Interpersonal skills are an intangible aspect of corporate culture that affects all aspects of the business, from leadership to customer service to team collaboration. Interpersonal skills are the link between whether a company will fail or succeed, from the customer-facing level all the way up to the highest echelons of management.

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are the behaviors and tactics a person uses to interact with others effectively. It is the communication between two or more people that enables them to work together and come up with solutions that are mutually equitable and leave both parties feeling valued. This involves verbal and non-verbal communication, the construction of messages, the ability to understand others’ behavior, and other social interactions.

Examples of Interpersonal Skills

While there are many soft skills that are included under the umbrella of interpersonal skills, here are a several leaders who excel at it:

Empathy and Inclusiveness

Translator was founded after the company’s CEO, Natalie Egan, came out as transgender, and realized the essential need in business for empathy. Translator says that it is their mission to “spread empathy and equality at scale.” Designing tools that create a bottom-up approach to diversity and inclusivity, the company is fostering an environment in companies where marginalized employees can express themselves without fear.

Spread empathy and equality at scale

-Mission statement of Translator

Influence

When Mary Barra took the reins of General Motors, the company was faced with a crisis: a defect had caused the deaths of hundreds of drivers and passengers. But rather than make excuses, she decided to be an influence for good. She recalled 30 million vehicles. Using this influence she said that she “never want to put this behind us. “I want to put this painful experience permanently in our collective memories.” This action changed hearts and minds in the company and in the minds of their customers, enabling them to overcome a troublesome period.

Communication

When Indra Nooyi was made CEO of PepsiCo, she made a concerted effort to improve her communication skills. “You cannot over-invest in communication skills – written and oral communication skills,” she said at a women’s leadership conference.

Listening and Leadership

When rising to the rank of CEO of YouTube, Susan Wokjcicki admitted that she needed to do more than just lead, she needed to do more listening. She said her job was “to hear what’s not working so you can make it better.” YouTube has been listening to consumers, YouTubers, and employees all over the world, leading to a platform of 1.5 billion users. Continually keeping her ear to the ground, and listening to users and creators, she has been able to adapt the platform to stay a step ahead of strong competitors.

As you get more senior, your job is to hear what’s not working so you can make it better.

-Susan Wokjcicki, CEO of YouTube

Storytelling

Built on a wealth of stories, from Snow White and Mickey Mouse to Star Wars and Marvel, it is of little doubt that Disney knows how to use storytelling expertly well. Walt Disney built the company on his stories, both on the silver screen and appearing in every home Sunday nights to introduce the Wonderful World of Disney. He made his stories into events, introducing The Pirates of the Caribbean ride on TV for all to see his glorious new ride, and selling investors on the idea to fund his never-before-imagined Disneyland.


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