How to Improve Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace

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As we’ve headed back to offices around the world post-pandemic, interpersonal skills are as important as ever. When it comes to basic elements of interpersonal communication, the various types of possible communication will cluster under four basic categories: verbal, listening, written, and non-verbal communication. In this blog, we’ll explore practical ways to improve interpersonal skills in the workplace

Curious why we’re talking about interpersonal communication in the workplace when we focus mostly on children and families? Check out our corporate course coming soon where we discuss how to deal internally with difficult people at home or in the workplace. In the meantime, see our full list of available courses here

What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Understanding interpersonal skills are the first step to mastering their proper application in the workplace. Verbal skills include communication through speech. Speech is the most common form of communication used to build and maintain relationships, so it’s important in a workplace to effectively communicate with one’s colleagues, employers, and employees.

Listening skills include having the ability to listen effectively to another person’s opinion. This is a critical factor in a workplace where there are many ways to do things, and allowing others to be heard gives them a feeling of validation and respect, which would only build up their morale between colleagues or an employer and his employee.

Written skills include being able to communicate well with others through writing, be it a letter, text, email, or other forms.

Non-verbal communication includes body language. Our body language can speak volumes, having the skill to convey empathy or assertiveness with our body movements. An employer's straight, confident posture can make more of an impression on his employees about who is boss than any contract would do. And a smooth, collected facial expression from an employee at an interview could make more of an impression than his impressive resume.

9 Tips to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace

Now that you better understand interpersonal skills let’s talk about practical tips to improve your interpersonal skills in the workplace. 

1. Cultivate a positive outlook. Teach yourself to be positive by reminding yourself daily of the good things about your life and job. If you’re upset about a personal matter, set those feelings aside until after work. If you’re stressed about a work issue, look for the positive in the situation and try to build on that.

2. Control your emotions. Work isn’t the place to be overly emotional. Whether you’re extremely irritated, severely depressed, or ecstatically happy, take a deep breath and tone your emotions down. Always express yourself in a calm, patient manner. Coming soon…learn more about how to control your emotions in our upcoming corporate course!

3. Acknowledge others’ expertise. One of the best ways to build trust at work is to let your co-workers know you appreciate their expertise. Ask for their help on projects and give credit where credit is due.

4. Show a genuine interest in your colleagues. You work side-by-side with your colleagues for eight hours every day; it’s only logical that you’ll learn something about their lives. Make a point of getting to know what’s important to your co-workers. It will help solidify your relationships with them.

5. Find one good trait in every co-worker. Not all of us, like every single person we work with, but you can’t let personal preference get in the way of peak performance. If a colleague’s personality clashes entirely with your own, the best way to handle the situation is by finding at least one good trait in that person—preferably something professional. 

6. Practice active listening. In the allBusiness article “Ten Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills,” the editor's advice is practicing active listening. You can do this by maintaining eye contact with the speaker, nodding your head, and repeating what they say in your own words. The speaker will feel respected, and you’re likely to be able to recall the conversation more easily afterward.

7. Be assertive. According to the HelpGuide.org article “Effective Communication: Improving Communication Skills in Your Work and Personal Relationships,” it’s important to be assertive. Be confident in your ability and opinions, and don’t be afraid to express your needs and limits.

8. Practice empathy. Gain a well-rounded view of things by putting yourself in other people’s shoes. This will help you develop empathy for others, which in turn goes a long way in finding solutions that work for all involved.

9. Maintain your relationships. Connect with college friends and former colleagues on social media or through email; try to set up face-to-face meetings now and then.

This shows your connections that you still value the relationship—and that can go a long way in helping you advance your career.

Discover Resources to Improve Interpersonal Skills

By better understanding interpersonal skills, we can work to improve weak points in a practical way. BLOOM offers more than behavioral therapy and does more than treat the symptoms.

At BLOOM, we offer resources to help adults with their emotional needs at home or at work. Founded by occupational therapist Miriam Manel Frankel OTR/L, BLOOM provides video toolkits, blogs, and free online resources for proven strategies to help struggling children and their families. To learn more about how BLOOM, book a discovery call today.

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