What are Interpersonal Skills?
Interpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate, interact, and work with individuals and groups. Those with good interpersonal skills are strong verbal and non-verbal communicators and are often considered to be “good with people”. Whether in your career or personal life, these skills are important for success.
Why Interpersonal Skills Matter
Most of what we do in life requires interaction with other people. In order to be successful in your career or have meaningful friendships, it’s critical to be good at getting along with others. While interpersonal skills are often considered to be something that comes naturally, that you’re either blessed with or not, the truth is that they can be learned.
At CFI, our focus is on helping you advance your career. With that objective in mind, we’ve designed this guide to help you:
- Be aware of the importance of interpersonal skills
- Highlight your skills in a way that helps you get a job and advance your career
- Assess your abilities and develop a plan to improve
Technical Skills vs Soft Skills
When preparing a job application the natural tendency is to focus on technical skills. It’s only natural, as most job descriptions focus on specific requirements like accounting, finance, Excel, financial modeling, coding, programming, and related skills.
However, most hiring managers actually make their decision based on soft skills, even though they talk about all the technical skills required. According to a recent LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers, interpersonal skills may not only be more important, but they are also very hard to find (59% of managers reported they have trouble finding people with the right soft skills).
The table below summarizes some key differences between technical and soft skills.
|Technical Skills||Interpersonal Skills|
|IQ (Intelligence Quotient)||EQ (Emotional Quotient)|
|Following Rules||Changing Rules|
|Learned in School||Learned in Life|
|Easily Testable||Harder to Test|
|Can be Learned||Can be Learned|
|Heavy Focus in Careers||Equally Important, Less Focus|
How to Weave Interpersonal Skills into Your Cover Letter
The cover letter is actually a better place to focus on soft skills than the resume. The reason is that interpersonal skills are best demonstrated with stories and examples, which fit more naturally in a cover letter.
Here are some tips for including these skills in your cover letter:
- Identity 3-4 traits from the list provided below that you want to focus on
- Recall a story or example from the past that demonstrates how you possess those traits
- Connect the examples you used to the job you’re applying for
It’s literally as easy as that! If you follow the three steps above you’ll be able to naturally and elegantly incorporate soft skills into your cover letter and increase your chances of getting the job.
List of Interpersonal Skills for Your Resume
When preparing your resume and cover letter for a job application, it’s important to ensure you have an appropriate amount of people skills.
If you’re looking for ideas and examples, here is a list of the most common interpersonal skills:
- Awareness (of yourself and others)
- Caring about other people
- Collaborating and working together well
- Comforting people when they need it
- Clear communication skills
- Conflict management and resolution skills
- Constructive feedback (ways people can improve)
- Diplomacy (handling affairs without hostility)
- Empathy for others
- Encouraging and inspiring people to do their best
- Flexibility in thinking and operating style
- Humor and lightheartedness
- Inspiring and motivating others to active greatness
- Listening well
- Mentoring and coaching team members
- Networking and building relationships
- Nonverbal cues and body language
- Patience when dealing with others
- Public speaking and presentation skills
- Respect for everyone, no matter who they are
- Sensitivity toward the preferences and wishes of others
- Socializing skills
- Team Building and strong at building trust
- Tolerance and respect for team members
How to Assess Your Own Interpersonal Skills
It all starts with self-awareness. Simply by reading this article, you’re already going to be more aware of your interpersonal skills going forward.
From now on, whenever you’re in a group setting or a situation that involves discussion, emotion, decisions, and human interaction, pay close attention to your behavior, and how others perceive or react to your behavior.
Repeat this process for a while until you have a solid understanding of how you behave in interpersonal settings.
How to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills
Once you know where you stand, it’s time to start planning how to improve your interpersonal skills. Some of the best ways to improve are:
- Monitor your body language and ensure you’re not doing things that make people think you’re disengaged or aggressive (crossing your arms, looking around, avoiding eye contact, etc.)
- Practice active listening with family, friends, and coworkers and repeat what they’ve said back to them to ensure you’re accurately listening
- Try being friendly and chatty with colleagues
- Practice leading a meeting or presentation setting
- Be enthusiastic and engaged when interacting with people
- Project an image of being confident and approachable
Video Explanation of Interpersonal Skills
Watch this short video to quickly understand the main concepts covered in this guide, including what interpersonal skills are, why they matter, comparison between technical and soft skills, and how to incorporate interpersonal skills into your cover letter.
Thank you for reading this guide to mastering interpersonal skills and using them to advance your career. To keep learning and advancing, these additional resources will be very helpful: