Interpersonal skills are a distinguishing factor in what makes people successful. I’m not talking about us all needing to be extraverts, I’m talking about us being able to understand ourselves and others and relate to people in a way that builds connections and relationships. Many people refer to this as emotional intelligence.
I often hear employers talk about how job candidates’ interpersonal skills are lacking. Components of this include poor communication skills, low self-awareness, inability to control emotions and to read and respond to emotion in others. Many cite the constant connection to technology leading to the demise of strong interpersonal skills in people.
So how do you improve interpersonal skills? Because it is a somewhat nebulous concept, creating concrete actions to improve may also be a challenge.
So ways to build up interpersonal skills I would say would be to volunteer your services at some charitable function. Maybe help out in a soup kitchen. Something where you deal with the homeless or just people in general because you may think of yourself as a patient person, but you never really know how patient you are and good you are with people when you have to deal with people who may not be as privileged as you are. And you have to bite your tongue and you have to take yourself out of the equation.
And I think as you do things like that you build up empathy and interpersonal skills that all transfers over when you are talking to candidates. You won’t see them so much as numbers or resumes, you’ll see them as real people. And that will help you build bonds with candidates that will help you get more referrals from candidates, which will help you find people that don’t necessarily want to be found.
He’s saying to do something that doesn’t seem connected to our job which actually leads to better job performance and results. I totally agree with Jim although I don’t think I’ve ever even thought to give this simple advice to anyone looking to improve their interpersonal skills.
So, if you want to improve at the skill everyone seems to need, but the world seems to be wired to cultivate less of, sign up to volunteer at regular intervals where interaction with others, especially people who are less fortunate than you are, is required.
Employers would be wise to incentivize and support this type of effort in their workforce as well.
Where are you volunteering today?