MYSUPPLIES BLOG

Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are invaluable at work. How your coworkers see you can have a big impact on your career long term, as well as on your day-to-day life.

You may be the most brilliant person at your company, but if you can't get along with your colleagues, you won't get far. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to strengthen your social skills and become a team player. These 10 actions will not only help you make better connections at work, they'll improve how others perceive you.

Put on a happy face.
People who are the life of the party usually have one thing in common: They're happy. If you smile often and have an upbeat attitude, your coworkers will be drawn to you. And when you're having a bad day, don't try to pull others down with you. You may find that people pass you by in favor of those with a more cheerful outlook.

Show that you care.
When it comes to praise, don't hold back the applause. If a coworker has done something you appreciate -- no matter how small -- thank them for it. Identify at least one attribute you value in each of your coworkers, and let them know about it. Give colleagues a warm welcome whenever they call you or visit your office. By showing others how much you care about them, you'll encourage them to do the same in return and give you their best work.

Be considerate of colleagues.
Take note of what's happening with your coworkers. Recognize the happy events in their lives -- from a birthday to a kid's kindergarten graduation -- and be sure to show your genuine compassion when they face any personal tragedy. Look people in the eye when you speak to them, and refer to them using their first names. Show colleagues you value their input by asking their opinions.

Be an active listener.
Unfortunately, active listening is becoming a lost art. Being an active listener shows that you intend to both hear and recognize another's perspective. Using your own words, repeat what the speaker has said. By doing this, you'll know that you've processed their words, and they'll realize that your answers have been genuinely thought out. Colleagues will feel more connected to you knowing that you're an active listener, and you'll develop a better understanding of them.

Promote togetherness.
Help coworkers thrive by creating a friendly, cooperative environment. Treat everyone the same, not like they're part of a hierarchy, and don't act like one person's opinion is more important than another's. Don't gossip about your colleagues. Always consider your coworkers' suggestions. After addressing a crowd, make sure you've been understood. If you follow these rules, your coworkers will come to identify you as a team player and someone who can be trusted.

Settle disputes.
You know how to bring people together, and now it's time to become the person they can turn to when disputes arise. When colleagues disagree, it can bring the mood of the whole office down, but you can improve the situation by taking on the role of moderator. Arrange to have a discussion with both of the aggrieved parties, and try to help them resolve their conflict. Not only will your office be a happier place, but you'll come to be known as a leader.

Be a great communicator.
In addition to being an active listener, you need to have otherwise great communication skills. When in a discussion with colleagues, don't blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, think carefully about the words you use. With clear communication, you'll be able to avoid any potential misunderstandings with colleagues.

A good speaker comes to be known as intelligent and mature, no matter their age. If you have a tendency to give voice to any half-baked thought that crosses your mind, people won't put great value in your opinions.

Make them laugh.
Funny people are popular for a reason, so if you've got a great funny bone, use it. As long as you avoid inappropriate jokes and don't laugh off serious situations, you'll find your colleagues will be drawn to you. Humor can even be a great way to break down barriers with that super shy coworker or moody boss.

Put yourself in their shoes.
An empathetic person can understand how another person feels, and empathy is an important trait when working with others. Always consider circumstances from another person's viewpoint. What may seem like the obvious, correct answer to you could have entirely different implications when seen from another perspective. Above all, keep tabs on your own feelings; people who are unable to tap into their own emotions often have difficulty empathizing with others.

Don't be a whiner.
Almost every office has a chronic complainer, and you'll notice they tend to be the least popular person in the office. If you constantly whine about this and that, your negativity will push others away from you. If there's something you really need to get off your chest, write about it in your journal or briefly chat about it with your friends and family. Otherwise, you'll risk being known as the office brat.


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