Interpersonal skills at work
Definition specifically related to the work context
In the workplace, interpersonal skills draw on the ability to build relationships within a team of individuals who have complementary skills, with a view to achieving expected results through collaboration and cooperation. It involves the ability to establish interpersonal relationships based on trusting and understanding others. These relationships involve each person’s values, expectations and emotions. They also guide people’s behaviour, while taking into account everyone’s needs and the frequently implicit social rules of the work context.
Workers who demonstrate “social intelligence” are able to show empathy and quickly, directly and significantly connect with others in the workplace. “Socially intelligent” workers possess the following skills: receiving and giving feedback constructively and respectfully; perceiving and understanding non-verbal communication; managing and resolving conflicts; and adapting their style of interaction to the work context.
The importance of interpersonal skills is growing in workplaces that are becoming more and more complex and diversified in terms of culture, and where the organization of work relies increasingly on teamwork and collaboration. In this regard, robotics and new technologies will never replace a workers’ social intelligence, such as their ability to assess and manage everyone’s emotions and base collaborations on sound professional relationships. Employees who demonstrate interpersonal skills will always have an advantage over technology.
In workplaces, collaboration and teamwork regularly unfolds virtually. Thus, workers need to develop new strategies to create and maintain effective virtual interactions. This requirement does pose new challenges in terms of interpersonal skills.
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