What are interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills are abilities that you use to interact with other people. There are two main types of interpersonal skills:
- Interpersonal soft skills: Natural parts of your personality that help you deal with people, like openness and positivity
- Interpersonal hard skills: People skills that you learn in school or at work, such as technical writing and foreign languages
Interpersonal skills examples
Here are examples of good interpersonal skills that will help you in any work, study, or social situation:
- Creative expression
- Ability to motivate
- Positive attitude
- Written communication
- Body language interpretation
Job-specific interpersonal skills
Below are lists of interpersonal skills that you’ll need if you work in:
- Active listening
- Phone & email etiquette
- Cultural sensitivity
- Child development skills
- Intergenerational communication
- Public speaking
- Giving feedback
- Digital communication
- Conflict resolution
- Managing expectations
Interpersonal skills for specific situations
The following interpersonal skills are good for collaborating with others and growing your network of professional contacts:
- Clear communication
- Social awareness
Frequently asked questions about interpersonal skills
Need more information about people skills? Here are the answers to five of the most common interpersonal skills questions:
- Why are interpersonal skills important?
- How can you improve your interpersonal skills?
- What’s the difference between intrapersonal and interpersonal skills?
- How do you demonstrate your interpersonal skills on your CV?
- How can you show your interpersonal skills in an interview?
1. Why are interpersonal skills important?
Interpersonal skills are important because being able to interact with people helps you succeed in every part of your life:
At school, you need your interpersonal skills to participate in the classroom, work on group projects, and start building your professional network.
In the workplace, your interpersonal skills let you collaborate with coworkers, managers, and clients. If you have a hard time fitting in at the office, you probably won’t be considered for leadership roles, which require smooth communication with upper management and the people you supervise.
In your personal life, people skills are important for building meaningful relationships with your family and friends. Don’t think personal relationships are important? Studies show that a lack of interpersonal skills may lead to both mental and physical problems.
2. How can you improve your interpersonal skills?
You can improve your interpersonal skills by studying how to deal with other people, and then practising what you learn. Here are some ways you can study interpersonal skills:
- Read self-help books & articles (we like Succeed Socially)
- Take courses (Udemy has many social skills courses)
- Get a social skills coach
And these are some ideas for practicing the interpersonal skills you learn:
- Go to parties and other social events
- Set goals (such as starting one conversation at work each day)
- Keep a journal to build on your successes and learn from your setbacks
3. What’s the difference between intrapersonal and interpersonal skills?
The difference between intrapersonal and interpersonal skills is:
- intrapersonal skills are internal abilities you use to manage yourself, such as focus and self-awareness
- interpersonal skills are both internal and external abilities you use to interact with others, like conversation and observation skills
There is some crossover between intrapersonal and interpersonal skills because your self-management abilities affect the way you deal with other people. For example, your level of self-confidence determines how well you can take a joke.
4. How do you demonstrate your interpersonal skills on your CV?
You demonstrate your interpersonal skills on your CV by describing how you’ve used them to produce results at work. If possible, include hard numbers (like percentages, £ amounts, and numbers of people supervised) to impress employers.
5. How can you show your interpersonal skills in an interview?
Here’s how you can show your interpersonal skills in an interview:
- Have good posture (openness)
- Smile (friendliness)
- Give a firm handshake (confidence)
- Bring copies of your CV and cover letter (consideration)
- Take notes (active listening)
- Ask questions (curiosity)
- Speak clearly without using filler words (clear communication)
- Make small talk before and after the interview (conversation)
- Send a thank-you email (politeness)
Also, when you answer interview questions, give examples of how you’ve used your social skills to succeed. Your examples can come from your jobs, internships, volunteer work, and university projects.
For instance, if the interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you resolved a conflict, you could say something like:
“While working on a group video project for one of my marketing courses, two factions within the group nearly came to blows over whether to shoot our video in colour or black-and-white. I convinced them to take a break, researched colour vs. black-and-white advertisement studies relevant to our mock product, and was able to use the statistics I found to convince everyone that full colour was the way to go. We got top marks for the project, and many of us are still good friends today.”