People skills are those skills that help you to get along with others, communicate effectively, work well in teams, collaborate, and network with others.
These skills are considered desirable in both the workplace and personal life:
- In the workplace, employers want to hire people who will contribute to a collaborative environment and work well with important stakeholders such as clients.
- In personal life, people skills means you will be able to make more contacts and friends, as well as being able to get along with members of your community in order to grow your social network.
Fortunately, people skills can be developed and refined through practice, self-reflection, and learning from experiences and others. So, we can all develop and improve on this area of our lives.
People Skills Examples
1. Non-Verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication involves being able to convey or interpret messages without using words. It could be through body language, facial expressions, gestures or tone of voice.
People who excel in non-verbal communication have a grasp of the unspoken aspects of conversations. They are observant and sensitive to the cues others give off.
They use this skill to understand others’ emotions and feelings better, improving their connection and interaction with them.
Researchers argue that non-verbal cues are often “a more reliable indicator of people’s true feelings” than what they’re actually saying.
So, command of these cues is really important as a people skill in order to communicate yourself most effectively.
Example: You nod at the person who’s talking to you, demonstrating that you’re following what they’re saying and encouraging them to continue.
See More: Examples of Non-Verbal Communication
Etiquette is the demonstration of good manners and rules of behavior that are considered socially acceptable. It involves showing respect for others and conducting oneself with integrity.
I found it funny to learn that it comes from an old French word to mean “keep off the grass”.
People with high levels of etiquette understand how their actions affect those around them. They exhibit respectful behavior in all interactions, regardless of the circumstances or the individuals involved.
They add value to the social and professional environments they’re part of; they create a respectful, courteous platform for others to feel valued and comfortable. Plus, it speaks volumes about their character and personal values.
Example: When someone cooks you a meal and serves it to you, you wait until they have sat down before you start eating out of respect for them.
3. Active Listening
Active listening involves fully concentrating, understanding, responding to, and remembering what someone is saying.
It’s a key element of effective communication. Being a good listener means more than just hearing the words spoken; it determines how you interpret and understand them.
Several active listening skills listed by Canpolat and Kuzu are:
“following along with both the head and eyes, making eye contact, generating feedback, sitting up straight, and paying attention to gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and stresses in speech”
People skilled in active listening are excellent communicators. They make others feel valued, understood, and important. They are the ones who can bring harmony to a group, resolve conflicts, and foster understanding.
Example: While talking to someone, you paraphrase their points to ensure you have understood correctly and ask questions based on their statements, demonstrating that you have been actively listening and processing the conversation.
See More: Examples of Active Listening
Motivation is about inspiring others to action, it comprises the skills needed to influence people to do things they might not otherwise do.
This might involve encouraging team members to achieve their goals, or motivating them to perform to their best potential.
People who have the ability to motivate are often natural leaders. They have the power to influence behavior and work performance positively.
These sorts of people have the ability to uplift people around them, infuse a positive energy, and drive others to exceed their own expectations.
Example: A project manager consistently praises their team’s hard work and encourages them even in the face of a challenging situation. They highlight the end goal and the satisfaction of achieving it, instilling enthusiasm and dedication in the team.
Persuasion is a communication skill that involves convincing others to come around to your point of view. This is not about manipulation, but about being able to eloquently express your ideas and sway opinion in a respectful and effective way.
Those with strong persuasive skills excel in roles where negotiation, debate or discourse is key. They can influence decisions, drive change, and propel a mission or cause forward.
Example: A team leader might utilize persuasion skills to gain buy-in from team members for the adoption of a new strategy or procedure. They would articulate the benefits and address any concerns, with the ultimate aim of generating consensus.
See More: A List of Examples of Persuasion
Networking is the ability to cultivate and maintain relationships with a diverse group of people. It’s about making connections, sharing information, and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships.
Benefits of networking identified by Pittaway et al. (2020) include: “obtaining access”, “‘pooling complementary skills”, and “obtaining access to external knowledge”.
In my estimation, people who excel in networking have a huge leg up in life. They have a wide range of contacts they can rely on when seeking a job or requiring others’ assistance, and overall, there are so many doors open to them in life.
Example: During a professional conference, a marketing expert takes the initiative to introduce themselves to other attendees. They chat about their respective work, share insights, and exchange contact information for future communication.
