Essay on Interpersonal Communication Skills


Communication has become an integral part of life and must-have skills. We need interpersonal skills not only to interact with each other in the context of the workplace, families, relationships, and nations, but also to transmit information and knowledge. According to Koprowska, (2020), interpersonal communication is defined as exchanging information, knowledge, feelings, and thoughts exchanged between two or more people. Individual use various of communication methods; words, body language, tonal variation, facial expressions, and gestures. Using effective interpersonal communication by an individual helps in personal growth, promotes a close relationship, promotes wellness, reduces stress, and improves the quality of life (Koprowska,2020). This essay focusses on showing the importance of effective interpersonal communication skills and emerging skills learned over the trimester incorporating feedback received from peers.

Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Repeating back in my words what the client said helped to bring the client awareness to his/her cognitions, emotions, and behaviors awareness. It encouraged the client to go deeper into the conversations and demonstrate empathy. According to Koprowska, (2020), paraphrasing and summarizing are more to repeating the words and interpreting the client’s emotions and behavior.

Reflection of content and feeling

Reflection of content involved reflecting back the content of what the client has said by picking the most important content information, but not repeating what the client has said, while the reflection of feeling is reflecting on the perceived emotional affect of the client such as tears or change in the tone (Destler, 2017). Combined reflection of content and feeling to bring feelings, cognitions, and behaviors awareness. Using appropriate words to reflect the client’s content and feelings was crucial to the success of the counseling sessions, for instance, ‘You are sad because of bullying at the work and the decision to leave your family and friends, if you accept the new job offer.’

Active listening skills

Counselors used active listening skills to help the client recognize that the counselor is listening attentively, interested in what the client is talking about, understanding and encouraging the client to continue talking (Geldard, & Foo,2019). Active listening skills include: nonverbal responses such as nodding, maintaining eye contact; using encouragers to continue talking such as ‘yes’, ‘really’, ‘ I understand’ which shows the attitude and approval, or disapproval; matching the language to the appropriate age group such as the use of vocabulary that the client will understand.

Use of questions

Designed the suitable questions at an appropriate time to meet different clients’ need. When working with the adults, one should be careful not to overuse questions to avoid turning the counselling into interrogation but a conversation (Destler,2017). Similarly, to young people to maintain interests in the session. There are two types of questions: an open question seeks a descriptive answer while a closed question demands a yes or no answer. Both types of questions encourage a conversation and make the client to self-disclosure. Moreover, the type of questions asked by the counselor makes him/her approachable and builds trust.

Importance of Effective Interpersonal communication skills

Personal development

Human beings are complex social beings. We develop social skills through continuously interacting with others. Social skills are primarily affected by predisposing factors; thoughts, feelings, and perceptions are learned and shaped by our social groups (Geldard, & Foo,2019). In my role play and course materials provided helped me to develop practical communication skills; listening skills: how to encourage others to talk about themselves without interpreting, experiences and reflection of feelings: early experience affects an individual’s perceptions, and perceptions do not change easily (Biglu, et all.,2017). One can only help another by using effective interpersonal skills to ensure the intended information, the other person understands thoughts. Likewise, interaction requires one to understand the other person’s point of view, as well as your own’s view to give advice by making other person feels that their opinions, thoughts and ideas matter.

The development of effective interpersonal skills has helped me express myself in the most convincingly way; strengthening the bond among my friends; to speak clearly to make people understand what I intend to communicate; improve body language (Biglu, et all.,2017). Apparently, shaping my personality has boosted my self-esteem and self-confidence and in realizing my purpose of helping people in daily challenges.

Problem solving

Different problems require different problem-solving skills. For instance, solving a problem requires understanding the problem and effective verbal, listening, and persuasion skills. Excellent interpersonal communications ensure smooth discussion among the team, weighing the cons and pros of different alternatives and choose the best alternative (Khademian, & Tehrani, 2017).

