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Do I Have Strong Interpersonal Skills?

A self-assessment to evaluate your interpersonal skills

“Strong interpersonal skills are a must.”

How many times have you seen that in a job description?  You’ll find it in just about any job description that requires regular collaboration with team members, interacting with business partners, managing people, delivering presentations, interacting with the community and so much more.

What are strong interpersonal skills and how do you know if you have them?

When a job opening requires strong interpersonal skills, it means that the job requires the ability to communicate and interact effectively with other people in the workplace, including co-workers, clients, customers and superiors.  Knowing if you possess these skills is not always obvious.  A few moments of self-evaluation would be time well spent before applying for a job that lists strong interpersonal skills as a requirement.

Elements of Strong Interpersonal Skills

Strong interpersonal skills involve listening, communicating and building positive relationships. Here are five elements that are essential to strong interpersonal skills:

  • Active listening: the ability to listen to others attentively and understand their perspective.
  • Verbal communication: the ability to communicate ideas and information clearly and effectively through spoken words.
  • Nonverbal communication: the ability to convey meaning through facial expressions, body language and tone of voice.
  • Empathy: the ability to understand and relate to other people’s feelings and perspectives.
  • Conflict resolution: the ability to resolve conflicts and disagreements in a constructive and positive manner.

How to Determine if You Have Strong Interpersonal Skills

If you are wondering whether you have strong interpersonal skills, there are a few indicators to look for. The questions below can help you determine your level of ability in this area.

Give yourself a 1-5 (5 being the highest) on each of these questions.  If you score 30 and above, you can confidently say you have strong interpersonal skills.  If you fall between 25-29, then it would be wise to hone your skills. A score below 25 is a good indicator that you are not a good fit for a job that requires strong interpersonal skills.

  1. Do you build and maintain positive relationships with others?
  2. Are you able to connect with others on a personal level and make people feel comfortable?
  3. Are you able to express your thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely?
  4. Are you a good listener, interested in learning other peoples’ perspectives?
  5. How good are you at resolving conflicts and handling difficult situations?
  6. Do you stay calm and rational under pressure?
  7. Are you a problem-solver and able to find solutions to people’s issues?

If you’re not sure how to answer these questions for yourself, you can ask for feedback from others. Ask co-workers, friends or family members for their honest opinion.

Another option, if you don’t need immediate feedback, is to take some time to observe your own behavior in social situations and reflect on areas where you could improve. While this topic is top of mind, you will be more attuned to your strengths and weaknesses in this area. Ultimately, developing strong interpersonal skills takes practice, so it is important to continue working on these skills over time.

What Are Indicators of Poor Interpersonal Skills?

To have a balanced perspective, it’s good to also consider your level of interpersonal skills by looking at the negative side. Maybe you graded yourself too hard in the first seven questions.  Or, conversely, maybe you were viewing yourself through rose-colored glasses.

Answer the seven questions below to determine if you have poor interpersonal skills.  Although some of the questions may be clear opposites of the first ones, thinking through them in this context can help you honestly assess your skill level. Again, rating them on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest level of agreement with the question) will help you quantify your need for improvement. (In this section, you are aiming for a low number.)

  1. Are your interactions with other people often strained and awkward?
  2. Do you find it challenging to build and maintain positive relationships with others?
  3. Do you have trouble expressing yourself clearly?
  4. Do you get frustrated and easily distracted when you are listening to others?
  5. Do you tend to avoid conflicts rather than addressing them in a constructive manner?
  6. Do you have trouble understanding and relating to other people’s feelings and perspectives?
  7. Do you find it challenging to work collaboratively with others or contribute to group projects?

If you notice any of these signs in your behavior, it doesn’t mean that you can’t develop stronger interpersonal skills. It simply means that you may need to work on these skills to become more effective in your personal and professional relationships.

Tips for Improving Interpersonal Skills

After answering the questions above, you may have discovered some areas that could use some work. Here are seven tips that can help you improve your interpersonal skills:

  1. Practice active listening: Pay attention to what others are saying, ask clarifying questions and show that you understand their point of view.
  2. Develop empathy: Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand their feelings and perspectives. This can help you build stronger connections with others.
  3. Improve your communication skills: Practice expressing yourself clearly and effectively. Work on your body language, tone of voice and written communication skills.
  4. Develop conflict resolution skills: Learn how to handle conflicts constructively by focusing on finding solutions that work for everyone involved. Avoid blaming or attacking others.
  5. Practice teamwork: Learn how to work collaboratively with others. Practice taking on different roles and responsibilities.  Support others in achieving their goals.
  6. Cultivate a positive attitude: Be friendly, approachable and positive. Smile, make eye contact and show genuine interest in others.
  7. Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from others on your interpersonal skills. Use this feedback to identify areas where you can improve and proactively work on improving.

Remember, developing strong interpersonal skills takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and continue to work on these skills over time.

In conclusion, knowing your strengths and weaknesses can be a huge help when you are evaluating new jobs.  If you’ve identified interpersonal skills as an area of weakness, you would be very unhappy in a job that requires strength in this area.  But, as we addressed above, an area of weakness can become a strength over time.  With dedication and effort, you can become a more effective listener, communicator and relationship builder which is critical to possessing strong interpersonal skills.