Human beings are social creatures. Most of us spend a lot of time interacting with the people around us. We meet our needs and accomplish our goals by associating and cooperating with others. So the ability to communicate and interact effectively with other people is essential.

Strong interpersonal skills have been linked to success in the workplace. Employees with good interpersonal skills can resolve conflicts, cooperate, and communicate. Compared to employees with poor interpersonal skills, they tend to produce a higher quality and quantity of work. They also tend to be more dedicated to their jobs, and they work more effectively with customers and coworkers.

So what specific skills do you need to have in order to interact effectively with others in the workplace? Silberman & Hansburg (2000) claimed that you must be able to do the following:

  • Understand people
  • Express yourself clearly
  • Assert your needs
  • Exchange feedback
  • Influence others
  • Resolve conflict
  • Be a team player
  • Shift gears (be flexible and resilient)

It’s a big list, and it’s possible that you may not be strong in all of these areas. But if that’s the case, don’t let it discourage you! A large amount of research indicates that training programs can lead to significant improvements in interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are not fixed and unchangeable – they can be learned and developed.


Silberman, M., & Hansburg, F. (2000). PeopleSmart. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.