See More: Professional Networking Examples
7. Building Rapport
Building rapport is about creating a relationship of mutual trust, friendship, or emotional affinity. It means forging meaningful relationships with diverse individuals based on respect and mutual understanding.
I first learned this phrase when I was doing an internship training to be a teacher. I was told “you have good rapport with the kids,” and I was like “what does that mean?” Well, it turns out it meant that I was able to develop trusting and meaningful connections with them quickly.
Those who can build rapport effectively excel in establishing meaningful relationships, which fosters a conducive environment for open communication and cooperation.
This essential people skill aids in conflict resolution, relationship building, and effective collaboration.
Example: If you’re new in a company, you make an effort to introduce yourself to your colleagues, remember their names, understand their roles, and show genuine interest in them as people. This engagement helps build rapport, letting them know you value their interaction and are approachable.
Diplomacy is about navigating complex social or professional situations with tact, empathy, and wisdom. Diplomatic people are able to handle sensitive issues with grace, ensuring all parties feel heard and respected.
Obviously, this is an important skill for leadership.
Diplomatic skills “fulfill an important role in maintaining harmony in groups”. People with these skills are excellent at conflict resolution and maintaining good relationships, even when differences arise.
These people often excel as negotiators and their diplomatic capabilities often build much-needed bridges between disparate stakeholders, ensuring smoother personal and professional relationships.
Example: When two team members have differing opinions on a project, a diplomatic team leader will acknowledge both perspectives. They would encourage civil discussion and help each party see the other’s viewpoint to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
See More: Examples of Diplomatic Skills
9. Reliability and Punctuality
Being reliable means others can count on you. When you say you’ll do something, you do it. Punctuality is a part of reliability as it refers to turning up on time, when you said you will.
Professionals who exhibit reliability and punctuality build trust with their colleague, demonstrating that they don’t shirk their responsibilities. They’re dependable and follow through on what they’ve committed to doing.
As a result, you’ll become more respected and relied-upon in both social and professional contexts.
Example: If you’re assigned a task during a team meeting, you work on it and deliver on time. If you commit to being at a meeting at a certain time, you show up at that time or even a few minutes early.
10. Sincerity and Authenticity
Sincerity is the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy. Authenticity means being genuine and true. To be sincere and authentic is to be true to yourself and completely honest with others.
People who demonstrate sincerity and authenticity in their interactions create trust and hold the respect of others. They may be vulnerable at times, but their open and genuine approach attracts others and cultivates stronger personal and professional relationships.
Take, for example, politicians: we don’t like a politician who “sounds like a politician”. We want one who sounds like they’re saying what they genuinely believe, not what their donors want them to say!
Example: When providing feedback to a coworker, you do so with honesty and tact, giving hard feedback when needed, but reassuring them you have their best interests at heart, and you wouldn’t want to lie to them. You recognize their efforts and provide constructive criticism, genuinely wanting them to improve. Even in difficult conversations, your sincerity shines through because you remain respectful and empathetic.
See More: Examples of Being Authentic
Full List of People Skills
- Active Listening
- Clear Communication
- Non-Verbal Communication
- Conflict Resolution
- Giving Compliments
- Accepting Compliments
- Constructive Feedback
- Critical Thinking
- Building Rapport
- Cultural Awareness
- Reading the Room
- Willingness to Listen
- Memory of Others
 Bull, P., & Frederikson, L. (2019). Non-verbal communication. In Companion encyclopedia of psychology (pp. 852-872). Routledge. (Source)
 Paternoster, A. (2022). The Origin of Etiquette. In Historical Etiquette: Etiquette Books in Nineteenth-Century Western Cultures (pp. 143-190). Cham: Springer International Publishing. (Source)
 Canpolat, M., Sekvan, K. U. Z. U., Yildirim, B., & Canpolat, S. (2015). Active listening strategies of academically successful university students. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 15(60), 163-180. (Source)
 Pittaway, L., Robertson, M., Munir, K., Denyer, D., & Neely, A. (2004). Networking and innovation: a systematic review of the evidence. International journal of management reviews, 5(3‐4), 137-168. (Source)
 Roos, C. A., Koudenburg, N., & Postmes, T. (2020). Online social regulation: when everyday diplomatic skills for harmonious disagreement break down. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 25(6), 382-401. (Source)
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. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]