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In matters of being hired, being happy and being selected for advancement opportunities within the workplace, strong interpersonal skills are essential. So much of your workday involves interfacing with other people – whether clients, coworkers or managers – that doing so not only effectively but superbly is one of the most visible and important ways you can set yourself apart from fellow employees.
Essential to just about any job are effective written, spoken and nonverbal communication skills. To be taken seriously, facilitate productivity, avoid conflict and express yourself clearly to clients and others, you must strengthen your ability to say what you mean and say it well. If you also realize that effective communication relies upon listening actively and thoughtfully before proffering your own thoughts, you will fare that much better on the job.
Having a positive attitude goes beyond the mere avoidance of being the office grouch and expressing negative perspectives. Active displays of enthusiasm such as greeting people cheerfully, smiling during your interactions with others, offering praise, expressing appreciation and accepting tasks and challenges with an optimistic attitude and can-do spirit make you a delight for everyone at work to be around. Consistently projecting a positive attitude also demonstrates to management that you value and appreciate the company you work for.
Showing the people around you that you are interested in them and care about their happiness and well-being relies upon being observant and considerate of what's going on in their lives. Asking coworkers about their children, their days, their weekends, outside projects and other meaningful subjects makes them feel valued. Acknowledging major events such as birthdays or recent losses, or minor events including new haircuts and new shoes, further establishes positive rapport between you and the people you work with. Close and thoughtful attention to clients helps you offer insights into additional services, products or approaches they might be interested in considering from your company. Diligent attention to work processes and concerns of your employer helps you gain a strong sense of how to take initiative and make valuable contributions.
In addition to showing the people around you that you're interested in them and their lives, you should show them that you value their perspectives regarding work and company projects. Including others by asking for their input and opinions is demonstrative of your team spirit, open-mindedness and willingness to cooperate. Additionally, you should encourage a socially inclusive work environment by treating everyone with equal interest and attention, staying away from showing favoritism and clique formation.
The occasional conflict at work is inevitable. Thus, adeptness at addressing conflicts calmly and considerately – showing willingness to compromise when you are the one at odds with another or the ability to mediate to bring about a resolution between others at odds – is another valuable interpersonal skill that can prove handy on the job.
W.D. Johnson is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and educational consultant. She specializes in writing development, test preparation and college admissions. Johnson graduated as a writing major from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts in 2008.