Interpersonal communication is inescapable. Indeed, it is impossible to ‘not communicate’. Humans are social creatures and every public act is an attempt at communication. Career-wise, your skill and talent might not always be enough to take you places. Simply put, you may be the best employee – hard-working and one who knows his job like the back of his hand – and yet you might miss that promotion if you’re not popular enough. Let’s face it: corporate world is as much about hard work and skills as it is about connecting – to your clients and coworkers – and developing a certain rapport that makes you popular with both seniors and juniors alike.
Although certain people can just be born with this particular skill, others can acquire it over time. The trick is to not get intimidated and keep working on it no matter what comes your way.
To help you develop and improve your interpersonal skills, here we present some time-tested tips.
Identify your pain areas
Awareness is the first step towards learning. Try to identify the patterns and common problem areas in your communication skills. A recommended way to begin is with a list of good and bad situations. Then take them apart on by one and identify where exactly do you face most trouble. Once you identify a situation where you could have done better, try to also recognize specific behavioral patterns that cause the undesirable results. Then try and incorporate changes and keep track of them in the same way, i.e. via a list. Trial and error method proves most effective in this case. Keep working on it until you hit on the solutions.
Get over yourself
The ego can well be the most debilitating factor as far as your social life is concerned. The most important thing in order to develop your interpersonal skills is to get rid of this ego. While the ego stays, you might as well give up the thought of being a people-person. It hampers your personal as well and professional growth. No one likes to hear they’re wrong, especially someone with a nice big ego. The truth is that we are not always right, so reality checks that let us know where we’re faltering and how, are not only good but necessary for our growth. One who can keep this ego well in check will also let constructive criticism shape him into a better person.
Understanding is the key
Often others may do things that hurt you or are particularly debilitating for your career. Much though you would want to hit back and take revenge, we suggest you don’t. The trick is to get in their shoes and forward towards their minds. Trying to fix yourself in their position will give you a better idea of their motives and hence a better shot at rooting out the problem. Getting back at them would only make matters worse and will certainly not help you gain any popularity with your colleagues.
Be a good listener
Everybody loves a good listener! No one would ever like someone who goes on talking without caring for what others have to say. Being talkative is a sure-shot sign of being self-obsessed. Talking too much never does anyone good. The trick is to talk when talked to and listen more than you talk. It is also important to keep in mind the difference between hearing and listening. A well-liked person is one who listens, understands and responds to others.
Express yourself clearly
Self-expression is the key to any communication. Make sure you think carefully before saying anything. Words spoken without due consideration might end up hurting others. Another smart idea is to specifically adapt your thought to the idea or the topic of conversation. Keeping in mind your audience’s backgrounds, feelings and knowledge base also helps. Speaking with confidence and throwing in a smile or two would also make the experience pleasant for both you and your audience.
While communicating, honest feedback is always appreciated. But there is a trick with this as well. Being assertive and agreeing with your colleague’s opinions and ides before carefully presenting your own would work more effectively than outright disagreement. No one likes to know they are wrong and certainly not in an obnoxious manner. Positive feedback and disagreeing (provided you have to) respectfully gives the right idea.
Put on a happy face
Don’t be a grumpy, grouchy, cantankerous colleague. Be the life of the party instead. If you smile often, are optimistic with an upbeat attitude, people will naturally be drawn to you. A cheerful outlook serves a great deal in making one a well-liked person at office or otherwise. On the other hand, a grumpy and pessimistic outlook will only ensure you a place in your colleagues’ ‘People to Avoid’ lists.
Show that you care
Applause should always be bestowed generously. You might be the worst miser on the face of the earth, but don’t hold back on praise; it costs you nothing and has the potential of making someone’s day. If a co-worker or junior has put in real hard work and produced good results, thank them. Let them know you appreciate even if they’re just bringing your coffee. Little acts of kindness go a long way in redeeming your position even in extreme conditions where your coworkers might loath you.
Be a team player
Help your colleagues by creating a family-like environment at work. No one likes an overtly bossy colleague. Even if there exist hierarchies in your workplace, make sure you treat everyone the same and with affection and respect. Avoid gossip and listen to your coworkers’ advice. If you don’t agree, let them know so respectfully. Give out the message that everyone’s opinions are equally important and encourage your coworkers to be cordial to each other.
Be a confidant
Instead of a being a hateful colleague who harbors feelings of resentment, be someone your coworkers can trust. Avoid getting into fight, don’t badmouth or bitch about your colleagues and try to avoid disputes as much as you can. If you invariably find yourself in one, find an amicable way out. No matter what happens, don’t let things turn ugly. Instead, be a level-headed person who your colleagues would turn to in-case of a dispute.