How to Sharpen Your Interpersonal Skills

Written by: Susan Hang

In an effort to be kinder (and happier) in the New Year, I wanted to touch on a topic rarely talked about these days…

WORDS. The way you write and talk are usually the two most important factors in connecting with others. And in an era where filters are non-existent, do you actually think about what you say and how others might feel? One of the platitudes I’m trying to live by is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” And these last few months, I’ve learned that the key to creating a happier environment and building authentic connections is learning how to  communicating clearly and effectively. If you’re looking to sharpen your interpersonal skills, here are 3 things to think about when it comes to words.

sharpen your interpersonal skills | Consider your personal feelings.

To some, words are just words and have no impact. However, words can be like blades grazing over skin; they have the power to wound and penetrate deep, and often leave a life-long impact. (Any writer knows this.) So before you speak, think about how you might feel if you were on the opposite end. If you’d be upset, it’s probably not worth speaking at all. And if you struggle to hold you tongue amid altercations, give yourself 10 seconds of silence. That’s usually enough time to realize that silence can be the best remedy. At the end of the day, having the last word or winning an argument benefits no one – and that’s your first step to maintaining friends and bringing up others.

#2 Put compassion and empathy first (always).

I 100% believe that you can be a better person by inspiring and empowering those around you – and in order to achieve that, you must be able to show compassion and empathize with others. You obviously know by that now that you won’t always agree with the decisions of those around you. You’ll be disappointed and want to cut people off, but stop to validate the other person’s actions for once. Accept that disagreements are perfectly fine and acknowledge them – then speak accordingly. When you put compassion and empathy first, you instantly become more relatable. And if you don’t know the person, shut those biases and prejudices out. They serve no place in authentic connections.

#3 Listen intently & pay careful attention.

Awareness is key if you want to sharpen your interpersonal kills – and you do that by talking less and listening more. Show that you’re curious by asking questions along the way. And as you listen, watch the other person’s body language; it’s been said that most communication occurs at the nonverbal level. That also means you should be aware of your own nonverbal cues… Consider your posture, facial expressions, and the distance between you and your subject. Don’t let distractions intercept your mind in the middle of a conversation. I’ve been guilty of this many times before – and I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to have to go back and ask what you’ve already been told.


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