Whether you're trying to increase your professional network or trying to land a job offer, having good interpersonal skills is extremely important. Although we've all heard stories about super-successful people like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Larry Ellison, who are mean, rude or appear oblivious to the feelings of others, being able to play well with others is crucial. In fact, during an interview, many of the behavioral questions you'll be asked will be about how well you can communicate and work cooperatively with others.
If you aren't sure about your people skills (or lack thereof), here are four signs that you need to work on them:
- Emotional Outbursts: If you are someone who gets visibly angry at work, causes others to feel threatened or often cries at your desk, you might need to work on your people skills. Despite the stereotype of the angry, yelling, successful boss that gets results, in reality, causing your co-workers to walk on eggshells around your feelings is a great way to ensure that you won't be promoted.
- Lack of Self-Confidence: Believing in yourself is about you, not about others, and it has a huge impact on the way you interact with others. If you don't believe that you're capable and that you have valuable things to share, no one else is going to believe it. Confidence isn't always something you're born with – in fact, many people really have to work at it. If you are uncertain about your job skills due to lack of training or experience, do whatever you can to address the issue. Often, it's a matter of gaining skills, practicing them, and improving them.
- Poor Self-Promotion or Networking Skills: Employers are impressed by applicants who know how to market themselves and who have strong professional networks. The reason isn't just because they make themselves easy to spot, it's because they are clearly demonstrating that they know what it takes to succeed and that they can navigate office politics and work well with others. Networking is about more than just shaking hands with the right people, it's about being able to communicate effectively with lots of different personality types.
- Inability to Coach or Mentor: One of the things that makes real experts stand out is that they have probably been a coach or a mentor in the past. People who are great at what they do and have excellent interpersonal skills are naturally going to be sought out to give advice and guidance to those who are just entering the industry. Having been a successful mentor shows great people skills and is something you should list on a resume and mention during an interview.
Although it's important to show your experience and education during an interview, it's equally important to clearly demonstrate that you have what it takes to work well with others and to navigate the tricky world of social management. If you're worried that your people skills aren't the best, maybe it's time to work on making friends.
What do you think about your people skills? Have you worked with people who just didn't have them? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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