When it comes to improving your interpersonal skills, it is always good to understand your typical response to dealing with questions, challenges and changes within the workplace. Have a read of the below scenarios, jotting down your answers as you go.
Question 1: When asked to take on an additional project you:
a) Take it willingly without discussion
b) Discuss priorities and timescales and agree appropriate deadline
c) Refuse it because of your workload
Question 2: When another member of staff approaches you to ask for your help you:
a) Put aside what you’re doing and give them your full attention then get stuck in to what they’ve asked
b) Tell them you don’t have the time and come back later
c) Listen to what they’ve got to say then agree an appropriate time, explaining your current commitments
Question 3: When meeting the director at the coffee machine you:
a) Get flustered and walk off quickly
b) Talk about your current projects, ideas and concerns
c) Ask relevant questions
Question 4: When meeting with suppliers you:
a) Provide them with a specification and don’t budge on price
b) Look at what the supplier needs then try and come to a reasonable agreement for both
c) Increase the budget and agree to their requests
Question 5: When meeting your direct report who consistently fails to send you through required information you:
a) Express the impact of the lack of information and ask for it again
b) Tell her/him off and threaten disciplinary
c) Ask her the reason behind the lack of information, discuss the consequences and agree a way forward
Question 6: When talking with a colleague at the coffee machine about their project you:
a) Nod your head and escape as soon as you can
b) Ask questions and provide feedback to the information
c) Hang on their every word but can’t think of anything useful to say
Question 7: When given feedback from your manager you:
a) Get angry and make excuses
b) Take it on board and agree to implement the suggestions
c) Discuss the feedback arriving at a way forward that meets both your needs.
How did you answer?
Your interpersonal skills are top-notch. You’re assertive and able to ensure your own needs are met whilst taking on board other people’s. You can empathise and understand the issues others face from their perspective. You’re able to accommodate their requests without compromising what you’re doing, manage expectations and maintain good relationships. You’re able to tailor your communication for different people and show interest in other people’s work programmes and personal lives. You’re able to identify the win-win solution in negotiations which builds trust and good relationships. You approach difficult situations with staff positively, allowing them time to speak and understand your perspective then come together to agree an approach which meets the needs of everyone. You are relaxed in your approach and welcome the opportunity to listen and provide feedback to others without jeopardising your own work schedule. You welcome feedback and are able to reflect on your performance, making improvements where you can.
Attention, Help Needed!
Your interpersonal skills need a bit of attention. Being assertive is good but not taking into account other people’s requirements and circumstances won’t encourage others to involve you in future opportunities. Building your ability to be empathetic will help. Ensure you engage others in conversation instead of talking at them with information you find important, ask questions and listen to the answers. Try and be flexible to arrive at a solution which meets everyone’s needs not just your own. You’ll alienate colleagues and won’t be known as a great person to do business with. Similarly if you intimidate your staff you’ll lose respect and the reason behind poor performance will never be identified. Instead of growing your team you’ll lose them quicker than you think. You don’t take kindly to feedback where your way is the only way. Generally, your likeability will be low and your saving grace is that you manage to get results.
You’re getting there but you will need to become more assertive. Taking new projects on and doing favours for others without discussion or consideration will get you immediate thanks, but in the long term you’ll be known for being unreliable with poor time management when you fall behind. Your eagerness to please means you’re hanging on people’s words without providing feedback or questions, although you’re listening it’s not useful communication. Try and relax and use opportunities with influential people to show them your personality and your likeability. Don’t roll over on your requirements in negotiations as you’ll lose respect from both supplier and your boss. Essentially, building your self-esteem is key to get you out of the pattern you’ve found yourself in. Believing in your approach will help assert yourself, ensuring everyone gets a win-win outcome.