According to American Psychological Association, 40% of clients do not trust their counselors in the counseling industry. They do not share all the information for fear of confidentiality breaches. Effective communication help to build the trust, relationship in the workplace by assuring, and explaining the obligation of confidentiality in the law.

Personal relationships

Building healthy relationships in the personal and workplace requires effective interpersonal communication skills, coordination to work as a team. Creating and maintaining personal relationships requires respecting other person’s point of view; thoughts, knowledge, ideas, paying attention to their feelings by observing how they communicate, this builds trust among the friends (Khademian, & Tehrani, 2017).

Effective management and leadership

An effective leader should possess skills to foster an interpersonal relationship, trust and communicate clearly. Poor communication irritates and confuses workers while performing their duties, waste time while revisiting issues already shared (Hardjati, & Febrianita,2019). Managers are in charge, should ensure cooperation at executing tasks and responsible for his/her team. Therefore, the need to build trust and transparency by effectively communicating to the employees and creating a culture of positivity.

Recognizing good work

Good interpersonal communication skills are essential for personal coaching in the workplace. Helping each other perform their duties successfully, identifying the good work and encouraging each other to perform their level best as well as working on weaknesses (Biglu, et all.,2017). Asking questions instead of giving direct orders at the workplace requires effective interpersonal communication skills.

Must-Have Interpersonal Communication skills

Employees are recognizing the importance of micro-soft skills and nonverbal communication skills. The following are soft skills and nonverbal communication skills I have gained or polished include; communication courtesy, flexibility, integrity, interpersonal skills, attitude, professionalism, responsibility, teamwork, and work ethic (Biglu, et all.,2017).

Importance of observing non-verbal clues

Nonverbal clues; facial expressions, gestures, body movement and postures, eye contact, tone variation are powerful interpersonal communication tools. Observing the nonverbal clues helped me know when to start a conversation by establishing a rapport; someone needed a break, was confused hence need more explanation, want to contribute, and know whether trust exists in the discussion (Anggeraini, & Farozin,2019).

Ineffective interpersonal communication

Ineffective interpersonal create barriers and prevent the sharing and understanding of message communicated. In cases where people are restricted to sharing by cultural taboos of non-talking issues, mainly caused by lack of trust, frustration, and problems neglected (Khademian, & Tehrani, 2017). To show respect for their culture and talk openly about how they have restricted people from talking, and encourage cooperation.

Poor conflict management and problem-solving skills result in finger-pointing, blaming each other for not achieving the set objectives, and misdirected anger to other team members. According to Koprowska, (2020), can solve this by learning how to bring people’s mistakes indirectly, not pointing fingers. The manager can talk about his/her mistakes before criticizing the other person, and learning to disagree with the other person’s perceptions, and remaining calm.

It is satisfactory to say that effective interpersonal communication skills are essential towards achieving goals in an organization and personal development. Employees exhibit poor performance at the workplace as a result of ineffective interpersonal communication from the manager. The directives from the leaders ensure the proper performance of duties at the workplace. Effective interpersonal communication skills enhance personal and professional growth, builds trust and positivity, recognizes good work and effective management. This enhances the reliability and accuracy of information thus yielding an efficient working environment.

Destler, D. (2017). The Superskills Model: A Supervisory Microskill Competency Training Model.  Professional Counselor ,  7 (3), 272-284.

Geldard, K., Geldard, D., & Foo, R. Y. (2019).  Counselling adolescents: The proactive approach for young people . Sage.

Hardjati, S., & Febrianita, R. (2019). The power of interpersonal communication skill in enhancing service provision.  Journal of Social Science Research ,  14 , 3192-3199.

Khademian, Z., & Tehrani Neshat, B. (2017). The relationship between interpersonal communication skills and nursing students’ attitudes toward teamwork.  Sadra Medical Journal ,  5 (2), 99-110.

Biglu, M. H., Nateq, F., Ghojazadeh, M., & Asgharzadeh, A. (2017). Communication skills of physicians and patients’ satisfaction.  Materia socio-medica ,  29 (3), 192.

