Developing people skills takes effort
Are you wearing a sign that says “enter” or “exit”? If you have good interpersonal skills, people naturally gravitate to you. If you’re feeling isolated, don’t despair, because it is possible to improve your interpersonal relationships. The qualities used to build solid friendships are also the qualities used to construct positive interpersonal relationships in the workplace.
One characteristic of a person skilled in interpersonal relationships is empathy. Empathetic managers and employees express to others a sense of understanding and compassion. One manager who understood empathy well, showed it in a simple way. His employees often expressed to him their work frustrations, career disappointments and even their family problems. All his employees got the impression that he really understood how they felt. His secret was that he would listen intently. He said virtually nothing, but his attitude said a lot. He gave the employee his undivided attention and nodded in understanding. However, he never let the employee or himself off the hook. He gave the problem back to the employee with the challenge to solve it. He would ask, “What are you going to do?” and “What can I do to help you get what you want?” He showed compassion and understanding, but never pity. This is empathy.
Being able to laugh at yourself is one of the greatest talents interpersonally skilled people have. It shows others you take responsibility for your mistakes. Revealing some of your human frailties, opening up and sharing your personal self, all contribute to solid interpersonal relationships. It’s important to remember that hurtful sarcasm or put downs are never funny, even when they are about yourself.
Basic common courtesy at work also helps to build strong relationships. Courtesy behavior tells others you are thinking of someone other than yourself. It also says you are treating others as you wish to be treated and shows you are an approachable person. Try a simple sincere “good morning” or offer to got a co-worker a cup of coffee as you pour your own.
One of the greatest compliments a person can receive is that they are fair and can be trusted. To earn the trust of others, you must demonstrate that you will be honest and that you have their self-interest in mind. Words usually aren’t enough. Only action – your action – is what really matters. Trust must be the core of interpersonal relationships.
People at work often say hurtful things that undermine interpersonal relationships. Always think before you act or speak. Try analyzing the person with whom you are working or talking with so you don’t put your foot in your mouth. Learn what they like or dislike and what may offend them. You will than be able to predict better how people will react to you.
Like any skill, interpersonal skills must be practiced daily in order to be perfected. Make a conscious effort each day to be empathetic, courteous and trustworthy. Also be willing to laugh at yourself. These efforts will be rewarded by positive interpersonal relationships.