Building People Skills


The Need for Other People

People need to communicate with each other because they have needs and goals, whether they are goals such as satisfying our basic needs for food, shelter and clothing; or higher goals of social or work. You cannot have a friend by yourself, you cannot be employed unless there is an employer, and you cannot obtain a certificate or degree from college or university without the help of others.

Relationships and Interdependence

Relationships are built on interdependence. You are interdependent if you share mutual goals with another person, such as playing music in a band or having a game of tennis. You are interdependent if what you want to do requires the other person to coordinate his or her actions with yours. When you are interdependent with another person a change in the state of the other person causes a change in your state, and vice versa. For example, if you are sad the other person feels concern, and if the other person is happy you feel pleased. When the actions of other people are required for you to achieve your goals and when what happens to them affects you, you and they are interdependent and in a relationship.

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills

Life without other people would be very lonely indeed. Interpersonal relationships are essential for our personal wellbeing in many ways, helping us to grow and develop cognitively and socially, to build a positive and coherent personal identity, and to feel we are firmly in touch with reality.

Self Awareness

Our identity is built out of our relationships with other people. As we interact with others we note their responses to us, we seek feedback as to how they perceive us, and we learn how to view ourselves as they view us. From the reflections of others we develop a clear and accurate picture of ourselves. When others view us as worthwhile we tend to view ourselves the same way. The characteristics we admire in other people we try to incorporate into ourselves. In our relationships with other people we adopt social roles, such as that of teacher, engineer, or student. It is within our relationships that we discover who we are as persons.

Personal Development

We depend on other people to make sense of our world, to help determine what is real and what is illusory. We depend on other people to validate our perceptions and impressions. This is called social comparison. In order to make sense of the world we need to share our perceptions and reactions with other people and find out if other people perceive and react in the same way.

Quality of Life

Life is a search for daily meaning as well as for daily bread. And the primary determinant of meaning is other people. When a national sample of people were asked “What is it that makes your life meaningful” almost all respondents said “friends, family, lovers, and feeling loved and wanted by others”. The primary determinant of happiness is other people. When asked “What makes your life happy” the most common answer is “intimate relationships”.

Career Success

At any stage in your career or in any field, interpersonal skills are likely to be the most important set of skills to your employability, productivity, and career success, and that these skills are valued by employers as higher than any formal training or education. The question all employers have in mind when they interview each job applicant is “Can this person get along with other people”?

Learning Interpersonal Skills

    • Firstly you must see the need for the skill
    • Understand that it has many parts, not just one
    • And then practice

Interpersonal Skills involve:

1. Creating a Communication Climate - built on openness, honesty and trust, which comes from the goodwill felt towards one another. 

2. Showing Empathy - simply recognising emotions in others, and being able to ‘put yourself in another person’s shoes.

3. Self Disclosing - is being open and honest with other people, and revealing to them how you are reacting to the present situation.

4. Giving and Receiving Feedback - when other people disclose how they are reacting to your behaviour, they are giving you feedback.

5. Assertive Behaviour - individuals who behave assertively are acknowledging their rights as individuals and also the rights of other people.

6. Networking - important as it builds contacts and at the same time, develops your interpersonal skills. 

Tip - Practice

The next step is to not isolate yourself but to put all this into practice, which is the only way you will improve and perfect your skills. Start with your friends and family, and then practice on your work colleagues. Once you have learnt these skills it can be the differentiating factor that sets you apart in your career and personal success.


Building People Skills Workbook

Continue with Building People Skills by purchasing the full workbook on this topic.  Learn more about interpersonal skills including how to self disclose, give feedback, be more assertive, and network.  The workbook is packed with lots of tips, activities, and templates to help you improve your people skills to use in your everyday work and life.  Sharpen your people skills further by engaging your own private Coach.  Contact Us.  In its original state the workbook can be used by facilitators for short workshop presentations.


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