Anggeraini, D., & Farozin, M. (2019). Interpersonal communication skills and self confidence of secondary school students: findings and interventions.  KnE Social Sciences , 140-145.

Koprowska, J. (2020).  Communication and interpersonal skills in social work . Sage.

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Essay on Interpersonal Skills

Students are often asked to write an essay on Interpersonal Skills in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Interpersonal Skills


Interpersonal skills are abilities that help us interact and communicate with others. They are vital in school, work, and life.

Types of Interpersonal Skills

There are many types, including listening, speaking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. They help us understand and connect with others.

Importance of Interpersonal Skills

These skills are important because they help us work in teams, solve problems, and build relationships. They also help us communicate effectively.

Improving Interpersonal Skills

We can improve these skills by practicing active listening, being respectful, and working well in teams. It’s a lifelong process but worth the effort.

250 Words Essay on Interpersonal Skills

Introduction to interpersonal skills.

Interpersonal skills, often termed as ‘people skills’, refer to the abilities that facilitate communication and interaction with others. They are a set of soft skills that help one navigate through social interactions, fostering relationships and achieving personal or professional goals.

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are a cornerstone of effective communication, teamwork, and leadership. They are essential in understanding others’ perspectives, resolving conflicts, and building strong relationships. In the professional sphere, these skills are often the difference between successful and unsuccessful individuals, as they facilitate collaboration and promote a positive work environment.

Interpersonal skills encompass various abilities. Active listening is one, enabling one to understand and respond effectively to others. Empathy, another crucial skill, allows one to recognize and respond to others’ emotions. Other skills include verbal and non-verbal communication, problem-solving, decision-making, and negotiation.

Developing Interpersonal Skills

Developing interpersonal skills requires self-awareness, practice, and feedback. It involves understanding one’s communication style, recognizing its impact on others, and adapting it to different situations. Regular practice through social interactions and seeking constructive feedback can significantly improve these skills.

In conclusion, interpersonal skills are vital in both personal and professional life. They enable effective communication, foster relationships, and facilitate teamwork. By understanding and improving these skills, one can enhance their social interactions and achieve their goals.

500 Words Essay on Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills, often referred to as people skills, entail the ability to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. They encompass a broad spectrum of abilities, including communication, empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution. In today’s interconnected world, these skills are more crucial than ever, whether in personal relationships, professional environments, or community engagements.

Interpersonal skills are integral to our daily lives. They enable us to build strong relationships, collaborate efficiently, and navigate social situations. In professional settings, they facilitate teamwork, improve customer service, and aid in conflict resolution. They also contribute to leadership by fostering trust, respect, and understanding among team members.

Key Components of Interpersonal Skills


Effective communication is the cornerstone of interpersonal skills. It involves both verbal and non-verbal cues, such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Good communicators articulate their thoughts clearly, listen attentively, and respond appropriately.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a vital interpersonal skill. It promotes mutual respect and consideration, fostering a more compassionate and supportive environment.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any social interaction. The ability to manage and resolve conflicts amicably is a valuable interpersonal skill, promoting harmony and cooperation.

Interpersonal skills can be cultivated and refined. This involves self-awareness, practice, feedback, and continuous learning. Actively seeking opportunities to interact with diverse individuals can also enhance these skills.


Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses is the first step in developing interpersonal skills. This awareness allows individuals to identify areas for improvement and monitor progress.

Like any other skill, interpersonal skills improve with practice. This could involve participating in team activities, role-playing scenarios, or simply engaging in more social interactions.

Feedback is a valuable tool for improvement. Constructive criticism can highlight areas for improvement, while positive feedback can reinforce good behaviors.

In conclusion, interpersonal skills are essential in our daily lives, affecting all areas from personal relationships to professional success. They involve a range of abilities, including communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. Developing these skills requires self-awareness, practice, and feedback. By honing these skills, individuals can enhance their interactions, improve their relationships, and contribute positively to their communities.

