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Last updated: 7 May 2024

Interpersonal skills in the workplace

Interpersonal skills, more commonly known as people or social skills are how someone tries to interact with others effectively. You need good interpersonal skills in most job roles, it allows you to work with colleagues effectively, as well as talk and facilitate customers/clients. 

Each person has their own individual traits and style when it comes to communication, often this matches their personality. Some people tend to be more successful at communicating than others, but it is something that can be adapted and improved over time. 

What factors can influence interpersonal skills?

Social and people skills can differentiate due to several factors, these include upbringing, where you’re born and the experience you have. 

Growing up can be tough, some people are very outgoing whilst others are introverted. If you’ve spent a lot of time by yourself as a child or teenager then your interpersonal skills as an adult might be affected. We also have to take into account the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ramifications it will have further down the line. Children missed out on months of socialising, to instead stay at home in isolation. 

Britain is a multicultural country, and workplace diversity is very commonly seen. According to the Migration Observatory, 19% (6.2 million) of the UK workforce at the end of 22 were born abroad. It’s important to remember that different cultures have different social boundaries, so you might find people of certain nationalities more outgoing than others.

Entering the workforce is intimidating, this often leaves new recruits feeling anxious and nervous. These feelings lead to workers being particularly quiet on the job, specifically at the start. As individuals gain more experience, their confidence should begin to shine, along with their interpersonal skills. The more experience you have in communicating, the better you are going to be at it.

Examples of interpersonal skills:

  • Clear tone of voice when speaking face to face, on a video call and phone calls.
    • Being fully engaged in the conversation by offering insight.
      • Show good body language through positive facial expressions, being sat upright if you’re on a chair and having your hands unfolded or out of your pockets.
        • Be attentive and listen carefully.
          • Empathic when talking with colleagues, customers or clients.
            • Take on board constructive criticism.
              • Build positive relationships with colleagues and clients.
                • Have an overall positive attitude when it comes to work.

                  Benefits of interpersonal skills in the workplace:

                  1. Increased productivity

                  If there is a communication barrier between colleagues, or between a member of your team and a client then this can be problematic. Not having a good understanding of someone will cost you time. Time in a lot of industries is very valuable, departments are already stretched as it is. Having good people skills will cut meeting times and make you more productive.

                  2. Increased trust

                  Having strong interpersonal skills gives line managers more confidence in your ability. More confidence equals more trust, meaning you might get increased responsibility in your role.

                  3. Better performance

                  Knowing your peers have faith in your ability will do wonders for your confidence. Confidence will then allow you to perform your role with less second-guessing, and more initiative.

                  4. Become a leader:

                  Managers need good people skills to get the best out of their team. If you can demonstrate that you communicate well with colleagues then that will show that you are manager material. Leading others comes with an increased rate of pay and a new job title which is fantastic for both your personal and professional life.

                  5. Grow a professional network

                  Communicating well with colleagues and clients will grow your list of contacts over your career. Getting on well with and being liked by people can lead to further opportunities down the road. It’s common for companies to headhunt candidates for high-paying roles, who have a good reputation in the industry.

                  6. Enjoy your work

                  Having a positive attitude when it comes to work can leave you enjoying it a lot more. The vast majority of us work five days out of a seven-day week, so liking your job is important for a happy lifestyle.

                  7. Better collaborative work

                  If your role requires you to work directly with colleagues, building good relationships can lead to better collaborative work. You’ll be able to plan better by making it clear who is responsible for each part of a task. It also allows you to share the expertise you have.

                  8. Happy customers and clients

                  Clients and customers can get annoyed by poor communication. So communicating well to build a professional relationship with them will work towards making them happy with your work. It’s much easier to report to someone who you get on with than to someone you have no relationship with.

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