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What Are Interpersonal Skills and Why Are They Important?

October 25, 2019
5 Min Read
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Ever noticed that some people just have an easier way of engaging others? They’re the kind of folks that other people just seem to gravitate toward, and you can watch them quickly build the type of meaningful personal and professional connections that are necessary to succeed. They seem to have strong natural interpersonal skills.

It isn’t magic, but it can seem like it when you assume this is a fixed trait.

Interpersonal skills are hard to measure because they’re “people skills,” or soft skills that you can’t learn easily from a book. Think you weren't one of the lucky fews to have been born with innate interpersonal skills? The good news is that you can still cultivate these skills and apply them to shape a better future for yourself.

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are the behaviors you exhibit when you interact with other people. They encompass a broad variety of both verbal and nonverbal skills that help you communicate effectively with others, share ideas, collaborate efficiently, and generally fit within a group, team, or company. The better your interpersonal skills, the more you will be able to contribute and connect with those around you.

Ultimately, your interpersonal skills can set you apart from others who have the same level of technical expertise. Interpersonal skills help you collaborate, get buy-in's, and bring out the best in other people on your team. In fact, it usually takes someone with great interpersonal communication to build a cohesive team in the first place, and it’s unlikely you will be promoted to more authoritative positions without them.

Interpersonal vs. Intrapersonal Skills

Discussion has been growing around the set of skills that are considered interpersonal vs. intrapersonal skills. So what’s the difference between interpersonal and intrapersonal skills?

Interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are highly related in that both are part of your emotional intelligence. Intrapersonal communication is kind of like a conversation that takes place within one’s own self, while interpersonal communication is all about communication with other people. Your intrapersonal communication, or self-awareness and introspection, can ultimately inform your interpersonal communications for the better.

List of Interpersonal Skills

So what are the most important interpersonal skills? At Matter, we've gathered the top interpersonal and soft skills that are critical to career and personal success. These soft skills can be just as important – or more important – than your technical skills when it comes to helping you adapt and succeed in an evolving economy. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it can certainly help point you in the right direction. Some of the most useful interpersonal skills include:

Why are Strong Interpersonal Skills Vital for Your Career?

Simply put, your interpersonal skills can make or break your career, regardless of how talented or technically skilled you are.

When you exhibit traits that make other people warm up to you and want to work with you, you'll be able to increase team's efforts and create value.

The ability to work well with others and keep people motivated can open the door for advancement and promotion because you’re demonstrating your leadership abilities. Ultimately, your ability to relate to your peers and adapt to changing circumstances will help you create a happier work environment while allowing you to mitigate trivial frictions that might otherwise exist.

How Interpersonal Skills Lead to Interpersonal Effectiveness

Your interpersonal interactions constantly change your relationships with other people. Every interaction you have with others can help or hurt those relationships.

Naturally, communication is better when people have a good relationship. People with great interpersonal skills know how to find and build on commonalities with all kinds of other people in order to build a healthy dynamic. They’re team players who can direct the action from within by adjusting their communication tactics based on the situation and the response from others. In essence, they know how to work well with people.

When you improve your interpersonal skills, your emotional intelligence increases. Your relationship bonds with others strengthen, making future communications even easier.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

Interestingly, the intrapersonal skill of self-awareness is key to unlocking the full potential of interpersonal skills. Being self-aware during your everyday interactions with others and also how others react to you is vital to your interpersonal skills development.

The problem, so often encountered, is finding out how much your internal vision of yourself matches up or misaligns with the vision others have of you. Without regular feedback, it’s impossible to set actual goals for improving your interpersonal skills, measure your progress, and figure out how to improve.

The good news is that you can always ask for feedback. Most people are willing to share their thoughts and perceptions if you ask them. You can’t develop your interpersonal skills until you first find out where you excel and where you need to improve.

After receiving feedback, you can ask for clarifications and hone into the set of skills and abilities you need to improve. You can use this information to guide your self-growth in the ways that are most important to your success.

Why Regular, Continuous Feedback Is Vital

You can’t work on something if you don’t know if that it's an area that needs improvement. However, getting feedback weeks, months, or even a year after your last interaction with a peer isn’t really helpful either. By then, the moment is no longer fresh in either of your minds and you can’t take specific lessons from that feedback.

Matter allows for constructive, continuous feedback in a 360-degree loop that can help professionals of all kinds understand how they’re seen by their peers. This continuous feedback cycle allows you to make micro-changes in your interactions with others and then quickly determine if you’re on the right track toward your goals.

If you’re ready to up your game and want to improve your career and make work more productive and pleasant, check out Matter.

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