Three Easy Ways To Improve Your People Skills
It might seem odd for us to be talking about people skills, but actually they are one of the most critical skills anyone in the workplace needs; particularly if you are working within HR and/or payroll. HR professionals will often categorise skills into ‘hard’ (skills that apply to specific functions, like computer programming) and ‘soft’ (skills that embrace all interpersonal relationships in selling a company’s products or services, including people skills). While the ‘hard skills are incredibly important, in order to be successful in any business you also need to be able to communicate effectively with a variety of people. This makes ‘soft’ skills ultimately more valuable and transferable than ‘hard’ skills. What’s more they can be taught or learnt with relative ease. If you are struggling with your interpersonal skills or would just like to learn how to communicate better, we have three tips for you.
Conduct Productive Conversations
For many people, a productive conversation is when one or ideally both parties gets something in their interest addressed or a problem resolved. But going in head first with your own requirements often sets the stage for an extremely stilted and unproductive conversation, with the person you are speaking with feeling unvalued if you appear to only want to talk about your issue. Instead, try starting conversations with comfortable general topics (plans for the weekend for example) to establish a rapport that can lead on to a more productive conversation around your needs. Focusing on the interests of the other person instead of your own can help here. Also always be on the lookout for opportunities to ask non-threatening questions. It might be challenging or awkward at first, but what people often forget is that anxiety goes both ways and both parties may be nervous if this is a new business relationship. So by embracing ‘small talk’ both parties are able to relax into a comfortable position and this paves the way for a mutually respectful and beneficial conversation.
We don’t just mean hearing what people are saying here, we mean really listening to them. Truly effective communicators are those who have learned to have a two-way conversation, that means listening carefully and responding to the other party as well as having your own say. Most people are so intent on speaking and having their opinions heard that they don’t really hear and take in what the other person is saying. Mastering listening often requires learning how to be silent and wait for the other person to express their viewpoint before responding instead of talking over them. Good listeners show empathy, opening the door to sharing information. Silence and listening often leads to active and fruitful conversation that will improve not only how you communicate with people but their impression of you as well.
Read Body Language
A lot of things can be said in a conversation without the need for words. Body language plays a key role in the way we communicate with people. 55% of communication is through body language, so it is important to learn to read and interpret it properly. Next time you have a conversation with someone, pay special attention to their body language. Signals like facial expressions, gestures, posture and eye contact can all reveal the true emotion of the person speaking, even if their words are saying the opposite. Once you understand this you will not only be able to adjust the way you are communicating if it is proving unpopular (for example changing tact if you see someone getting upset or angry) but you can also apply your observations to yourself. A relaxed expression and constant eye contact, for example, communicate self-confidence and openness that will allow you to relax the person that you are dealing with, making it easier to approach difficult topics or rally support.
HR professionals often find themselves solving disputes or issues that are often a result of simple miscommunication. Improving your interpersonal and communication skills not only prevents such issues from arising in the first place, but it can also help you develop a better understanding for the other people in your business and how best to interact with them. For more information or help dealing with an HR issue of your own, get in touch with eBOS today for a consultation.