On a scale of 1 to 5, managers rate the importance of having good interpersonal skills at 4.37, just below the ‘ability to work in teams’ (which obviously comes in at 4.49). In all seriousness, though, there's a reason why they are so valued; even though most workplace business is now conducted through instant messaging software, it's still necessary to possess verbal and diplomatic skills in order to work effectively with your colleagues and/or bosses.
Therefore, interpersonal skills are crucial. Below are ten reasons that demonstrate why they are so important, as well as a few tips on how these skills can help you navigate the workplace, increase productivity and potentially advance your career.
10. Fostering Effective Communication
Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful business, and to be a good communicator, you need interpersonal skills. They are necessary for the establishment of relationships between yourself and fellow workmates, which leads to a mutual exchange of ideas, information and skills.
Furthermore, you establish mutual respect and consideration for one another’s opinions and input. Communication conducted in this manner enables the performance of duties, management of tasks and timely completion of assignments.
9. Keeps the Feedback Loop Open
Most companies attempt to create a dynamic workplace, which adapts quickly not only to internal but also to external variables; an important component for this to work is an open and constructive feedback loop. If you are unfamiliar with the term it is essentially the communication that happens between a task-giver and a task-completer. During the process, as the person performing the task completes steps, they may ask for feedback from the supervisor that gave them the task. The supervisor then either tells the employee or person that they are doing well, or to make appropriate adjustments. This cycle or “loop” is then repeated. The reasons why a feedback loop might break down are multiple but undeniably linked to interpersonal skills:
- Not being approachable
- Not being present both mentally and physically
- Lacking good communication with your subordinates
An extremely damaging behaviour that is very frequently seen is allowing the task to be completed and then giving the person feedback afterwards, especially if they asked for feedback previously and were denied it. It can affect productivity, morale and the quality of work produced. There is nothing worse than a person pouring hours of labour into a project only for a supervisor to come and tear it all down.
8. Expands Your Opportunities
Through connections with managers and fellow workmates, you’re able to gain more exciting opportunities in the workplace and your field of interest. If you make a good impression on your bosses, for instance, then they’ll be in a position to give you good references or even bump you up to a higher position with more responsibilities and perks, which is an advantage for your professional development.
7. They Make You Relatable
With good interpersonal skills, your colleagues and even your managers positively perceive you as an approachable person. Coworkers are more comfortable interacting with you when seeking your assistance and advice. You’ll find that people become easier to work with, and you can engage with them more meaningfully, making your productivity levels more fruitful.
6. You Show Social Awareness
Your interpersonal skills show when you have an interest in the well-being of co-workers and customers, and their best intentions at heart, gaining their trust and confidence. A keen sense of perception helps you through various social situations, for instance, where you’re required to work as a team. It also helps you make the right judgment calls and decisions about sensitive work-related issues.
5. Increases Credibility and Customer Satisfaction
You show dedication to customer service and support when you’re able to interact well not just with your coworkers, but with your consumers. Diplomacy is imperative because you use it to represent and market on behalf of the company you work for and your employer. Customers see that you don’t compromise on productivity, that you are aware of their needs and are willing to act on their queries and listen to their input on the products and services that you offer.
4. Transparency Creates Trust
According to the American Psychological Association, a whopping quarter of employees in the U.S. do not trust their employers and only about 50% of them believe that their bosses are open with them. A lack of transparency can result in disenfranchised employees and disloyalty amongst the workforce.
If your team feels that not only do they do not have a say in the company’s activities, but that decisions (like hiring and firing) are also made without any warning, then they are likely to seek other forms of employment. The stress of potential abrupt joblessness can create a lack of trust in administration and their decisions, while even employees that aren’t on a constant hunt for a new job will inevitably be working at diminished capacity due to the chronic stress.
3. Fostering and Maintaining Personal Relationships
Interpersonal skills become much more effective, beneficial and rewarding when they foster meaningful relationships. Not only is it important to build personal relationships in the workplace, but it is also important to maintain these relationships within professional boundaries. Maintaining these relationships can prove to be even more challenging than creating them, as it involves multiple variables like consistency, follow-through and continued empathy. The best way to maintain interpersonal relationships in the workplace is to make them sincere.
2. They Make You an Effective Leader
If you take a look at most lists or articles which talk about interpersonal skills in the workplace, the titles could’ve been easily “characteristics necessary to be an effective leader”. The ability to foster interpersonal relationships, establish trust and communicate clearly are all crucial skills for an effective leader. A leader without the ability to connect with his/her team will inevitably fail, or lose valuable members of that team resulting in the loss of productivity or burdening other employees with the work left behind.
1. Use Empathy to be a Better Leader
As this article already mentions, empathy is a critical characteristic for a leader. Knowing what might be preoccupying your employees, both inside and outside work will help you create a powerful connection with them. Ultimately each employee is a person, with their own lives outside the confines of a workplace and their own sets of challenges and tribulations. Understanding them will create loyalty, boost morale (which is especially instrumental to productivity) and facilitate communication.
Aside from establishing relationships, excellent interpersonal skills greatly influence group performance and motivates the amount and effectiveness of teamwork in the company. In a workplace, you need to be able to relate with others to optimise on productivity. Good interpersonal skills are held with high regard in the corporate world and help you stand out in a milieu of routine job seekers with mediocre skills or qualifications.
Do you think that your interpersonal skills need to be improved? Let us know in the comments section below…