Possessing great interpersonal skills can elevate you in all areas of your life. From effectively navigating the professional waters of your workplace to sustaining a happy personal life, the better your interactions with the people around you, the better off you will be.
Your ability to interact with others, like any skill, is learned. As soon as you put these skills to work, a whole new script will start unfolding in the movie that is your life.
If you are looking to improve your interepersonal skills, here are 12 simple tricks.
1. Know that you are valuable and you have value to bring to other people you interact with.
In the professional arena, the more value you bring to the table, the better. The same goes for your personal life too. More importantly, people that know in their hearts that they have value are far less likely to be put down by others. Believing in your own value and what you have to offer others will almost certainly keep you out of oppressive or abusive relationships, whether personal or professional. So, trick number one is to know you have value to offer others.
2. Remember, when communicating, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
The people around you are focused on their problems, struggles, needs, and desires. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if, let’s say, you worked in sales, and when you visited your customers, they asked you how many orders you needed to fill your quota for the month? Intuitively, you know it doesn’t work that way. Placing your focus on the needs of the person with whom you are communicating is one of the keys to achieving interpersonal relationship mastery. Spend less time talking about how you view the issue at hand and more time absorbing how the person across from you feels about the subject.
The same goes for your personal relationships. Ask the other person about themselves and act interested. This is a great trick to always fall back on too, if you feel like you’re at a loss for what to say. Ask the other person about themselves!
3. Notice the non-verbals that communicate what words do not.
Non-verbal communication will convey to you what the person you are speaking with is not willing or able to say. Whether it is a child that is exhibiting a behavior that you are trying to decode or a customer with which you are trying to close a sale, a lot of what is on their mind will not be found in their words. Notice their posture, the way they move, their eye contact or lack thereof.
Make it a point to notice if the other person is keeping eye contact. Do they have their arms crossed in front of them? Do their mannerisms tell you that they are trying to end the conversation, or are they leaning towards you in an attentive way?
4. Give out genuine compliments and give them often.
Giving genuine compliments is a good way to build rapport with someone. People like to know that they are appreciated. Receiving a compliment will make others more open to you and make them place a higher value on your words. Don’t be stingy with your compliments but also make sure not to venture into flattery. As long as your comments come from the heart, you should be fine.
5. Ask good questions.
There is a saying that says, “If you ask good questions, you get good answers.”
Asking questions lets people know that you take an interest in them. Good questions let people know that your interest isn’t superficial. Take some time to mentally walk in the other person’s shoes. Empathy and compassion will lead you to ask great questions. You will find that the people you interact with will be more engaged when you ask thoughtful questions.
6. Always have a few pre-planned topics on hand at any time that work in any situation.
Keeping a conversation going can be difficult if you tend to be nervous or awkward in social situations or work meetings. Think of a few topics beforehand that you can use to fuel a conversation without great effort. Literally, take time to sit down and write down three different topics you would be compelling.
Envision yourself starting a conversation on one of these topics with someone at work, or at a gathering of friends. Practice using those topics in different situations in your everyday life as ice-breakers. Eventually, you will be able to engage others without trying at all.
7. Don’t be a whiner or a constant complainer.
This tip seems obvious, but a string of stressful days at work can make anyone act less than their best. It’s only human to complain about problems. Complaining is what people do when they are unable to take their focus away from their problems.
Next time you find yourself ready to complain about something, cut it off at the pass. Overcome the need to complain by assigning a meaning to the problem or unpleasant situation. Ask yourself: “What does this mean? Am I meant to learn something from this?” Getting your mind right about your problems and tackling them head-on will cause you to complain less. Be solution-oriented.
8. Cultivate emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to handle interpersonal relationships with logic and empathy. By learning more about body language and focusing on people’s needs while effectively expressing your own emotions, you will be manifesting your desired outcome, rather than reacting to the will of others. Cultivating emotional intelligence means control over your world.
9. Don’t start and don’t get caught up in drama.
Drama is draining for your life force. Steer clear of drama by learning to identify the types of people that provoke it. In this case, the best way to win is to not play.
10. Be aware of your body language and appearance.
Just as it is important for you to understand body language in order to ‘read’ others, it is equally significant to be aware of your own posture, behaviour, and appearance at all times. Learn to use your body language to amplify your verbal communication.
Maintain a brilliant smile, an agreeable scent, and a wardrobe to match your personality and goals. Be conscious of what you are conveying with your appearance, and the effectiveness of your communication will increase in orders of magnitude.
11. Be careful not to talk over people.
Talking over people isn’t necessarily a trait confined to rude people. Feeling awkward or nervous can cause you to speak over someone as a coping mechanism. Try your best not to talk over others. They will think you are rude and will value your opinions less. If you focus on being a good listener, this negative behaviour should sort itself out.
12. Remember that not everyone will be your cup of tea. Be professional anyway.
Achieving a high level of emotional intelligence means being able to deal with people that you may not consider agreeable or pleasant. Be professional and use all the aforementioned skills in your interactions with difficult individuals. Sometimes the road to your dreams has speed bumps. Learn to slow down and pass them with care. You’ll get to your life goals faster.
Put these practices to work and watch your life change for the better in a matter of days. You will experience greater fulfilment as you place the emphasis of your communication on understnading the needs of others. A little focus is all you need to achieve increased emotional intelligence.