Last updated March 15, 2024

Interpersonal skills are skills that we use on a quotidian (everyday) basis in the workplace to interact with other people. These are skills that both employers, managers, and other staff all use.

Interpersonal skills include communication skills, conflict management, relationship management skills, dealing with difficult people training, and Active Listening skills.

Definition of interpersonal skills

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills and Why They Matter

The world and workplace are such that no matter what sized company or business we run or work in (or even if we work from home), we inevitably have to deal with other people.

We have to communicate, work with and interact with colleagues, other departments, customers in person or on the phone and so on. Interacting with other people is unavoidable.

These people’s interactions become vitally important in the workplace because they begin to dictate how smoothly and efficiently the workplace runs. Let me explain with an example:

Example Scenario: The Minor Conflict that Escalates

Interpersonal work conflict

Two colleagues can easily have a minor misunderstanding with each other and this might lead to a small agitation or sense of distrust between them.

This situation then left alone might, at a later time, turn into a bigger conflict between the two colleagues.

This can then turn into a situation that draws in colleagues into the conflict and divides the workforce. Or the conflict may cause issues and a lot of wasted time in meetings.

Such a scenario is surprisingly common and the act of learning how to be an active listener (see active listening) can be enough to make a big difference. If one or both colleagues had been trained in active listening skills the issue may not have started.

Likewise, if their manager had been trained in Conflict and Resolution Management then this situation might have been avoided.

Good interpersonal skills

There is a range of interpersonal skills that you can master yourself or provide training in, for your staff. The key interpersonal skills that training is available for include:

1. Conflict Management

This type of training can benefit both employees and managers.

For managers, understanding how to manage and avoid minor issues turning into conflict can be a great way to create a happier workforce. Likewise, appreciating how to provide solutions for conflicts that do occur can save a lot of wasted time in terms of lost productivity.

For staff, understanding techniques for engaging with fellow employees makes for a much happier workforce. These are skills that staff can also use outside of work for their own social and personal lives.

2. Motivation Skills

If you are in charge of any other staff in your role, having a good understanding of Motivational and Influencing Skills is a valuable tool to have.

Knowing how to communicate the rewards, the benefits, and how to make staff feel wanted and valued, is not always easy. Master the art of motivating your team though, and you can expect improved productivity.

3. Active Listening Skills

When we think we are listening, are we really listening? We are often thinking of what we will say next, for example, rather than properly focusing on the word being spoken by the other person.

In business, as discussed in reference to conflict management, the cause of many problems inside and outside of the workplace, are caused by a lack of listening skills. (Find Active Skills training materials here).

4. Dealing With Difficult People

Our training course materials on Dealing With Difficult People is a classic option that can benefit all staff.

For those front-line staff who deal with customers, such a course provides techniques and ways of dealing with the customers in a constructive and positive manner.

For managers and HR staff who deal with other employees within the business, the techniques for dealing with difficult people is equally as essential.

Train the trainer online course
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5. Empathy in the Workplace Skills

Empathy in the Workplace training might seem pointless in that surely we all have empathy for others right?

The way in which we show empathy for colleagues and our team members can often be misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Indeed, there are certain techniques and methods we can learn for showing compassion and understanding at work.

Furthermore, we simply may lack the understanding, expertise of knowledge for some issues that our colleagues experience.

In this respect, taking training on topics such as ‘Understanding Menopause in the Workplace‘ and ‘Disability Access‘ can complement ‘Empathy training’, through having a great understanding of common issues that colleagues experience.

6. Communication Skills

You might feel that you communicate well both in the workplace and outside of work, but do you? And do your colleagues or team communicate well?

In terms of Interpersonal skills training, communication skills are one of the most popular courses that many companies tend to offer, given that it acts as a good all-round workshop.

Communication Skills training includes listening, feedback, and non-verbal communication (such as Body Language).

Intercultural communication training course materials
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7. Assertiveness Training

Trying to get the balance right when dealing with other people can sometimes be very confusing and difficult and this is certainly true when it comes to the issue of being assertive.

This is what makes assertiveness training such a useful interpersonal skill.

At work, we sometimes need to be assertive, such as when we are managing other people. But how assertive can you be without being seen as bullying someone?

Assertiveness training is another of those interpersonal skills that will make you a better co-worker, manager, and person in general, once you understand some key techniques for finding the right balance when it comes to assertiveness.

8. Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication

Our Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication training materials have been instantly popular since we introduced it and this perhaps highlights the awareness within companies of the need for this interpersonal skills course.

Many of us now work in an environment with colleagues of various backgrounds, cultures, and religious preferences.

For this reason, having a core understanding of techniques for being able to communicate well in such an environment has multiple benefits.

By becoming more knowledgeable, understanding and compassionate around colleagues from various backgrounds, we create a more unified and happier workplace.

Free Training activities and ice breakers PDF

9. Anger Management

In terms of interpersonal skills, Anger Management is, in some respects, a key interpersonal skill given the high level of disruption that even one wayward employee can create amongst fellow employees.

This is a course and skill that can greatly benefit managers who have to deal with unruly staff, as well as being a worthwhile course for those who easily get angry.

Anger management training design

10. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence training is particularly important in certain careers, such as nursing, because empathy and compassion are core skills included under emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence training can be very useful in helping employees understand how to show compassion correctly, including when providing feedback, when dealing with change and failure.

More on emotional intelligence here.

How to Improve your Interpersonal Skills

If you are a Human Resources (HR) department, there are a number of Interpersonal skills courses you can provide your staff and you can find the list of our Interpersonal Skills Training materials here.

These packages are fully customizable and can be downloaded instantly and they provide everything you will need to teach the given workshop.

Using Interpersonal Skills on Your Resume (CV) and Cover Letter

The skills section of your resume or CV is the place to list some of the interpersonal skills that you have developed.

For work that involves dealing with a lot of people and where compassion and understanding is a key aspect of the job, mentioning these skills will be of value.

Jobs such as nursing (as previously mentioned), teaching, mental health counselor, and event planners, are a few examples where people’s skills can be a key to doing the role successfully.

You might want to simply list your people’s skills something like this:

Extras Skills: Experienced at dealing with people, great communication skills, and good listener.

Alternatively, in your cover letter, you might want to briefly mention the experience you have of dealing with other people, like this:

I spent three years working as a waiter having to deal with customers in a busy restaurant, during which I learned great people management skills.

For the last two years, I have also been a volunteer in an old people’s home, helping out on weekends to listen and chat with residents. From this, I have developed great active listening skills.

I hope you have found this post useful and have a much better idea now of what Interpersonal skills (or People’s skills) are.

Now for a FREEBIE for you! Below you can download our FREE 54-page eBook with 25 Training activities in it, that you can freely use in your training.

Course materials for teaching interpersonal skills in the workplace
>> Teaching Materials – Interpersonal skills
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono