Boost your interpersonal skills & get ahead!
Careers coach Penny Strutton is writing a weekly column for This Is Nottingham with advice for job seekers. This week she looks at how to boost your interpersonal skills to help you in your career development.
If you're beginning to lose your "in-work" mojo, now is not the time to become complacent and half-hearted, it's the time to switch on your interpersonal skills and start making an impression.
If you were to take a look around you and identify those people that tend to get a head and have opportunities dropped in their lap you'll probably find that their people skills are top notch. They may be open and approachable, consistent, have the ability to listen and know when to make comments – constructively. Essentially, they're positive and their positive approach makes a great impression on the company and on their colleagues. I'm not talking about a schmoozer, no-one likes to be blagged to, I'm talking about someone who is sincere and has integrity.
So where do you lie? Do you moan when you're asked to take on something new? Do you criticise when asked for your opinion? If yes, the time to consciously change your approach is now. if you're looking to move upwards or outwards from your current role your opportunities are often guided by who you know, and if you don't make a great impression then your referrals will be greatly reduced.
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I've talked endlessly about the hidden job market and the opportunities to gain employment without interview. It's about knowing what type of employment you're looking for and networking with the right people to get your foot in the door. It's about being at the top of an employer's list when they're looking for someone with your skills and personal approach. However, if you're known for lack of enthusiasm or your "no-can-do" attitude then opportunities are unlikely to come your way.
So, what are interpersonal skills for a start?
1. Empathy: Try and see the situation from other people's perspectives and tailor your approach to meet their needs. Not only will this build trust it will gain you support when you need it.
2. Communicating: think about your communication style when dealing with different people. Use the appropriate language to help others understand you and engage with what you're trying to get across. By seeking feedback you'll soon know if your message is being understood, and if it isn't, learn to tailor your style.
3. Listen: Listening is central to communication! Without listening you cannot fully understand someone. Stop what you're doing and pay attention, people communicate through their body language too.
4. Show interest: be positive and show an interest in people, ask questions, listen and show that you've understood.
5. Be assertive: don't confuse this with aggression! It's about ensuring your point is expressed in a manner which others can understand and respect. It's about expressing your own opinions, saying no when you need to and setting your own priorities. This shouldn't be to detriment of everyone else though!
6. Negotiate: The best outcome is a win-win outcome, so using these skills to arrive at solution that meets the needs of everyone will help build trust, respect and lasting positive relationships
7. Reflect: being able to reflect on your behaviour, review and improve
8. Relax: It's easier said than done, but if you're nervous or stressed this comes across in your communication and can weaken your impact.
How good would you say your interpersonal skills are? I've put together a fun questionnaire which can be found on my website http://www.pennystrutton.co.uk/?page_id=6 to help you measure how you relate to others. If you find you're scoring below your ideal, get in touch and I'll help you give them a boost!