Why Interpersonal Skills Are the Key to Your Success
What makes you like one person over another?
What’s the difference between a guy who gets a raise and promotion, and the guy who gets ignored when he asks for the chance to increase his income?
Why are there some people that you’d happily go to see day in and day out… while there are others that you’d rather not deal with at all?
What makes all the difference in these different scenarios are interpersonal skills. They may not seem important, but the reality is that developing your interpersonal skills is the key to your success.
Have You Noticed? You’re Already Using Interpersonal Skills
Whether you pay conscious attention to them or not, we use interpersonal skills every day when communicating and interacting with other people.
Interpersonal skills, also known as soft skills, involve communication, such as listening, questioning, and reading another person’s body language. They also include what is commonly defined as emotional intelligence, or being able to understand and manage your own and other’s emotions. And when it comes to working with a team, negotiating, persuading, influencing, and resolving conflicts - those are all interpersonal skills too.
We’ve been developing these skills since childhood. And unless you’ve done programs like Speech and Debate in High School, chances are you haven’t consciously worked on them.
Take stock of areas that you might want to develop. Here are some questions to help guide you:
- Do people feel that you’re a good listener?
- Are you thinking of what you’re going to say next, while the other person is talking?
- Do you know how other people in a group feel about each other?
- Can you have difficult conversations and confront someone?
- When other people around you become emotional, can you see their position?
- Can you clearly express your ideas in ways that others can easily understand?
- Can you quickly and easily get along with people you’ve just met?
No Matter What You’re Doing - You’ll Need People to Rise to the Top
No one gets to where they are without someone else making a decision about them. And as frustrating as it may be, where you are currently is not solely based on your hard, technical skills. It has just as much to do with your soft skills, if not more.
That’s because in every area of your life people have formed their impressions about you. It starts with base reactions about whether they respect you, whether they can relate to you, and ultimately, these get summed up into whether or not they like you.
Plain and simple - people do more for their friends and those they like, than those they don’t. So the better you are with people, the more people will do for you - including everything from small favors, to big promotions.
But the good news is that because these are all skills, every single one of them can be honed and perfected. In fact, there are a few simple changes that can have a big impact. To begin with, try these two exercises.
Focus On How YOU Are Feeling
Any moment you can, get a journal and write about how you feel. Were there any situations involving other people that you wished could have gone better? What about them did you feel could have gone better?
What do you think was stopping you from acting how you wanted, compared to how you actually did? What could you have done instead, that would have made you feel confident about the situation?
The best way to develop your interpersonal skills with others is to focus on yourself. When you can confidently identify how you’re feeling, you’ll dramatically increase your ability to relate with others.
That’s because situations are different - but emotions are universal.
You might get anxious or nervous, feeling like you have to say something incredibly brilliant or smart in a group meeting. That can be the exact same anxiety or nervousness that your colleague feels when doing a task they aren’t comfortably proficient in. Different situation - but the same feelings.
Next, try this exercise.
Focus On the Other Person
It can seem overwhelming to all of a sudden focus on learning a wide range of skills that you haven’t developed before. But like anything else - it all starts with a single step.
So the next time you talk with someone - instead of worrying about what you’re saying, what your body language is, how you look in that moment, etc... Focus on one thing: the other person.
Say what they’re saying back to yourself silently, in your head. Do you understand why they said that? What might they be feeling? Did they just make a joke?
If you don’t know the answers to these, simply ask the other person!
And in the process of shifting your focus onto them, you’ll stop worrying about yourself. They’ll feel you genuinely paying attention to them. And in turn, they’ll like you more for it.
Interpersonal skills can often be ignored in favor of developing hard, technical skills. But as the saying goes, “It’s not the grades you make, but the hands you shake.” Once you put your focus on them, you’ll find that it’s easy to make progress in interpersonal skills - since you deal with people everyday. And you’ll find that developing your interpersonal skills will accelerate your success like nothing else.
Your Next Step
I’ve developed an email course consisting of some of the exact exercises I have my clients do. This will increase your self-confidence, strengthen your relationships, and help you make better decisions. To help you continue to develop your interpersonal skills, enter your email address below and sign up now.