The difference between good employees and great employees is not always something you can put a finger on. If they’re a pleasure to work with, why? If they exceed every expectation, what are their secrets?
The answer is as common as ever: Interpersonal skills. But because these are technically “soft skills,” which means the best way to attain them is to be born with them, they are extremely valuable and require unique methods to learn.
Improving and developing your interpersonal skills is best done in steps, starting with the most basic, but vital:
Identify areas for improvement
The first step towards improving is to develop your knowledge of yourself and your weaknesses. Your weaknesses are not the worst part of you but they are those attributes that tells of your secret strength, you should identify them to be able to overcome them. Write down at least three (3) weaknesses that affect your communication and also write out three ways it can be corrected.
Focus on your basic communication skills
Communication is far more than the words that come out of your mouth. Effective verbal communication begins with clarity. This often requires nothing more than slowing down and speaking more thoughtfully. Many people feel rushed to respond to questions and conversations immediately, but it is better to pause for a moment in consideration, especially if the question merits it. No one expects, or wants, a gun-slinging attitude in important conversations. A thoughtful person is generally taken more seriously.
Improve your more advanced communication skills
Once you are confident in your basic listening, verbal and non-verbal communication, you can move onto more advanced areas around communication, such as becoming more effective in how you speak, and understanding why you may be having communication problems.
Interpersonal skills may be about how you relate to others, but they start with you. Many will be improved dramatically if you work on your personal skills. Ever wondered why people think it’s relevant to talk to you? Are they compelled to because you give smart contributions or they only have a communication with you during meetings? When you have a sound response and understanding of this then you know where to start from.
Use and practice your interpersonal skills
There are a number of situations in which you need to use interpersonal skills. Consciously putting yourself in those positions, and practicing your skills, then reflecting on the outcomes, will help you to improve. There are times where you are required to start off a conversation to test your knowledge, your skills and help others grow without their knowledge. Have them share idea, or thoughts on relevant topics and watch them trust you to help them grow.
Reflect on your experience and improve
The final, but by no means least important, element in developing and improving your skills is to develop the habit of self-reflection. Taking time to think about previous conversations and other interpersonal interactions will enable you to learn from your mistakes and successes, and continue to develop and maintain Self Management.
Self-management allows us to control our emotions when they are not aligned with what would be considered appropriate behavior for a given situation. This means controlling anger, hiding frustration, exuding calmness, etc. Undoubtedly there are times to show your true colors, but remaining composed is almost always the desired course of action.
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