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essay about interpersonal skills

Essential Interpersonal Skills Everyone Should Develop

Sometimes called “soft skills” or “people skills,” these tools are key to creating and maintaining a successful career.

Lisa Bertagnoli

“She’s a people person.” You’ve heard a colleague, manager, friend or relative described that way and you know exactly what it means. This person eases through the workday like a soft summer breeze, feathers rarely ruffled, hackles seldom raised. 

13 Essential Interpersonal Skills

Communication, active listening, emotional intelligence, relational intelligence, decision making, collaboration, objective effectiveness, problem solving, conflict resolution, negotiation.

What’s their secret? Finely developed and assiduously deployed interpersonal skills. “Interpersonal skills are often referred to as ‘people skills’ or ‘social skills,’” said Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting and author of Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work. 

What Are Interpersonal Skills? 

“In a nutshell, interpersonal skills are the skills that help us work well with others,” said John Waldmann, CEO and founder of Homebase , a San Francisco, California-based company that makes a time-tracking and employee scheduling app. “They’re the competencies we use to communicate, solve problems, be a part of a team, and move people and projects forward,” Waldmann said.  

“Developing your interpersonal skills, while it may seem touchy-feely, can be an important aspect of your career growth into leadership and roles with a greater scope of responsibility.” - Patrick Hayes, chief strategy officer, UncommonX, Chicago

Interpersonal skills come naturally to some people, but they can be developed and improved with time, experience and even training programs, Waldmann said. In the early days of Homebase, he said he found it “uncomfortable” to pitch the business. “But the more I practiced, the better I got,” he said. “Without taking the chance on developing those skills — communication, curiosity, empathy, adaptability and a lot of perseverance — Homebase wouldn’t be where it is today.”

Interpersonal skills work together as a package. It’s difficult to excel at one skill without excelling at the others. For instance, communication involves verbal and nonverbal skills as well as listening. Listening, “the ability to truly hear what people are saying,” Matuson said, is difficult without emotional intelligence , which is the ability to comprehend and handle emotions. Decision making and problem solving are entwined, as are collaboration and teamwork.

Employers value strong interpersonal skills because they help teams function more effectively,” said Jill Bowman, director of people at New York-based fintech company Octane . Interpersonal skills such as active listening, collaboration, empathy, team building, negotiation and leadership develop over time and can be improved with practice and training, Bowman said.

13 Interpersonal Skills Examples

“How we share ourselves in words and spoken thoughts, express through our physical reactions via body language and actively seek to understand others through listening are crucial to building other interpersonal/soft skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution and negotiation,” said Jamie Johnson, career advisor at the University of Phoenix . Well-developed communication skills create foundational people skills required to successfully interact with others and build fresh and positive personal and professional connections, Johnson added.

“Having the self confidence and conviction to make yourself heard allows you to increase collaboration with others and be an advocate in fostering your own success.” - Meighan (Meg) Newhouse, Inspirant Group, Naperville, Illinois

Communication requires both verbal and nonverbal skills. Verbal skills are the ability to articulate, in writing and while speaking, what you’re thinking, what you need and what you want to contribute, said Meighan (Meg) Newhouse, CEO and cofounder at Inspirant Group , a management consulting company based in Naperville, Illinois. 

“Having the self confidence and conviction to make yourself heard allows you to increase collaboration with others and be an advocate in fostering your own success,” Newhouse said, adding that the best way to develop this skill is to push through fear and “just do it.” 

Nonverbal skills include making eye contact, proper body language (for instance, arms not crossed in a defensive stance) and gestures, all of which can make a difference in people feeling engaged and comfortable, Newhouse said. 

Ever talk to someone whose mind seems to be on everything but what you’re saying? Active listening means engaging with the person with whom you’re talking, not just listening with one ear as you formulate what to say in response.

Active listening is crucial in the workplace, where people must interact in order to overcome challenges, said Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire , a Redwood City, California-based company that runs background checks on prospective employees. Active listening involves nonverbal communication, including uncrossed arms, maintaining eye contact and leaning in toward the speaker, Grossman said. 

Strong active listening also means asking specific questions about what the speaker is saying, as well as verbally affirming that you’re paying attention without interrupting the speaker’s train of thought, Grossman said. “This conveys engagement and gives you a fundamentally deeper understanding of the topic being discussed,” he said. 

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Relational intelligence is the ability to successfully connect with people and build strong, long-lasting relationships, said Adam Bandelli , an organizational psychologist who has pioneered the concept and written a book, Relational Intelligence: The Five Essential Skills You Need to Build Life-Changing Relationships , about it. 

It’s the everything bagel of interpersonal skills, encompassing establishing rapport, understanding others, embracing individual differences, developing trust, cultivating influence and serving others.

• Establishing rapport requires making a strong first impression, finding similarities and common ground, and creating a safe and enjoyable space for people to have a positive connection.

• Understanding others requires “good self-awareness and EQ, being curious and inquisitive, and actively listening to others,” Bandelli said. “It’s about being intentional in putting in the time and energy to get to know people on a deep level.”

• Embracing individual differences means understanding and accepting that people might be different from you, and those differences, be they sexual orientation, gender, ethnicities, race, religion or socioeconomic background, are what makes teams strong. 

• Developing trust requires commitment, consistency, character, courage and integrity. “Leaders need to continually deposit into a bank account of trust to build a sense of camaraderie and commitment from their people,” Bandelli said, noting that employees tend to stay with companies when they have a sound relationship with leaders. Once trust is gained, “you can’t use it to manipulate, control or use people” he said. “Trust is not about controlling your people.”

• Cultivating influence means having a positive and meaningful impact on people, whether it’s teammates, direct reports or the entire organization. To develop this part of relational intelligence, find a mentor who has superb interpersonal skills, Bandelli said. 

• Practicing these five essential relational intelligence skills is about servant leadership. No matter their place on the organizational chart, “great leaders know that serving their people leads to higher levels of performance, goals and objectives are attained, KPIs are delivered, and organizations achieve great financial success and profitability,” Bandelli said.

Effectively responding to challenges and questions and offering well-thought-out and convincing evidence and responses is part of the interpersonal/soft skills tool bag, said Johnson of University of Phoenix. 

The art of persuasion is as much about gaining a new perspective as it is convincing someone to your side or “winning” an argument: “They may provide valuable insight into issues and may give you the ability to voice your thoughts and opinions in a situation that can provide another perspective,” Johnson said. 

You need emotional intelligence to manage and leverage your and other people’s emotions, said Donna McGeorge , a productivity coach based in Australia. “It is the ability to understand the way people feel and react, monitor your own state and to use this to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems,” she said. Developing emotional intelligence builds strong workplace relationships that will help you and your team achieve your goals.

The building blocks of emotional intelligence are self regulation, which is managing your feelings, emotions and behavior in healthy ways, including adapting when necessary; self awareness, or knowing your strengths and weaknesses; other awareness, which is picking up emotional cues and group dynamics and having empathy for the needs of others; building and maintaining relationships via clear communication, McGeorge said.  

It’s how we identify and choose among alternatives and is closely related to problem solving, McGeorge said. Decision-making is far from the rational process we might believe it is, she added, citing a 2000 study by social psychologists Jennifer Lerner and Dacher Kelter. The two found that “fearful people made pessimistic judgments of future events and angry people made optimistic judgments,” the report said. “In other words, we are at risk of making dumb decisions when we are not in full control of our emotions,” McGeorge said. 

Information overload, which results in the illusion of knowledge, incomplete information, or even being under deadline pressure can result in poor decisions, McGeorge said. Lack of sleep, too, has a “tremendous impact” on decision-making, she said. Finally, being bombarded with decisions to make can result in decision fatigue, which can lead to poor decision-making. 

