Define Interpersonal Skills

Define Interpersonal Skills

Author: Catherine Pulsifer, ©2017

How do you define interpersonal skills? The answer to this question is a must know for both those wanting to enter into an organization or for those seeking a promotion into a leadership role.

Definition Of Interpersonal Skills

One definition of interpersonal skills means that set of abilities that enables a person to interact positively and work effectively with other people. Or, another definition is the ability to communicate or interact well with other people. Now that we know the definition, what do these definitions really tell us?

The Importance Of Interpersonal SkillsThese skills are not singular in nature meaning that one skill is intertwined and co-dependent on one or more other skills taken together. The vital point to understand, however, is that each skill is one that not only can separate you from the crowd of those seeking to enter into an organization or for those who wish to assume a leadership role but also to highlight that each of these interpersonal skills is applicable to everything you do no matter where you work, live or to whom you relate.

Twelve Essential Interpersonal Skills

The following list of the twelve essential types of interpersonal skills represents those that are highly desirable in any organization:

1) Verbal communication
2) Non-verbal communication
3) Active listening; customer service
4) Encouraging; empathy
5) Problem-solving; collaboration
6) Decision-making
7) Creative thinking
8) Leadership; conflict management
9) Respect
10) Responsibility; accountability
11) Sensitivity
12) Team Building

Verbal Communication

Verbal skills refer to the extent to which a person can approach words, sentences, written texts verbs, adjectives, as well as, the extent to which he/she can comprehend meanings, know the meaning and use of words, complete sentences with relevant words to declare meaning based on the word context and have a critical view towards written speech.

Non-Verbal Communication

Nonverbal communication between people is communication through sending and receiving wordless clues.It includes the use of visual cues such as body language, distance and physical environments/appearance, of voice and of touch. It can also include eye contact and the actions of looking while talking and listening, frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate.

Encouraging Empathy

To be encouraging and to show empathy is combined to mean:
– the act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen
– something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident
– something that makes someone more likely to do something
– the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Problem Solving, collaboration

The definition of problem-solving means the process or act of finding a solution to a problem and/or to see if one can figure out what to do. One method of problem solving is the involvement of others, as in team members, as in to utilize the ability of others to enhance or expand an individual’s ability to arrive at a solution.

Decision Making

Decision making is the act or process of deciding something especially with a group of people. It is the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternative possibilities. Every decision-making process produces a final choice. Decision-making is the process of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values and preferences of the decision-maker where the “decision makers” may be a team or an individual.

Creative Thinking

A way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions. Creative thinking can be stimulated both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, and by a structured process such as lateral thinking.


Leadership is a function wherein a person actively engages in guiding a group of people to accomplish a specific task or undertaking. Leadership is the direct opposite of managing that implies the control and direction of from one person over and above all others. Within this leadership role is the obligation to help to or assist with the resolution of personal or organizational or visionary conflicts that impede the workings of a team or group of people.

Respect, Sensitivity, Team Building

One of the first keys is to adapt to every person knowing that each person is there own being and not subject to your thoughts of how they should and shouldn’t act, think or communicate. After all, we are all individuals on this earth and it is the differences that make the world much more interesting and varied. How boring would it be if everyone conformed to what you want or desire. It would be a terribly static world where nothing new or different would ever evolve.

The elements of respect for the person, showing sensitivity that demonstrates the worth of each person, and the ability to build up each person to enable them to be an integral part of a team highlights the combination of interpersonal skills that encourage all people rather than behavior that tears down.

Active Listening Skills

Another vitally important attribute along the road to wisdom in interpersonal success is to listen well, or what should be understood as active listening. This means that you pay total attention to those that are speaking to you and not barging into the conversation because you want to insert your opinion. It is not about you when you are a real listener – it is about what the other person is saying. If you do not listen, you are really saying it is more about you than the other person.

Communication Skills Combined

The person wants to understand that communication is not just about using the right words. There are also non-verbal aspects to any communication. For example, if you do not look the person in the eyes when you are speaking to them ensures that you really do not want to engage in conversation with them, or if you cross your arms while speaking shows an underlying hostility, or, one of my favorite, if you tent your fingers together conveys a air of arrogance and conceit.

Eliminating Conflicts

Another important aspect to any level of communication is that of the fear of conflict. To avoid conflict is to avoid an aspect of human emotion that may mean the difference between understanding and ignoring important issues. Not everyone knows how to present his or her passionate ideas in a non-threatening manner so one should be able to accommodate this passion by allowing expression as long as it does not mean any verbal abuse. Through conflict can come growth and understanding of others’ needs and desires. It is up to you to see beyond the conflict and find the jewels to clearer thinking and action.

Putting It All Together

The hallmark attribute to wisdom in interpersonal skills is that of being known as a positive thinker and doer. This does not mean that you never see that a problem is visible; it means that you are more prone to be solution oriented rather than dwell on a problem and cannot see beyond it. One of the best qualities you can work towards is to always put your energy into looking to see what action can be taken to overcome obstacles. With this kind of attitude, you will also see life in a robust way not in a cynical way. This behavior is key to building first class teams no matter what type of organization you work within or lead.

Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:

“So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener.” Dale Carnegie

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Yes, most of the successful people I know of grow their minds by listening to great audios when they go to work and go back home.” Andrian Teodoro

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