Why Your Team Needs Training on Interpersonal Skills
Collaboration and teamwork are two of the most important skills in the workplace. They allow you complete projects, build a company culture, and keep your team members engaged. Then why—with the importance of working together—are people so hard to manage?
Chances are that it has something to do with a lack of training on interpersonal skills. Dealing with people and coworkers isn’t a natural ability or instinct for every person—even managers. But building interpersonal skills is the core fundamental that turns misunderstanding and miscommunication into empathy, confidence, and a close-knit staff.
Talent often trumps the downside of working with difficult people and difficult personalities, so learning to work with them requires a bit more work. And that’s why you need to put an emphasis on interpersonal skills training. With this training, the workplace can run more smoothly, effectively, and efficiently—three tenets that spell success in an ever-competitive business world.
What Are Interpersonal Skills?
Often referred to as social skills or people skills, interpersonal skills are a set of traits that define how you interact, relate, and communicate with others on a regular basis. Interpersonal skills aren’t just confined to the office—they’re skills that everyone uses in any person-to-person situation since you have to deal with others nearly every day. Some examples of interpersonal skills might include:
- Conflict management and conflict resolution
- Acceptance of constructive criticism
- Persuasion and negotiation
- Interpersonal communication skills—both verbal and non-verbal communication (understanding body language)
- Dealing with difficult or different personalities
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem solving
- Active listening skills
- Offering support and help to others
Many soft skills cross over to the interpersonal realm—making both sets particularly important to managers, employees, and coworkers.
An important distinction of interpersonal skills is that they’re a rarity among most people—at least at an above-average or elite level. They also differ from hard skills or technical skills in that years of experience doesn’t necessarily dictate improvement. As a result, those who exhibit strong interpersonal skills are often highly valued and sought after by companies—whether for hiring purposes or employee retention.
Why Are Interpersonal Skills Important?
Now that you know more about interpersonal skills, their relationship with soft skills, and their distinction from technical skills, you’re probably asking the million-dollar question: Why do I care?
The answer can be far-reaching, but at its simplest, interpersonal skills diffuse difficult situations, build teamwork, and streamline communication—all of which lead to a more successful business and smoother operations.
Breaking down this idea even further, training on interpersonal skills can improve your business exponentially. If everyone is a better communicator, can solve their own problems, or can resolve conflicts, it frees up people to work more productively and efficiently.
Other benefits of training on interpersonal skills may include:
- Improvements in trust
- More effective leadership and management
- Better relationships between team members and between managers and team members
- Enhanced company culture
- Reduce the workload of human resources
- Transition to a communication style that gels with your business
- Development of self-awareness of your own interpersonal skills
- Open discussion geared toward problem solving
- More alignment with business goals
- Organizational transformation that encourages communication, transparency, and a healthier work environment
The Focus of Training on Interpersonal Skills
Training on interpersonal skills is the only way to fully develop them. Much like learning a new technology or taking a course on management, simply knowing about them doesn’t necessarily mean you have a firm grasp on them. You need to constantly train to improve them. You need to put them into action.
For the sake of ease, let’s take a look at some of the more common and integral interpersonal skills and relevant examples of how to utilize them.
Dealing With Difficult Personalities
Dealing with difficult people is just a part of doing business. A person may be a brilliant programmer, but they may have an introverted personality that makes them seem cold. This can lead to disagreements that can derail a project.
To deal with difficult people, training on interpersonal skills should always touch on empathy. Perhaps the person had a bad day, they feel like they’re not being heard, or they like to be left alone to their work.
In this instance, active listening can become the interpersonal skill you would apply. Instead of hearing them and waiting for your chance to speak, really listen. The solution to your problem just might be in what that person has to say.
Lack of Motivation
A lack of motivation from employees can happen from time to time, and it’s not necessarily always the fault of management. However, it is management’s job to right the ship and provide inspiration and a reason for motivation.
While there’s no one way to provide motivation, an interpersonal skill you could apply might be the acceptance of constructive criticism. This is where training on interpersonal skills helps you improve. You may come off as a micromanager or ask too much of your employees, and they feel overwhelmed. Ask the right questions, accept any criticism, and you build a more trusting, two-way relationship.
Conflict is in the same realm as dealing with difficult people. It starts off small, but then festers until it finally explodes into a full-blown conflict that puts people at odds with each other. Not everyone in the office has to be friends, but they need to have a strong enough relationship to get the task done.
Problem-solving and conflict resolution are the interpersonal skills that you would apply during this scenario. Being able to observe conflict or anti-social behavior is part of the equation, but you may also need to meet with both parties to come to a satisfactory solution. This is where your negotiation skills kick in. With a bit of give-and-get, you can resolve conflict and shake out any ill vibes.
Lack of Compassion
When you’re a business owner, leader, or manager, you’re saddled with stress. You have to wear many hats—dealing with customers, handling logistics, hiring and firing—the list goes on and on.
But because you’re so focused on business operations, your employees may feel as though you lack compassion. You’re not asking them about their day, you don’t empathize with their personal situations, and you just don’t seem to care.
If you’re training on interpersonal skills, this is the time that you would use empathy, communication and emotional intelligence to resolve the issue. Empathy allows you to feel what your workers feel while emotional intelligence makes you more aware of the plights and problems of your employees. When you start to use these interpersonal skills, you pick up on non-verbal cues you may have missed in the past.
Once you recognize a person’s body language faltering or their mood changing, you have the communication skills training necessary to not just understand—but feel your employees’ frustrations, whether professional or personal.
Failing To Speak Up When Necessary
Another major issue that can lead to negativity in the workplace is when employees and managers fail to speak their mind when necessary—at least in a positive light. Whilie some of this is the result of someone’s personality, other times an employee may not feel like they can. Managers may also feel the same way.
Training on interpersonal skills with a focus on assertiveness is the answer to this issue. Assertiveness is the ability to stay positive and calm while also standing up for yourself, and it’s hardly a common personal trait.
Unfortuantely, assertiveness is often confused with bullying, so you need to have the right communication path and non-verbal cues to overcome this idea. Be firm, polite, and use your training to say what you need to say without coming off as negative.
Are Interpersonal Skills Courses Worth It?
If you do a quick internet search, you’ll be inundated with numerous interpersonal skills training courses that state their course materials will teach you everything you know about training on interpersonal skills. While a training course of this nature can teach you the theoretical aspects of interpersonal skills and situations where you should use your training, it lacks one important factor: actual, real-life interpersonal relationships.
Without the ability to practice on the fly as you’re learning, these courses tend to become just words on a screen. There’s no shame in learning what interpersonal skills are or how to fine-tune your management skills or negotiations skills, but online courses can’t compete with in-person interactions.
Training on Interpersonal Skills: The Alternative to Online Training
Instead of spending money on online courses for interpersonal skills, your money is better spent in a forum where you can learn a concept and apply it almost immediately. That’s what makes a reputable leadership coach a more viable alternative.
A leadership coach teaches you not only how to use interpersonal skills and develop them, but also allows you to interact personally with them, present role-playing scenarios where these skills are relevant, and take your professional development and personal development to the next level.
And that’s just what we do at Unicorn Labs. Through our extensive leadership training, retreats, and leadership programs, you can become a savant of the interpersonal arts. With one of these programs, your interpersonal competencies, work relationships and effective communication become second-nature. From there, success is well within your reach.