This is one of the interpersonal skills that really pulls together all the skills. Effective teamwork requires communication skills, the ability to support and respect teammates, the ability to think and learn out loud (for instance, “so what I hear you saying is...” or “if I understand you correctly, you’d like us to…”), and the ability to “listen, really listen,” McGeorge said. “Even better, listen with an intention to have your mind changed.” 

The benefits of effective teamwork stretch beyond accomplishing goals, she added. “When done right, there’s almost an alchemy of unique gifts, talents and skills that can create a competitive advantage and have people feel great about their work,” McGeorge said.

“Employers frequently want you to rely on and help others in order to achieve a common goal,” said Shiv Gupta, CEO of Incrementors , an inbound marketing company based in Sacramento, California. Collaboration means knowing when to step back and be supportive and when to take the lead. Collaboration is also entwined with teamwork. “As a successful team player, you should have a variety of the aforementioned talents, including empathy, respect, bargaining, and communication, as well as a positive attitude,” Gupta said. 

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This interpersonal skill combines assertion and the ability to say no, said Lisa Bahar , an adjunct professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, and a licensed marriage and family therapist and clinical counselor. 

An example of objective effectiveness in use would be describing a situation, expressing your feelings and opinions, asking for what you want, and then helping the other person understand that what you want benefits both of you. “This is not intended to be manipulative,” Bahar said. “There are also skills, when a person responds, which include being mindful of your objective and learning how to ignore attacks.”  

These skills depend on the ability to use analytical and creative thinking to find solutions, said Amy Zimmerman, chief people officer at Atlanta, Georgia-based digital payment system Relay Payments and cofounder of leadership consultancy PeopleCo . Analysis, persuasion, logical reasoning, persistence, brainstorming and decision-making are all skills required to effectively solve problems, she said. 

It’s a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. It’s a five-step process, starting with defining the source of the conflict, looking beyond the incident, requesting solutions, identifying solutions both sides can support, and reaching an agreement, Zimmerman said.

More on Soft Skills Why Engineers Should Sharpen Their Soft Skills Along With Their Technical Skills

This critical skill involves listening to the other party, understanding where they’re coming from as well as what’s important to them, said Andrea Ippolito, CEO and founder of Ithaca, New York-based SimpliFed , a telehealth platform focused on lactation, child nutrition and on-demand support for new parents. 

Successful negotiators identify the ZOPA, or zone of possible agreement, which is the common area on which both sides agree. “By understanding this zone, it allows you to meet somewhere in there for each party to accomplish what they need,” Ippolito said. 

High-quality negotiating skills help get internal and external stakeholders to buy into what you are trying to communicate, said Joe Vu, digital marketing manager at Fairport, New York-based QuickFi , maker of an app that simplifies business-equipment financing. “Using the right data insights and context can help strengthen your negotiation, and ultimately help you become a better communicator and leader,” he said. 

It’s accepting that other people can and will think and behave differently than you do. “Tolerance can be a challenge in the workplace because of individual disagreements or personal biases,” said Sam Cohen, founder of Gold Tree Consulting , a growth marketing agency based in Austin, Texas. Tolerance is acquired through exposure to different points of view and ways of thinking, and also with experience managing changes. “Change is imminent,” Cohen said, recommending meditation and practicing patience to hone tolerance. 

Why Are Interpersonal Skills Important?

Love makes the world go round, and interpersonal skills keep the workplace world spinning properly. Not only that: Interpersonal skills can make a tech professional a standout and help forge a promising career .

During his 27 years in tech, Patrick Hayes has developed, refined and used interpersonal skills as a way to influence outcomes and gain buy-in from others. “I have often been called a ‘people person,’ or someone who can get along well with others,” said Hayes, chief strategy officer at Chicago-based UncommonX , a SaaS-based cybersecurity firm.

Tech professionals, in his opinion, tend to be introverted and rely on facts, data and technical experience to reach decisions. “Developing your interpersonal skills, while it may seem touchy-feely, can be an important aspect of your career growth into leadership and roles with a greater scope of responsibility,” Hayes said. 

