Interpersonal skills impact every interaction you have with those around you, from workplace to personal and romantic relationships. People tend to interact with others in childhood by watching adults and modeling those behaviors. Learned behaviors throughout our lives, both positive and negative, forecast how we handle arguments, what our relationships look like, and how we treat other people.

Knowing how to improve interpersonal skills can benefit nearly every aspect of your social life, helping you to foster healthy relationships and manage conflict.

Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is like the IQ of emotional skills, comprising several skills that build upon each other and influence how you interact with those around you. Summed up, it is a measure of the ability to understand and express emotions and to use that understanding to influence and regulate them in both oneself and others.

EQ encompasses skills such as empathy, communication, self-regulation, and charisma, and people with higher EQs tend to report higher satisfaction with life and social relationships.

Developing emotional intelligence involves strengthening several social skills through activities such as

  • Developing self-awareness and empathy through mindfulness
  • Taking responsibility for your emotions and actions
  • Learning to understand and positively influence other people's thoughts and actions

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Choose Assertive Behaviors and Words

Many people confuse assertive and aggressive behavior, leading to interpersonal fallout. The primary difference between the two is that aggressive behaviors and communication are designed to change and control the other person's thoughts and actions, while assertive behaviors allow you to express yourself in a respectful manner.

Try using "I" statements while speaking rather than "You" statements. For example, introduce the topic by stating "I feel like I'm being ignored," instead of "You're always ignoring me."

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Learn Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are unavoidable in life, and knowing how to handle them healthily can improve relationships and mental health. Developing constructive conflict styles and the ability to resolve inevitable conflicts can boost relationship satisfaction and interpersonal skills.

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Ask for Feedback

Seeking feedback and constructive criticism can help you improve your interpersonal skills as well as your performance at work and in relationships. Asking for feedback requires being able to hear what the other person is saying and accepting that they mean well.

Ask questions that will directly result in a helpful, concrete answer, such as, "How can I better communicate with you?" or "What is something I could have done differently?"

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Reflect Honestly and Modify Behaviors

Honest self-reflection is pivotal to personal growth and the development of interpersonal skills, especially when you focus on how you interact with others. Self-reflection requires you to analyze your actions and thoughts, then make corrections to your behavior as necessary.

Try using a journal to track day-to-day actions, choices, and thoughts to spot patterns that need correcting.

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Use Positive Language

Positive language is a powerful tool that can influence much more than someone's feelings. The use of positive words can dull pain during medical procedures or promote motivation and performance.

Choose positive phrasing, such as "Let's try harder next time," instead of something critical, like, "You didn't do anything right."

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Learn to Self-Regulate

Self-regulation is a developed skill that allows people to recognize, manage, and control their emotions. People who have experienced trauma, especially in childhood, tend to struggle with this skill more than others.

Learning to self-regulate requires the ability to be self-aware in the moment, when emotions run high, and accept feelings for what they are. Mindfulness, stress management, and therapy can all help develop a stronger sense of self-regulation.

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Listen Actively

Active listening involves listening to understand rather than to answer, and it requires several qualities, such as patience, compassion, and empathy.

To listen actively, you need to hear what is being said and truly understand it, as if you were in the mind of the other person. Give them your undivided attention without judgment, and, before responding, summarize their comments to ensure you are on the same page.

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Learn to Work as a Team

Teamwork requires multiple people understanding and cooperating with each other. As a social species, people have always worked together to achieve goals, but certain circumstances are easier than others. Developing the skills to be a good teammate allows you to work with others effectively, with a medium-sized effect on performance. The ability to be a good teammate requires solid communication, cooperation, and compromise skills.

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Look for the Positive in Every Person

It's only natural that people don't like every other person they come into contact with. If you have to interact with someone you don't like regularly, it can be easy to fall into disrespectful behaviors toward them. Choosing to look for the positive in every person helps you to approach them with a different mindset.

Just as positive language can influence your behavior by limiting annoyance and other negative feelings, so can positive thoughts toward other people. Eventually, you may even start to lose some of that dislike toward the person thanks to the brain's neuroplasticity.

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