Having years of experience and a plethora of business knowledge will only get you so far in corporate America. In order to be successful both in your personal career and to contribute to the success of your organization, you must develop strong interpersonal skills along with your technical skills. Many people think it’s only necessary for doctors and nurses to have good bedside manner. However, it’s equally important for professionals in any field to exhibit this type of respect and empathy for those around them.
Having a team with strong interpersonal skills can help improve efficiency, productivity, and also improve how well your team works collaboratively together. From the conversations you have daily, to the emails you send your coworkers, lacking interpersonal skills can negatively impact your team. When referring to interpersonal skills, we are referring to the following:[i]
- Verbal Communication
- Non-Verbal Communication
- Listening Skills
One of the best ways to develop strong interpersonal skills at work is to always remain professional. While it’s important to show your colleagues that you care about their personal life and what interests them outside of work, it’s important to understand the line of professionalism. Additionally, it’s important to not be over emotional in the workplace.[ii] Although you may develop friendships with your colleagues, it’s important to keep your emotions professional. Remain calm in stressful and exciting situations, and your colleagues will view you as a stable coworker.
Maintain an Overall Positive Attitude
Regardless of the challenges you or the organization are facing, try to maintain a positive attitude on a daily basis.[iii] Just as a negative attitude can be contagious, a positive one can transfer to others as well. Being positive while at work will help you create stronger bonds with your coworkers and bring positive energy into the workplace.
Another way to strengthen your interpersonal skills and relationships is to show empathy.[iv] Be empathetic to those around you. When solving a problem, put yourself in other people’s shoes to understand other perspectives. In problem solving, this will help you come to a solution that benefits all parties involved. By understanding the perspectives of others, you will be better equipped to successfully interact and build relationships with your colleagues.
Exhibit Emotional Intelligence
The way you deal with or approach one coworker may be entirely different than the way you interact with another colleague. In order to develop strong interpersonal relationships at work, you must exhibit a high level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as, “skill in perceiving, understanding, and managing emotions and feelings.”[v] Having this skill in the workplace can significantly strengthen your interpersonal skills and relationships. Make an effort to understand the personalities and emotions of those around you, and tailor your approach to best fit the situation.