In business this term is often used to refer to the measure of a person's ability to operate within a business organisation through social communication and interaction: communicating with respect for people within the workplace facilitates a reduction in conflict and encourages increased assistance in obtaining information or completing tasks. Judith Gordon-Drake of Lifeline gives us handy tips to improve our interpersonal skills.
by Judith Gordon-Drake
For more detailed information about LifeLine Johannesburg’s LifeSkills Corporate Training programmes, speak to Judith or Ami on (011) 728-1331 or at email@example.com
The world is experiencing an economic meltdown and South Africa is fighting back a recession. In this stressful climate, good interpersonal communication skills: listening and responding effectively become even more important attributes than usual and their value must never be underestimated. Interpersonal skills are skills relating to interactions between individuals. It is vital not to discount the importance of interpersonal skills in the workplace. How you are perceived by your manager and co-workers plays a large role in issues from as minor as your day-to-day happiness at the office and to as major as the future of your career. No matter how hard you work or how many brilliant ideas you may have, your professional life will suffer if you cannot connect with the people who work around you. The good news is that there are several concrete things that you can do to improve your social skills and become closer to your colleagues. All of these tools will ultimately help you succeed in today's working world. The following are some tips that can help improve your interpersonal skills:
Smile. Few people want to be around someone who is always down in the dumps. Do your best to be friendly and upbeat with your co-workers. Maintain a positive, cheerful attitude about work and about life in general. Smile often and the positive energy you radiate will draw others to you.
Be appreciative. Find one positive thing about everyone you work with and let them hear it. Be generous with praise and kind words of encouragement. Say thank-you when someone helps you and make colleagues feel welcome when they call or stop by your office or desk. If you let others know that they are appreciated they will want to give you their best.
Pay attention to others. Observe what is going on in other people's lives. Acknowledge their happy milestones and express concern and sympathy for difficult situations such as illnesses or deaths. Make eye contact and address people by their first names.
Practice active listening. To listen actively demonstrates that you intend to hear and understand another's point of view. It means restating, in your own words, what the other person has said. In this way you know that you understood their meaning and they know that your responses are more than just lip service. Your co-workers will appreciate knowing that you really do listen to what they have to say.
Bring people together. Create an environment that encourages others to work together. Treat everyone equally and don't play favourites. Avoid talking about others behind their backs. Follow up on other people's suggestions or requests. When you make a statement or announcement, check to see that you have been understood.
Resolve conflicts. Take a step beyond simply bringing people together and become someone who resolves conflicts as and when they arise. Learn how to be an effective mediator. If co-workers bicker over personal or professional disagreements, arrange to sit down with them and help sort out their differences.