Interpersonal skills help soothe a variety of office issues, including disagreements, which can and will happen even in the happiest of workplaces. “Whatever the disagreement is, it’s important to separate the behavior from the individual,” said Hayes. ”As yourself, ‘why does the other person see things this way?’ You might not reach a mutually shared outcome, but this approach will provide the ability to focus on the issue and not the person,” he said.

More on Soft Skills 3 Often-Neglected Soft Skills for Developers to Know

How to Develop Your Interpersonal Skills

To be sure, some people are naturally charismatic and possess a full set of interpersonal skills. Others need to develop and refine interpersonal skills. Miriam Frankel, director of Thrive Group , a Passaic, New Jersey-based counseling center, offers nine tips for doing just that.

Think Positively

Every day, remind yourself of the good things about your life and your job. If you’re upset about a personal matter, set those feelings aside until after work. If you’re stressed about a work issue, look for the positive in the situation and try to build on that.

Control Your Emotions

Work isn’t the place to be overly emotional. Whether you’re extremely irritated, severely depressed or ecstatically happy, take a deep breath and tone your emotions down. Always express yourself in a calm, patient manner.

Acknowledge Others’ Expertise

One of the best ways to build trust at work is to let your co-workers know you appreciate their expertise. Ask for their help on projects and give credit where credit is due.

Show Genuine Interest in Your Colleagues

Make a point of getting to know what’s important to your co-workers. It will help solidify your relationships with them.

Find One Good Trait in Every Co-worker

Not all of us like every single person we work with but you can’t let personal preference get in the way of peak performance. If a colleague’s personality clashes completely with your own, the best way to handle the situation is by finding at least one good trait in that person — preferably something professional.

Practice Active Listening

Maintain eye contact with the speaker, nod your head, and repeat what they have said in your own words. The speaker will feel respected and you’re likely to be able to recall the conversation more easily afterwards.

Be Assertive

Be confident in your ability and opinions, and don’t be afraid to express your needs, as well as your limits.

Practice Empathy

Gain a well-rounded view of things by putting yourself in other people’s shoes. This will help you develop empathy for others, which in turn goes a long way in finding solutions that work for all involved.

Maintain Your Relationships

Connect with college friends and former colleagues on social media or through email; try to set up face-to-face meetings now and then. This shows your connections that you still value the relationship — and that can go a long way in helping you advance your career.

Interpersonal Skills and Impostor Syndrome

Some people might require more time to develop interpersonal skills; others, less. One group of professionals, surprisingly enough, might have highly developed personal skills, yet lack the confidence to recognize them.

That group? People with impostor syndrome — the belief that others think you’re smarter than you think you are.

Impostor syndrome is largely regarded as a professional negative. Yet new research by Basima A. Tewfik , assistant professor of work and organization studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, indicates that those who have “impostor thoughts” might be viewed by others as having better interpersonal skills.

In a paper forthcoming in the Academy of Management Journal , Tewfik “develops a model linking workplace impostor thoughts to other-perceived interpersonal effectiveness,” she writes in the abstract. She posits that people with more impostor thoughts are rated higher in interpersonal effectiveness “because such thoughts make them more other-oriented.”

Perceived interpersonal effectiveness “refers to how well others perceive that one cooperates and interacts with one’s environment,” Tewfik writes in the abstract. People with higher interpersonal effectiveness levels are those who create effective working relationships and relate well to others. 

Because accomplishing things at work increasingly involves interacting with others, having employees low in interpersonal effectiveness can cost workplaces millions of dollars in ill outcomes and mismanaged projects, she writes, citing colleagues’ research on the subject. 

Tewfik tested her theory in four studies with four groups: employees at an investment advisory firm, doctors-in-training and what she calls “two cross-industry sets of employees recruited online.” Members of each group were evaluated for workplace impostor thoughts and interpersonal effectiveness by various means. 

