Labour Relations Blog

Take your interpersonal skills to the next level

In today’s blog, I am going to talk about interpersonal skills, a vital set of skills that enable us to get along with colleagues, work efficiently in teams and are essential in solving problems that may occur in the workplace.

Interpersonal skills are also among the most sought-after qualities when it comes to job promotions and leadership positions so there is no doubt that having these skills can lead to a great range of career advancement opportunities.

The first step towards developing effective interpersonal skills is being self-aware. This means knowing your own needs, values, emotions and their impacts on your behaviours; and having the ability to manage them. Paying attention to your temperament, how you interact with people, your body language and your reactions when you are angry will help you evaluate your character and manners and how they may affect people around you.

Similarly, it is worthwhile to develop an interest in understanding your colleague’s feelings – i.e. “putting yourself in their shoes.” If a colleague tells you something important, contemplate how you would like to be treated if you were in their position. Think about how your words might affect your colleague before speaking. Showing empathy towards someone can lead to developing trust and bonds which are useful for working in a team and for collaboration.

In addition to empathy and self-awareness, communication plays an important role in displaying good interpersonal skills. Speaking clearly and using simple language helps the person with whom you’re talking to grasp the message more easily. Similarly, try to ensure that your words match your body language and the tone of your voice; otherwise, your audience may confuse or misinterpret your message.

It is also worth adopting a friendly approach when talking to your coworkers. It is surprising how a friendly tone, personal question or even just a smile can encourage your coworker to engage in open and honest communication with you.

Open communication also includes taking care to avoid interrupting when someone is talking to you. Listening to someone while suspending judgment shows that you care about what they have to say. Wait for the speaker to finish or pause to ask for clarifications instead of jumping to conclusions.

Another way to show interest in the conversation is by maintaining eye contact with your coworker. Communications experts recommend looking into the other person’s face (focus around the mouth) for a few seconds, then shifting your focus somewhere else, and so on. That way, you maintain eye contact without awkward staring.

It is also essential to be polite and respectful in your interaction with colleagues by letting them know that you value them and appreciate their help. For example, when asking for help or assigning a task to your team member, adding a sincere “please” or “thank you” will make them feel encouraged to perform the task.

Conversely, negative expressions and feelings such as swearing or using an angry tone can make individuals come across as violent or threatening. If you find yourself dealing with a difficult colleague like this, it is recommended to keep calm and address the issue through administrative channels instead of engaging with this coworker.

Last but not least, it can be useful to ask for feedback to make sure your message was correctly received. You can achieve this by giving your colleague the opportunity to ask questions at the end of your conversation or asking them probing questions to make sure they weren’t listening passively.

We hope these tips will help you improve or refine your communication skills with colleagues. If you run into an issue in your workplace don’t hesitate to contact Vivian Gates at vgates@acfo-acaf.com or another Labour Relations Advisor at labourrelations@acfo-acaf.com.

 

Vivian Gates
Labour Relations Advisor

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