Interpersonal skills or people skills are important to help us succeed and function in our personal and professional lives. While we all have those skills, they’re all at various levels. 

Before we dive into how to boost interpersonal communication skills, we will first define it and how it’s used.

What are interpersonal communication skills, and how are they used?

These skills are used in social situations that pertain to your personal and professional lives. 

They can include: 

  • working with others
  • communicating effectively and clearly
  • Being responsible and an effective leader
  • being adaptive and receptive to change
  • Showing empathy or sympathy
  • Being able to resolve conflict
  • Listening to others
  • Motivating or persuasion

How they’re used:

  • Asking someone how they’re doing or what is new with them
  • At home or in your personal life—giving your partner or children direction with what you need help with or what plans are. This could also be diffusing conflict between your children, and getting them to talk about their problems instead of yelling or acting out.
  • At work—being open to new ideas, able to pivot, or problem solve without issue. Another example could be showing grace and compassion to a colleague who is having a bad day or might have made a mistake.

How do you strengthen your interpersonal communication skills?

By working to strengthen these skills it will help improve your confidence and only help your personal and professional relationships. Depending on your scenario, you will find that you want to focus in on some skills more than others.

As we go through how to strengthen your skills, we will relate them to both personal and professional scenarios.

Be honest when assessing your current skill levels

When boosting your interpersonal communication skills, it’s critical to be open and honest when identifying your skills and weaknesses. Review the list of skills above and think of a positive and negative interaction you’ve had for both.

In the Workplace: this can be a time when you listened to a colleague’s ideas for a new process or project. From there, you can determine if that was a positive or negative interaction, and from there, you can figure out how it can be improved. This could be something as simple as giving a colleague more time to talk or being a more active listener. 

At Home: think about a time when something didn’t quite go as planned and how you used your skill set to remedy the situation. Maybe you needed help with housework and you asked your partner “if” they would help instead of asking them to help with specific tasks.

Create a plan

After assessing your skills, choose one area you would like to improve in. If you think you want to tackle two, that’s fine, but try to stick to two areas tops when starting out. Create an actionable and attainable plan.

Evaluate your plan and interactions

Once you have your plan in place, it’s important to give it time to improve and important to note that change won’t happen overnight. Maybe you notice that your colleagues or partner are being more helpful in areas where you previously took on the majority of the workload. This will be a trial process to see what is the most successful practice. 

Ask for feedback and be open to it. When getting feedback, avoid talking over people and finishing their sentences. It’s also important to be an active listener. Let the person you’re talking to know you’re listening by making eye contact, staying focused, and by nodding or responding when appropriate.

Boosting interpersonal communication skills should be a lifelong goal. There’s always room for improvement. Reach out to learn more about career coaching.

About the author(s)

Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.

About Cohesive Therapy NYC

At Cohesive Therapy NYC, we believe that you have an immense amount of inner strength and resilience, even if it is yet to be discovered. Cohesive Therapy NYC is a private group psychotherapy practice in New York City that focuses on treating adults who struggle with Anxiety, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and the adult impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Cohesive Therapy NYC therapists see clients all throughout New York State (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, and statewide) using online therapy and are also available for in-person visits in their NYC offices, located at 59 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022. We specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness, and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support.