training to take them to the next level in their career, providing the necessary tools — or budget for a course is something to consider.

Feedback is only useful if it can be acted upon, and if an employee does not have access to resources to improve, they won't have a good experience.

8. Reliability

If managers and colleagues can always count on that one person to deliver that's great. However, it's important not to diminish the importance of reliability at a departmental or c-suite level.

What we mean by this is that managers need to keep their promises and more importantly not make them in the first place — if they are unsure they can keep them. Employees often leave their jobs because they are fed up with nothing changing, for example, a promotion that is always promised but never delivered.

Develop a wellbeing strategy for remote and non-remote workforces with this helpful guide

11. Conflict resolution

While it is best to avoid conflict altogether, from time to time disputes arise and mediation skills are essential to ending heated disagreements.

Someone with good mediation skills demonstrates active listening and can offer unbiased advice, based on the arguments they are presented with.

Depending on the nature and severity of the dispute, some employees may rely on these skills more than others, for example, those in HR, or department leaders.

12. Assertiveness

Assertiveness is sometimes associated with aggression. Yes, some people can be aggressive while being assertive, but aggression is not what being assertive is about.

An assertive person believes in themselves and wants to demonstrate to others that their point of view or idea is worth listening to. The best way to do this, however, is with a solid argument and lots of evidence. Not shouting and talking over people.

13. Collaboration

Effective teamwork involves knowing when to stand back and be supportive, and when to show initiative and lead. A good team player tends to demonstrate values, such as empathy, respect, and reliability.

The ability to effectively collaborate with others is a sought-after skill in organisations and those who work well with others are often highly regarded.

14. Leadership skills

Everyone likely has some leadership qualities about them, even in environments where this isn't immediately obvious. For some, this could look like organising a social. For others, it could be taking charge of the tea run rota.

Either way, employees don't need to be leaders to demonstrate leadership skills. Sometimes behaviours are more nuanced and just because someone has not properly demonstrated these skills, it could just mean they haven't been given the opportunity.

Leadership and conflict skills

15. Sense of humour

All employees value someone with a sense of humour. And no, this doesn't mean cracking jokes every ten minutes. Having a sense of humour is a demonstration of emotional intelligence. Often, people who can make others laugh and feel at ease can also take the tension out of difficult situations.

9. Respect

Manners go a long way, as does showing appreciation to colleagues. People show respect in many ways, for some it's more verbal and for others saying thank you is easier with a card or over email. Either way, employees, managers, and directors alike should always feel respected.

10. Negotiation skills

Negotiation is a vital skill in any role, whether or not it is directly part of a job description.  Good negotiators listen and apply creative problem-solving skills to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

Now don't get this confused with manipulation, negotiation is about presenting an argument and using evidence to demonstrate to someone why, for example, something is worth investment.

Respectfulness – interpersonal skills

Develop interpersonal skills with an employee experience tool

When someone is a great team player you should let them know. Likewise, if a leader has inspired their team to do better, show them your appreciation. Using an employee experience solution can make this easier, as you can reach every employee no matter where they're based. 

Often, an employee experience solution will include a reward and recognition program, so employees can recognise each other on the go from a mobile app. This functionality is also great for managers who also have the option to allocate rewards.

Learn more about how Perkbox can help you develop interpersonal skills in your organisation

Interpersonal skills: your FAQs answered

What are the 4 types of interpersonal communication?

The four categories of interpersonal behaviour include: verbal, aural (listening), written, and non-verbal communication.

Developing skills in these behavioural categories will help you excel in your own role. They're also important if you want to lead a team. Fortunately, these skills aren't just something you're born with. Although some people pick them up quicker than others.

Other words for interpersonal skills are soft skills, or people skills. Most of the time, those with strong people skills also tend to communicate better in their personal lives. So the benefits extend beyond the workplace.

What is meant by strong interpersonal skills?

How important are interpersonal skills in the workplace?

Perkbox helps you foster a positive culture of feedback and communication

Perkbox helps you create a culture of feedback and communication.

  • Get your teams pulling in the same direction
  • Boost productivity and employee engagement
people having coffee
Back to top