Interpersonal skills for any workplace: Why you should consider investing in communication

How we interact and communicate with others is crucial in shaping our relationships whether these are with people we work with, our social circles, or even someone we have just met. Building our interpersonal skills is one clear way to improve the relationships we have with others and when it comes to our workplace relationships, certain skills are always worth our extra effort and consideration.

Since in every interaction we are in during a day, there is a potential to make or to damage it, even the short-term interactions, like with random strangers and customers, having developed good communication skills is important.

If you are considering making a few changes with your own interpersonal skills, but not sure where to begin, try Communication.

As working professionals today we communicate approximately 15 hours per day in all shapes and forms, verbally and non-verbally, orally and written, in different languages even, yet:

Are we being listened to when we speak? Do we get our ideas communicated the way we want? Do we understand each other even when on the same topic and speaking the same language? Do we build relationships or do we damage them in this process?

One of the best lessons on the importance of communication I have learned through my very first job. It was a summer job as a shop assistant within the Chinese business center, as I was studying Mandarin at that time, I saw it as a great opportunity to practice my language skills over the summer while getting some real work experience.

It was the shortest job interview I ever had, I was hired on the spot. I remember being so thrilled about getting myself a job so easily, thinking that my language skills and willingness to work hard will get me through the job as easily as I got hired.

Clearly, I had to learn that having the right people skills is a cornerstone of business success. The fact that I was still studying Mandarin was no obstacle to my performance there at all. What got me in a really unpleasant situation with a customer that I still remember was my lack of communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and dealing with an angry customer.

The American Management Association writes “Research conducted with Fortune 500 CEOs by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon Foundation, found that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% on technical knowledge.

I remember that one customer got so upset, and I felt that the situation was out of my hands. The issue was solved, but I have learned that what got me into that situation was not being able to read that customer’s body language as she entered the shop, not knowing how to calm the situation down when the tension started to build up and how to resolve the conflict.  It was simply about not having all these crucial skills at that moment working for me.

If you have ever worked in customer service, I believe you can relate and I know I have learned so much from these practical experiences, where I got to practice all these skills, communicate with hundreds of people daily. The most important part when absorbing new skills is putting them into practice, and if you want to develop your communication skills, it is never too early to begin.

At that time I didn’t have enough hands-on experience in workplace communication, and although we indeed learn from our hardships, I believe that the best time to start learning any skill in your life is before you really need it.

Communication is one of the most important life skills you can ever have. It is the basis of all other skills such as teamwork, influencing, conflict resolution, and a better understanding of others.

The sooner you begin discovering and shaping your preferred communication style, learning how to handle conflicts, the more chances of progressing in your career you will have. Not only you will see positive changes on your professional level, but good communication skills will impact positively your personal experiences, too.

There is no single job description nowadays that doesn’t require good communication skills. If it is true that everything is about perception, then how we come across when we interact with others is essential to having successful relationships with them.

Learned communication is what can determine whether you are going to achieve that success or not. Being right isn’t the key to creating successful relationships – having the right attitude is.

Author: Ana Toroman, Talent Development Consultant

Being a part of training and development education programs across companies in the Middle East, I help people develop their potential through learning key social skills for career building, with a particular interest in emotional resilience in the workplace. Having started my career in HR and education and working as a Corporate Trainer & Coach in Dubai, I work on self-development strategies for both teams and individuals. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn here or follow me on Instagram on HR and Wellbeing page here

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