Interpersonal skills are skills that are valuable in social situations. They’re also called social skills, people skills, or social intelligence.
Examples of interpersonal skills include patience, consultation, mediation, tolerance, cooperation, and cultural competence.
In 21st Century workplaces, interpersonal skills are increasingly important. Most jobs today require teamwork, customer interaction, and project management.
Therefore, universities often work hard to teach interpersonal skills and employers will often ask job applicants to demonstrate their interpersonal skills during interview processes.
Interpersonal Skills Examples
- Conflict management
- Conflict resolution
- Constructive feedback
- Formative feedback
- Inspirational speaking
- Servant leadership
- Transformational leadership
- Active listening
- Nonverbal cues (body language)
- Public speaking
- Presentation skills
- Community Minded
- Cultural competence
- Cultural sensitivity
- Delegation skills
- Team Player
- Voice modulation
- Emotional intelligence
- Consensus building
- Eye contact
- Open-ended questioning
- Personal space
- Small talk
- Pedagogical skills
- Volume control
- Work Ethic
- Observational learning
- Interpersonal accountability
- Stakeholder expectations management
Best Interpersonal Skills for a Resume
See Also: Resume Skills Guide
Mediation is the ability to bridge the gap between two competing views on a topic. A mediator brings people together and helps them to find common ground.
This is a valuable skill for workplaces because all teams will have differences of opinions at times.
A good employee, and particularly a good team leader, will be able to mediate between the people who have disagreements.
This requires you to listen to everyone’s viewpoints and attempt to create space for people to discuss their viewpoints. Importantly, a mediator should encourage all parties to attempt to understand the other person’s point of view.
Furthermore, mediators should create an environment where everyone is looking to reach a common goal.
Consultation is an example of a leadership skill. When leaders consult with important internal and external stakeholders they will make better decisions that are more wildly accepted.
Democratic leaders are the sorts of leaders who consult people, especially internal stakeholders. These leaders will ask everyone in their team for their input before making a decision. This helps them to gather as much information as possible to make the best decisions possible.
But even entry-level employees need to have the ability to consult. For example, if you have a great idea for your project, you may need to consult team members as well as your boss.
3. Cultural Competence
Cultural competence refers to your ability to learn, acknowledge, and respect people of various cultures.
In an increasingly multicultural society, we all need to be able to understand and respect each other’s cultures because we all need to be able to get along.
Workplaces have come a long way with cultural competence. Poor workplace practices are increasingly being pushed out and inclusivity is encouraged.
We’re working toward ensuring workplaces are welcoming to everyone and allow people of various religions and cultures to continue to practice their cultural values. A good job applicant will show they’re at the forefront of the effort to create more culturally pluralist workplaces.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to working with others.
Students learn this early on during group work. Instead of being able to go full steam ahead on your own, you have to wait for other team members to complete their tasks or provide their input at various stages along the process.
Many people who are very intelligent often find patience to be their weakness. They want to do all the work themselves. So, they may be smart, but they get flustered and frustrated in groups.
5. Team Player
A team player will make sacrifices and not always get their own way. Their main focus will be on meeting the common team goal and not a personal aspiration.
Good team players will also ensure they don’t hold up the team because they’re too slow. They’ll show individual initiative to get their work done. We often call this interpersonal accountability.
If you’re applying for a job that requires to show your ability to be a team player, give examples and anecdotes about how you work well in teams. Talk about how you worked in a team to meet a common goal, and how the common goal was achieved through communication, collaboration, and even (at times) compromise.
Interpersonal vs Intrapersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills refer to skills that will help you to work well with others. Intrapersonal skills, on the other hand, refer to how well you can think about your own actions. Intrapersonal people are reflective, thoughtful, and always seeking avenues for personal self-development.
Here is a summary of some of each type of skill.
|Communication with others.||Communication with yourself.|
|Social skills.||Personal metacognitive skills.|
|Likes to work with others.||Likes to work alone.|
|Teamwork, collaboration, outward communication.||Reflection, self-care, inward communication.|
|High emotional intelligence.||High emotional intelligence.|
Ideally, we would all have both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. But it’s often the case that people with intrapersonal skills are introverted and prefer to work by themselves rather than with others. Nevertheless, these skills overlap significantly: they both require you to have high emotional intelligence.
How to Describe Interpersonal Skills on a Job Posting
Some job posting quotes that note interpersonal skills include:
- “The ideal candidate will have demonstrated skills in keeping multiple stakeholders appraised in a timely manner.”
- “Please demonstrate how you can work in a team to achieve common team goals.”
- “You must be able to work well with others in a collaborative team environment.”
- “You must have interpersonal skills for working with internal stakeholders, external stakeholders, and customers.”
- “You need to have strong communication skills, including the ability to mediate, collaborate, and cooperate with other team members.”
- “Explain in your application a time in which you have worked to resolve conflicts within teams.”
- “We are seeking a strong leader who can consult team members, manage multiple personalities, and communicate goals effectively.”
- “The ideal candidate will be able to manage, maintain, and build relationships with various teams in a fast-paced environment.”
- “We seek an experienced worker who is a people person. You will be interacting with clients regularly and need to be able to represent our brand with good humor and optimism every day.”
- “The successful candidate will be able to liaise with multiple teams and build consensus between stakeholders.”
Jobs for People with Excellent Interpersonal Skills
Just about any job that requires interaction with others will require some interpersonal skills. Below are just a small list of the countless examples.
- Customer Service Representative – You will often need to be able to handle complaints and diffuse tense situations.
- Accounts Manager – You will need to manage the accounts of important clients and maintain them as clients.
- Social Media Outreach Liaison – You will be cold calling and cold emailing people daily and trying to create relationships.
- Community Organizer – You will need to be able to bring community members together around common goals.
- Recruiter – You will need to charm people into meeting with you and accepting jobs with your clients.
- School Principal – You will need to interact with parents as well as your own staff and help them through problems and concerns.
- Team Leader – You will need to be able to manage various personalities in your teams and keep them all focused on a common goal.
- Media Liaison – You will need to be able to manage relationships with local and national media and ensure they hear your brand’s message.
- Bookings Coordinator – You will be working with clients to help them book trips. You’ll need to be able to help people through their concerns and educate them on their options.
- Executive Assistant – You will do a lot of the work of coordinating your boss’s calendar, including booking meetings and making calls to make arrangements for your boss.
- Therapist – You will need to empathize with your clients and listen closely to their concerns in order to help them through their problems.
- Event Organizer – You will be working with many stakeholders and making sure they all come together to ensure the event is a success.
Interpersonal skills are incredibly important in today’s economy. We’re always working either with customers or workmates to get our work done. Furthermore, workmates and customers are increasingly culturally and socially diverse. We need to be able to interact and communicate with all of these people in order to meet common interests and achieve a common goal.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.