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Interpersonal skills separate team members from team leaders

Interpersonal skills are communicative and behavioral tools that you use to effectively interact with others. Simply put, interpersonal skills are the way you get along with people. These skills can make or break your professional interactions.

Interpersonal skills make the difference between a good employee and a great employee, a team member and a team leader. While other parts of your professional profile are important, interpersonal skills give you an edge, showing employers that even if you may not be the most experienced candidate, you can bridge the gap with stellar communication.

Developing and applying your interpersonal skills can advance your job search, enhance your resume development, increase job interview prospects and help you get ahead.

Show that you can talk
to anyone

Show employers that you can talk to a diverse customer base and interact well with all of your colleagues. This means that you can easily adapt to different people’s temperaments, communication styles and energy levels.

Demonstrate your ability to convey information usefully

Regardless of your industry, there are always facets of your work that require you to communicate information clearly and concisely. This may include presentations, team building activities, negotiations, trainings or customer service.

Focus team success

People with strong interpersonal skills perform well on teams. They can both lead and take direction well, use their skills to include everyone equally, and offer useful feedback that is articulated well. When you bring a well-developed set of interpersonal skills into a job interview, employers notice this. While you are interacting with interviewers and team members, the employer is noting your skill set to evaluate your propensity for team-oriented success.

Illustrate your capacity to remain calm under pressure

Interpersonal skills require maturity and professionalism. You must remain calm and collected even in conflict or in high-stress circumstances. Your colleagues will reflect your courteousness back to you. This can keep conflicts from escalating and keep the office environment productive.

Exhibit how you fit into company culture

Interpersonal skills are not just about how you speak to people, but how you make them feel. This is important because employers often consider company culture when evaluating your candidacy — they want to know that you are qualified to do the job well, but also that your qualities add value to the culture. Likewise, job seekers must pay attention to of company culture during the job interview. Note the dress code, work traditions, environment and the overall “feel” you get when you walk into the workspace.

How to improve

As with anything that you want to improve or develop, self-assessment is key. The USDA has a skills assessment at wicworks.fns.usda.gov/wicworks/Sharing_Center/CT/Inventory.pdf. 

Be mindful of how people respond to you in your professional and personal life. Think about ways you can improve your personal interactions.