The Importance of Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace

Develop your interpersonal skills, and in turn, your career.

Reviewed by Hayley Ramsey

Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace concept

In personal communication, thoughts and emotions are expressed verbally and nonverbally in various ways. It enables interaction with people and understanding what they say in personal and professional situations.

Language and diplomatic skills are necessary for effective communication with colleagues and superiors. Managers often rate interpersonal skills as one of the most fundamental skills an employee can have.

As someone who has first-hand experience managing and nurturing teams, I can confidently affirm the enormous value employers place on an individual's ability to interact and communicate effectively. Employers and managers frequently observe and reward candidates and workers with strong communication skills.

So let's dive right into the importance of interpersonal skills that will benefit your employment, work relationships and overall career success. I've also included some actionable tips to develop them.

Why interpersonal skills are important

Whether a business is booming or lagging, interpersonal or soft skills are imperative. Well-developed interpersonal skills can help ensure your effectiveness and protect your job during uncertain economic conditions. It might not seem like an easy task, but building interpersonal skills in the workplace can make it much more enjoyable and, more importantly, helpful. 

Here are ten benefits of improving your interpersonal skills and the effects it can have on the business and your team.

1. They foster effective communication

Having strong interpersonal skills is critical to becoming an effective communicator in any organization. Building relationships with colleagues facilitates the sharing of knowledge and information and the development of new skills and capabilities. Strong communication skills also reduce miscommunications and potential strife stemming from misunderstandings.

Further, this encourages mutual respect and appreciation of each other's viewpoints and contributions. By establishing effective communication, jobs can be completed more efficiently, activities can be managed more effectively, and assignments can be completed more quickly.

2. They keep the feedback loop open

Business owners and managers want a dynamic workplace that can react quickly to internal and external circumstances.

The exchange of information between those who assign jobs and task recipients is vital, and supervisory feedback might reveal if the employee's performance is satisfactory or if improvements are needed. If a manager does not communicate with subordinates and then criticizes them, this is counterproductive and can lead to an unhealthy relationship between management and employees.

3. They expand your opportunities

The workplace should be able to adjust quickly to internal and external factors. Managers and employees should be engaged in continuous communication to ensure both parties' overall satisfaction and growth. Often, workers ask for feedback after completing an assignment, including praise or criticism.

Characteristics and feedback loops are endless cycles, and supervisors should be able to communicate with their subordinates effectively and foster an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. Similarly, employees should feel comfortable communicating with their superiors, which will lead to stronger relationships and the possibility of advancing your career in the future.

4. They make you relatable

The ability to interact with others significantly enhances your chances of being viewed as approachable by coworkers and managers. Your coworker will feel more comfortable working with you and look to you for advice and assistance more often when you make a conscious effort to improve your interpersonal skills. 

Furthermore, employees become more pleasant to work with, which allows you to engage with them in a more meaningful way and, consequently, increase overall organizational productivity.

5. They demonstrate social awareness

The development of good interpersonal skills demonstrates your concern for the well-being of your colleagues and clients, and as a result, you win their trust and faith. Despite professionalism, lives outside of work will inevitably influence the work environment. 

A good sense of observation and emotional intelligence, for example, can assist you in dealing with a tough social situation. Interpersonal skills can also help you make the best judgments and decisions when dealing with sensitive work-related scenarios and will improve your customer service significantly when it comes to dealing with clients.

6. They improve customer satisfaction

If your career involves dealing with customers or clients, interpersonal skills are something that should be a priority. Everybody knows that customers’ expectations are high, and if communication breaks down between the customer and the company, then things go downhill fast. Improving your interpersonal skills could increase sales, encourage negotiations and leave customers feeling satisfied with the service they’ve received.

7. They build trust

The American Psychological Association statistics indicate that 34% of employees lack confidence in their superiors. An inadequate degree of openness can lead to disenchanted employees and a lack of loyalty. Strong interpersonal skills make it easier to inspire confidence and trust, meaning the relationship with your coworkers and superiors will flourish.

8. They help foster and maintain personal relationships

Building meaningful connections with others is when interpersonal skills are most effective, helpful, and gratifying. Developing personal relationships at work is essential and maintaining them within professional boundaries is a welcome skill in the workplace.

To maintain these connections, individuals will need to demonstrate a variety of elements, such as consistency, follow-through, and a sense of empathy. Maintaining interpersonal ties at your workplace is most effective when you are seen as honest, trustworthy, and approachable.

9. They make you an effective leader

To be a successful leader — whether it’s for a superior role or just showing leadership skills within a team — an individual must establish interpersonal relationships, develop trust, and communicate effectively. 

A lack of communication means a lack of connection within a team. If you don’t communicate effectively, you’re almost certain to fail in the long run, which will ultimately cause team members to leave or create a lack of productivity.

10. They encourage empathy

Empathy is a vital characteristic of successful leaders. Forming strong connections with your coworkers will be much easier if you know what may be preoccupying their minds inside and outside the job.

Employees come from all walks of life, and each one has their interests, challenges, and struggles outside of work. Workers who understand them are more likely to become loyal, feel more motivated, which is critical to productivity and teamwork, and they will ultimately have more constructive conversations.

Aside from their ability to establish connections, excellent interpersonal skills substantially impact group performance and the level of engagement and effective cooperation within a corporate setting.

How to improve your interpersonal skills

Establishing improvement goals and engaging in positive communication can help you improve your interpersonal and communication skills. Here are some tips to help you:

Determine what areas you need to improve: You can identify areas of communication that need to be improved by seeking feedback from your colleagues, supervisors, family, and friends.

Learn from others: Study your coworkers, company leaders, and professionals you admire and respect to develop strong interpersonal skills. Watch and listen to their communication style as well as their body language. Note their voice tone, speech rate, and how they react to other people and see how you can apply these qualities when interacting with others.

Establish emotional self-control: Do not talk to colleagues until you have regained your composure. Maintaining a positive attitude and staying calm will enable you to communicate confidently and effectively.

Final thoughts

To wrap things up: Take a moment to reflect on how you could have responded differently or used certain words or body language more effectively in your place of work. Try make a note of the positive interactions, too, so you will understand why they worked. Keeping even a mental note about your conversations and interactions at work could prove helpful going forward. This can improve your handling and communication in certain situations. 

Put your interpersonal skills to the test by interacting with people in situations where developing relationships is possible. Attend events to see how others communicate and behave

For example, you could join a group that hosts meetings and social events, such as one focused on a specific industry you discovered through a professional organization or one focused on a common interest or hobby. 

A good level of interpersonal communication can help you succeed at work (and in life!), develop positive relationships with your colleagues, and manage team projects effectively. Strong interpersonal skills can positively affect your team and department, impacting morale and productivity.

Let me know if you've found that improving your interpersonal skills helped advance your career in any shape or form? What did you find was the biggest benefit? Leave a comment in the section below!

This is an updated version of an article originally published on 7 June 2019.