Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills

It’s not uncommon to see the phrase “interpersonal skills” in a job ad. Read on to find out what the phrase means and if you have what is being asked for.

Laura wants to know what “interpersonal skills” are after spotting the phrase in a job ad.

Therese Ravell, human resources manager of Manpower, said interpersonal skills could be divided into three areas – communication skills, social skills and emotional intelligence.

Communication skills include literacy and verbal skills and listening skills such as “active listening”. Active listening is where you repeat back some of what someone has said to show you have understood correctly.

Social skills include good eye contact, body language – for instance avoiding tightly crossed arms – and your ability to build rapport with other people. It also involves how well you interact with other people particularly your ability to understand “cultural” differences and act accordingly. “Culture” relates to ethnic and social cultures as well as different workplace cultures. For example, you would carry yourself differently in say an Adelaide law firm than you would in a Queensland advertising agency.

Ms Ravell said emotional intelligence was all about self-awareness and emotional maturity. For instance, instead of losing your temper with a frustrating colleague, the most emotionally intelligent way to deal with the situation would be to speak calmly and with empathy for that person’s situation. The goal would be to move the situation forward – not score points or vent steam.

“Emotional intelligence is having the self-awareness to know and understand what people want to hear from you and to effectively answer questions [in a job interview] without shyness or nervousness,” Ms Ravell said.

“All of these things roll into what we call interpersonal skills – you have to be able to balance all those things in the right way to connect with the other person or people you are talking with,” she said.

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