On most days we need to interact with people. With some people, like our close friends, we find it is easy to interact. Though even with them sometimes the interaction does not go as we hoped it would. With other persons, for many of us, interpersonal interaction can be challenging. But we can change this by improving our interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are important in both the professional and personal aspects of our lives. People with good interpersonal skills are able to understand others better and communicate better as well. This helps them interact with others confidently.
You can improve your interpersonal skills
You do not have to change a lot to improve your interpersonal skills. By being aware of how you interact and a little practice, you can learn to interact with ease and confidence.
Improve your communication skills
Communicating well is very important for good interpersonal skills. Therefore if you feel you are not able to get your views across, you should work on your communication skills.
Handle problems well
Often interpersonal interactions require tackling small or big problems. Other than the solution that you may identify, how you react and try to solve the problem is important. Staying calm and making a sincere attempt to resolve the issue will help make the interpersonal interaction meaningful. It will help to solve the problem. It will avoid the interaction breaking down and adding to the problems. Staying calm is also important because if you are stressed you will not be able to communicate well.
Be good at making decisions when others are participating
Another time when interpersonal skills are tested is when a decision is to be made. There can be diverse opinions. The quality of the interaction depends on how the options are presented and evaluated. And on how finally, a decision is made. It is best to present your option with its rationale and listen to the opinions of others sincerely. Then you can go with the option that makes the most sense. Whether it is yours or that suggested by someone else.
Be assertive if you need to be
Having good interpersonal skills does not mean you need to change yourself and fit in. That may not be what you would like to do. In fact people will appreciate, that you stand your ground, if they feel you have justified it. Even if they do not agree with you. However for that it is important that you put forward your reasons properly.
Approach difficult situations with care
In difficult communication situations our ability to manage our emotions is important. We also need to be aware of the emotions of the other person(s) involved. We should anticipate how they would be affected by the difficult communication and provide for that. If required we should give time to the other persons to compose themselves if they have been overcome. Often a communication is difficult because it involves change. It is good at such times to understand change. Rather than simply react to it negatively, as it is an end to a familiar way of doing things. Change brings with it a whole set of new opportunities and change is also inevitable. Having a positive attitude towards change and being able to communicate it, is important for managing difficult situations.
Conflict & conflict resolution
Conflicts and attempts to resolve them test our interpersonal skills a lot. Conflicts also rarely result in discussing an issue well and lead to nothing but bruised egos. If you are getting into a conflict like situation you should be careful. You should keep your emotions in check and keep the communication polite. You should articulate your view point and reasoning in a calm manner. This will help prevent things from getting aggravated. Do not get personal and do not let your tone carry messages that your words do not mean. When trying to resolve a conflict it is not necessary to back down or concede a point that you do not wish to concede. A common reason for a conflict is that some person or persons are not aware of the relevant details. They make incorrect assumptions which leads to a conflict. This can be resolved relatively easily, if everyone goes through the relevant details carefully. If a conflict seems imminent, you can move away from it. You can step away from the conversation, or agree to disagree, or you could request an intervention. You can even go ahead and just say what you have to, but do not be rude, insulting or show someone else down. If you are able to take the heat out of the conversation, it is quite possible that a mutually acceptable solution emerges. Human history is filled with instances of divergent views getting reconciled or co-existing. There are many conflict free methods of discussing issues where opinions differ. You can choose an option to properly debate the issue in a conflict free manner.
Have respect for the individual
An important aspect of interpersonal interaction is respect for the individual. You can choose the people you admire but you should not be selective about respecting people. You should respect everyone. And make sure respect for the individual is a principle you live by. When you show respect people will listen more willingly to you and will open up more to you. If you interact respectfully with people, irrespective of hierarchy, you will get respect in return. Once there is mutual respect the interaction become easy. You will find that you are able express deeper thoughts to people with whom you enjoy mutual respect.
(content courtesy IIT Kanpur)