Interpersonal Skills: How to Master Communication and Collaboration

Have you ever felt like a square peg in a round hole? Are you bursting with enthusiasm but feeling like you don’t fit in? Perhaps you’re in a group seeking a different set of interpersonal skills. Or maybe, your delivery is a little too direct, and team members feel like they get run over?

To be successful in your career, you need to have both hard skills and interpersonal skills. Sometimes referred to as people skills, these are the talents that allow you to communicate and work collaboratively with others. Some fields need them more than others, but they are always crucial for working well together.

Recognizing your interpersonal skills is as essential for your career as understanding the educational requirements. Likewise, understanding where you have room for improvement will help you create a plan to practice and improve in those areas. Looking for ways to do both? Read on!

Defining Your Current Skills

Essentially, interpersonal skills can be broken into just a few categories:

Communication: How do you convey your ideas? How well do you listen to others? The term active listening refers to the skill of truly hearing what people are communicating. Does your communication style lend itself to positivity? Do you consider the different experiences teammates might have and change your delivery to make everyone feel included? Do you find yourself doing all of the talking, or is everyone confident that you want to hear their contribution as well?

Teamwork: How collaborative are you? Do you always need to be in charge? Do you actively work to get everyone to participate, or do you charge forward because you always have the best ideas? Are you organized and can delegate well?

Emotional Intelligence: Perhaps the hardest to quantify, it’s essentially your emotional maturity. Do you accept feedback gracefully? Do you communicate with empathy, willingly accept responsibility, and stay calm under pressure? Or, are you prone to explosive outbursts and visibly wear your disappointment whenever projects or days don’t go well? Those are traits that will make working with you a challenge, especially if you’re in a leadership role.

Some Workplace Examples

One example of emotional intelligence is the ability to maintain confidentiality, such as when you’re working on sensitive information for a client. Being trustworthy and knowing how much information is appropriate for release can give employers peace of mind. Likewise, teammates should feel confident that you won’t share what they’ve confided.

Another example of emotional maturity is the ability to accept feedback and criticism. No one is perfect. Do you get belligerent when errors are pointed out? Gracefully accepting constructive feedback shows that you are humble and willing to improve.

Finally, strong interpersonal skills include navigating difficult conversations and providing conflict resolution. This could involve having tough conversations with clients or coworkers about deadlines, changes, or disagreements. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence to handle these interactions in a professional setting. Even more so, to avoid causing drama or damaging relationships.

Taking Inventory of Your Interpersonal Skills

Need to identify yours? Think of all the feedback you’ve received throughout your career, both indirectly and through formal reviews. Have your coworkers frequently commented on your ability to stay calm during high-stress moments? Did you often hear that your positive enthusiasm was a great asset to the team?

Likewise, were you told that you could be challenging to work with or that your communication style was off-putting? Have you heard that you’re too blunt or that you take over projects without really listening? If you’re being honest about the feedback you’ve received, along with the roles you were successful in, you’ll discover patterns. This should help you start making a list of your strengths and highlight your opportunities for development.

Tips for Developing Your Skill Set

No matter what job you have, you’ll inevitably work with others. Good interpersonal skills allow you to stand out from other candidates who struggle to communicate and be great teammates.

Being realistic ensures that you can create career goals that align with your strengths. Suppose you don’t handle stress well. In that case, you’ll want to steer away from careers in areas such as customer service at an airport or project management roles that require you to juggle multiple priorities.

Regardless of your starting point, all of us can improve our soft skills. If you’ve narrowed down a few areas to work on, here are some ways to consciously improve them.

  • Seek out professional development opportunities that focus on communication and collaboration.
  • Practice active listening with friends, family, and coworkers. This involves being present and not judging or interrupting while the other person speaks.
  • Be aware of your body language and how others interpret it. Try to maintain an open posture and make eye contact when interacting with others.
  • Think before you speak! Make it a habit to count to three. Pausing for a few seconds to gather your thoughts will prevent you from saying something that you might regret later.

Presenting Interpersonal Skills During a Job Search

When applying for jobs, it is essential to showcase what feels intangible, in a tangible way, relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you are unsure about which skills to list, here’s a list of 10 of the most commonly sought skills:

10 Top Interpersonal Skills for Your Resume

  • Communication (verbal and nonverbal)
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Decision-Making
  • Self-Confidence
  • Collaboration
  • Receptive to Feedback
  • Dependability
  • Flexibility
  • Empathy
  • Leadership

Start by reading the job description carefully and highlighting any keywords that stand out. This will give you an idea of what kind of soft skills the employer is looking for. Consider your past experiences and situations where you displayed strong interpersonal skills. Did you successfully resolve a conflict with a client? Did you manage feedback well and learn from your mistakes?

If you have any certificates or awards related to interpersonal skills, be sure to include them on your resume! Communicate your skills with examples or data on a resume. For example, if you see strong organization and communication skills requirements, don’t simply state that you possess these skills.

Instead, think of your experiences that quantify this, such as:

“Prioritized and delegated daily assignments to a team of 6 content writers to consistently meet or exceed our team goal.”

This shows that you can prioritize and delegate to teammates with a positive outcome, supporting the requirements of being organized and communicating well. When you’ve attained an interview, you can expound on this. Include other details, such as how you led with positive energy and applied feedback from the team for better outcomes.

Looking for more skills to make your resume stand out? Read Best Skills to Put On Your Resume (Examples).

Lifelong Growth

Your interpersonal skills will be used in every relationship you have, and they need to fit your career goals. The key is learning how to list them on a resume to catch a recruiter’s attention. Before you know it, you’ll be landing an interview and getting the job!


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