Interpersonal Skills

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills involve the ability to understand, communicate, and work well with individuals and groups developing effective relationships. The resources required to get the job done are made available through relationships, both inside (employees) and outside (customers, suppliers, others) the firm.

In the business world, the term refers to an employee or manager's ability to get along with others while getting the job done. Management is most widely defined as the art of getting things done through people. Managing people is a hassle, especially as today’s employees want a partnership relationship rather than superior–subordinate relationship.

A manager needs interpersonal skills to be successful in getting things done through people. According to Mangham (1986), a manager looking to be successful must possess natural and/or highly developed ability to read the actual and potential behaviour of others around him/her and must conduct oneself in accordance with the reading outcome. This is an ability we all have but, as Mangham clearly puts it, ‘the most successful among us appear to do social life with a higher degree of skill than the rest of us manage’.

Interpersonal skills include everything from communicationOpens in new window and listening skillsOpens in new window to attitude and deportment. It happen to be one of a number of broadly similar terms that are often used interchangeably. Other such terms include interactive skills, people skills, soft skills, face-to-face skills, social skills and social competence.

The Definition

According to Argyle (1984), socially competent people are those who possess the skills necessary to produce desired effects on other people in social situations. These desired effects may include persuading somebody to work harder, make a purchase, make a concession in a negotiation, be impressed by one’s expertise or support someone in a crisis.

Honey’s (1988) definition is similar. He defines interactive skills as the skills people use in face-to-face encounters to arrange their behaviour so that it is in step with their objectives. He emphasizes the point that interactive skills have very little to do with being nice or winning friends unless these sorts of outcomes are encapsulated in the individual’s objectives.

A significant theme in these definitions is the ability to behave in ways that increase the probability of achieving desired outcomes. It is therefore imperative to define interpersonal skills as goal–directed behaviours employed in face–to–face interactions in order to achieve a desired state of affairs.

Today, organizations sought after employees with good interpersonal skills. More hints to the importance of interpersonal skills, is the fact that business schools are placing more emphasis on them. Interpersonal skills are base on several other skills, including:

  1. Communication skills
    An average of 40 percent of managers’ time is spent communicating. Effective relationships are based on good, open, and honest communications. You will develop your communication skills hereOpens in new window.
  2. Team skills
    Teamwork skills are increasingly gaining significance to organizations as they compete in the information and knowledge age. Teams are the bedrock of organizations, hence, the reason employers are seeking employees with team skills.
  3. Diversity skills
    Anyone who seeks to operate in the sphere of global economy needs to be able to develop good working relationships with “all” people regardless of their culture diversity.
  4. Motivation skills
    In order to get things done through people, as a manager, one needs to be able to motivate them through good relationships. A manager’s relationship with employees has a direct impact on their motivation.
  5. Conflict management skills
    In any relationship, you are bound to encounter conflict. Therefore, to become a successful manager, you need to develop and maintain effective relationships, and when conflicts arise you need to be able to resolve it without thwarting the relationship.
  6. Ethics skills
    In order to have good relationships, you have to apply ethical measures in your relationship with people. Would you tolerate people who lies, steals or cheats to be around you?
  7. Power, political, negotiation, and networking skills
    Most successful people accomplish their personal and professional goals through their power, political influence, and networking relationships with others. There is a saying that “It’s not what you know, but who you know”.