Human beings are social creatures by nature, but how we relate to others matters. We learn how to interact with others by modeling behaviors observed at home, school, and other environments, but we don’t always learn how to do so skillfully. Strong interpersonal skills allow us to build and maintain healthy relationships, manage conflict, and enhance intimacy.
Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment
- Seek approval and affirmation from others, but fear criticism?
- Guess at what normal behavior is?
- Feel as if you are different from other people?
- Isolate yourself from and feel afraid of people in authority roles?
- Downplay your own accomplishments and good deeds?
- Lie in order to avoid conflict?
- Feel that others (or society) take advantage of you?
- Have problems developing and maintaining intimate relationships?
- Feel guilty when you stand up for yourself or put your needs first?
- Feel responsible for others and find it easier to have concern for others than for yourself?
- Have difficulty feeling or expressing your emotions?
If you find that you answered “yes” to a number of the above questions, you may benefit from learning strategies to improve your interpersonal skills.
Examples of Interpersonal Skills
Communication skills include both listening and speaking effectively. They involve actively listening to others instead of planning what you are going to say next, and responding in a way that considers how your response will impact the other person.
Assertiveness skills include asking for what you want or need, and saying “no” to another person’s request. Being assertive means being direct but kind, instead of making unreasonable demands or being passive-aggressive.
Conflict is natural and inevitable, and can actually be intimacy-enhancing! Conflict resolution skills help you resolve differences so that you may continue a relationship effectively. They involve working to understand one another’s perspective and coming together to resolve the issue.
Anger management skills involve recognizing and expressing anger appropriately in order to achieve goals, handle emergencies, solve problems, and even protect your health.