Today we want to talk to you about a very important aspect when building relationships and working with other people, such as your students, your co-workers and even your friends interpersonal skills.
What are the interpersonal skills?
Interpersonal skills are the skills we use every day when we talk and interact with other people, both personally and in groups. Interpersonal skills include a wide variety of skills, although many focus on communication, such as listening, questioning, and understanding body language. They also include the skills and attributes associated with emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and those of others.
People with good interpersonal skills serve to be able to work well in an organisation or group, and with other people in general. They can communicate effectively with others, be they family, friends, co-workers or in your case, your students. Therefore, they are vital in all areas of life. at work, in education and socially.
We have all been developing these skills since childhood, usually unconsciously. They are something natural that we take for granted, we do not stop to reflect on how we communicate with others. However, sometimes they can be holding back your relationships. Therefore, a good first step is to look at how you communicate.
By becoming aware of how you interact with others and through practice, you can improve your interpersonal skills. And this is precisely what we come to today to emphasize some key aspects to become aware and improve your interpersonal skills.
Tips to improve interpersonal skills
Listen with an open mind.
Where is your mind when you are listening? There are times when we listen paying close attention to what the person speaking is saying, with patience and tolerance. Instead, other times, our mind wanders and sits in a place of judgment and impatience, wanting to get to the point.
Listening is the epicentre of any healthy social relationship.
Listening with an open mind means listening with curiosity, compassion, and patiently. Give opportunities to deepen and strengthen relationships.
Pay attention to body language.
You may have heard it a thousand times, but actually, non-verbal communication can say much more than the words that come out of your mouth. Sometimes the true message you want to communicate is delivered through your tone, volume, pace, and body language.
It is necessary and important to examine your non-verbal expressions and consider how you interpret those of others.
Sometimes you can not get the message you want because of body language. When you talk to someone and notice a mismatch between their word choice and their non-verbal communication, your trust in that person unconsciously decreases. The same in reverse.
For example, if someone tells you “ nothing is wrong ” with folded arms and a slightly surly tone, no matter how much the message is “don’t worry”, you don’t perceive it that way, do you?
We must match what we say with what we express, and the first step is to focus your attention on your non-verbal cues. You may not be able to change those of others, but you can change yours and learn to interpret those of others.
And, isn’t that an interesting aspect to put into practice with your students? Surely you can propose an activity in which body language is worked and help them understand the importance of giving a congruent message when communicating.
Expand cultural competence.
Cultural competence is the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people of cultures or belief systems other than your own. It is the ability to navigate through cross-cultural differences, whether it be to teach students, collaborate with co-workers, or socialize with friends or new people.
Be aware of your own identity but also of the differences that may exist, be they generational, racial, gender, national, etc. and of the unconscious biases that we carry out. Culture can play an important role in communication, emotions, rule compliance, and relationships.
And don’t forget that the traits we share in common (which there always are) can offer opportunities to build bridges in favour of relationships.
Know how to manage conflicts.
Neither you nor anyone else likes to have conflicts, problems or misunderstandings with another person. But the reality is that it is very difficult that they never arise. A conflict can strengthen or undermine a relationship, but most of us are reluctant to them, we try to get around them as best we can, and we often lack the necessary skills to deal with them. Probably because since we were little we have been educated to avoid them.
But we need to learn to handle them, especially when you are in command of a class.
Although it may cost you, if you have a problem or complaint about someone, take it directly to that person. Don’t keep it to yourself, don’t start telling everyone except the person involved, don’t let it go. Things must be solved at the moment to avoid grudges, resentments and major conflicts. It costs but we guarantee that, in the long run, you and the people around you will thank you.
Strong communication and a healthy community can strengthen us through tough times, bring joy into our lives, and enhance our resilience.
In addition, not only can you work them on a personal level, but you can help your students to develop and improve them through activities and exercises, allowing them to gain a very powerful tool for their future.