Simply, “interpersonal relationship skills,” or, more commonly, “interpersonal skills,” refers to an individual’s ability, natural or otherwise, to communicate on a daily basis with other people. An individual with poor interpersonal skills is unable or unwilling to adapt to his or her environment for the purposes of communicating in a clear and generally friendly and cooperative manner. An individual with good interpersonal skills is adept at speaking and presenting him- or herself in an open and engaging manner while communicating clearly and concisely. As importantly, positive interpersonal skills involve being receptive to the input of others; in effect, being a good listener. Many professions, including teaching, sales, public relations, politics, and others place a premium on hiring employees who possess good interpersonal skills. Some professions, especially those that do not involve a lot of interaction with coworkers or with colleague or associates from other organizations, do not always require as high a level of such skills as do those positions that depend upon cordiality and superior communications ability.
For many people, interpersonal skills come naturally as a product of their personality. The ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely may not be as natural, but can be learned. For individuals who are more introverted and less inclined to engage others in conversation, such skills have to be developed if they are to succeed in many professional and social endeavors.
There are a number of games and social activities that can be used to develop or refine interpersonal skills, including many readily available on the internet. A good starting point is an ebook available, for free, online at www.dannypetty.com/ebook_social_skills.pdf. This book, Building Social Skills through Activities, by Danny Pettry II, includes 20 activities designed to test and improve individuals’ abilities to function in social and professional environments. Such activities as conducting mock interviews and playing games that involve teamwork help to foster interpersonal skills, including emphasizing the importance of being a good listener. For children and teenagers, a useful website is www.parentingscience.com/social-skills-activities.html. As it is presumed that the purpose of the question is more oriented toward adulthood, however, activities simple questionnaires that test one’s self-perception with regard to interpersonal and social skills can be found at www.psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/.
Developing interpersonal skills within the workplace or within professional or social organizations can involve activities as simple as team competitions involving completion of basic tasks that require individuals to work together collaboratively, such as putting together a puzzle or building a structure with blocks. Play-acting, for example, as though at a party, in a business meeting, or pretending to “bump” into each other in a store and engaging in impromptu conversation can also be useful in assessing and developing interpersonal skills. Such activities are common in organizations experiencing increasing tensions among employees and between employees and managers.
In a business, interpersonal relationships are very important. They refer to, as Wikipedia describes it,
An interpersonal relationship is a strong, deep, or close association/acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring.
Within the workplace, companies can succeed because of the interpersonal relationships between employees. For this reason, many firms will engage in exercises or game-like activities to develop these skills and start creating bonds between employees that are difficult to create in a work environment.
McGraw-Hill has a free resource online which outlines some exercises that can be done in the workplace. They involve activities like a guided conversation with the following instructions:
Find a peer or adult who is willing to talk with you about diversity in the workplace. Choose someone who is different from you in order to explore contrasting points of view. The questions you ask will depend in part on the person and the ways in which you are different. Read the questions below to help guide your conversation. After the conver- sation, answer the questions that follow.
The questions include things like:
What comments, joke, and actions would we react differently too? How would we each react? Why?
What do diverse people need to do in order to work well together?