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Interpersonal Skills: What They Are and Why They Matter

Bonny Calfy | July 17, 2020

Your resume shows what you’ve accomplished, but a great deal of your success, both at work and in general, is due to something a bit harder to describe: interpersonal skills.

You may have heard of them before, but can you clearly define what they are?

It’s OK if you can’t find the words – we often employ these skills unconsciously. Like the name suggests, interpersonal skills are techniques used to interact with the people around you. They are the subtle, yet important traits that shape our ability to get along with others.

These skills include, but are by no means limited to:

  • active listening
  • empathy
  • conflict resolution
  • diplomacy
  • adaptability

You’ve acquired them through your experiences with others. And while some people are more naturally adept at using them, they can – like any skill – be practiced and improved.

Why they are important

Your interpersonal skills are at work in every interaction you have, and reach into every part of your life.

In a non-work setting, you use these skills as you navigate relationships with your family and friends. Skillfully employing these techniques can enrich the interactions with the people who are most important to you.

Interpersonal skills are also vital when you get to the office. It’s unlikely that you work in complete isolation, so being able to effectively communicate and facilitate teamwork is essential to doing your job well. If you have hopes of moving up in your organization or becoming more successful in your chosen field, the power of strong interpersonal skills will be an integral component of the plan. If you can interact effectively with your co-workers and become the catalyst for improved problem-solving, it’s more likely your supervisors will consider you for a valuable promotion.

You’re not the only one, however, who benefits from your strong interpersonal skills. As a co-worker or leader, you’re modeling behaviors and setting the tone for corporate culture through your actions. For example, by actively listening to your co-workers during meetings, you encourage greater collaboration and contribute to setting a high standard for how a successful meeting should be conducted.

Managers showing empathy and providing feedback to their team is an essential way to increase organizational buy-in and reduce turnover. Extending into the marketplace, effective interaction is also key to providing high-quality customer service, developing prospective clients and attracting top talent while recruiting.

Regardless of the situation, these vital skills allow you to both hear and understand the people around you. Conversely, you’ll also be able to enjoy those same benefits thanks to your skillful communication. As you both begin to appreciate the perspective of others, you’ll find greater ability for collaboration and problem-solving, whether that’s planning a product launch or just organizing the next family get-together.

Mastering your interpersonal skills

Understanding the significance of rich and productive interactions is good, but how do you go about improving your interpersonal skills if you feel that there’s something you could do better?

Identifying the area in which you’d like to improve is the first and most important step. From there, you can search online for a variety of tutorials or exercises aimed at enhancing the specific interpersonal skill you’d like to strengthen.

There is no downside to having strong interpersonal skills – they’re a valuable asset to you at work and beyond.

See where your interpersonal skills can take you and apply now at!

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.