In one employee study, for instance, half of the employees were randomly assigned to recall a time at work in which they had impostor thoughts while the other half were randomly assigned to recall what they had for lunch that day. Employees were all then told to imagine that right after the experience they recalled, they got the chance to have an informal coffee chat with a hiring manager that could result in a promotion. Employees were offered the option of either asking or answering questions during this conversation. 

Tewfik found that those in the “impostor thoughts” group choose to ask more questions. As a result of this increased “other-focus,” hiring managers gave them higher interpersonal effectiveness scores.

In summary? Impostor syndrome might feel like a career liability, but can be a real asset when it comes to getting along in the workplace. And so can a toolbox of well-honed interpersonal skills.

Take a moment each day to perfect these essential skills. Your career will thank you for it.

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Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the skills we use every day when we communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. They include a wide range of skills, but particularly communication skills such as listening and effective speaking. They also include the ability to control and manage your emotions.

It is no exaggeration to say that interpersonal skills are the foundation for success in life. People with strong interpersonal skills tend to be able to work well with other people, including in teams or groups, formally and informally. They communicate effectively with others, whether family, friends, colleagues, customers or clients. They also have better relationships at home and at work.

You can improve your interpersonal skills by developing your awareness of how you interact with others and practising your skills.

This page provides an overview of interpersonal skills and how they are developed and used. It explains where these skills are important, including particular jobs that may require very good interpersonal skills. Finally, it discusses how you can start to develop your interpersonal skills further.

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are sometimes referred to as social skills, people skills, soft skills, or life skills.

However, these terms can be used both more narrowly and more broadly than ‘ interpersonal skills ’. On this website, we define interpersonal skills as:

“The skills you need and use to communicate and interact with other people.”

This definition means that interpersonal skills therefore include:

  • Communication skills , which in turn covers:
  • Verbal Communication – what we say and how we say it;
  • Non-Verbal Communication – what we communicate without words, for example through body language, or tone of voice; and
  • Listening Skills – how we interpret both the verbal and non-verbal messages sent by others.
  • Emotional intelligence – being able to understand and manage your own and others’ emotions.
  • Team-working – being able to work with others in groups and teams, both formal and informal.
  • Negotiation, persuasion and influencing skills – working with others to find a mutually agreeable (Win/Win) outcome. This may be considered a subset of communication, but it is often treated separately.
  • Conflict resolution and mediation – working with others to resolve interpersonal conflict and disagreements in a positive way, which again may be considered a subset of communication.
  • Problem solving and decision-making – working with others to identify, define and solve problems, which includes making decisions about the best course of action.

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills matter because none of us lives in a bubble.

In the course of our lives, we have to communicate with and interact with other people on a daily if not hourly basis, and sometimes more often. Good interpersonal skills ‘oil the wheels’ of these interactions, making them smoother and pleasanter for all those involved. They allow us to build better and longer-lasting relationships, both at home and at work.

Interpersonal skills at home

Good interpersonal skills help you to communicate more effectively with family and friends.

This is likely to be particularly important with your partner. For example, being able to give and receive feedback effectively with your partner can help to resolve small problems between you before they become big issues.

There is more about this, and other aspects of using interpersonal skills at home, in our pages on Personal and Romantic Relationship Skills and Parenting Skills .

Interpersonal skills at work

You may not like to think about it in these terms, but you almost certainly spend more time with your colleagues than your partner.

At work, you are required to communicate with and interact with a wide range of people, from suppliers and customers through to your immediate colleagues, colleagues further afield, your team and your manager. Your ability to do so effectively can make the difference between a successful working life, and one spent wondering what went wrong.

There are, of course, some jobs in which interpersonal skills are particularly important.

Customer-facing roles, such as sales and customer relations management, are likely to specify good interpersonal skills as a prerequisite. However, there are a number of other less obvious jobs and careers where interpersonal skills are also vitally important. These include:

Healthcare provision, including doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals . Being able to listen to, and talk to, patients and their families is an essential skill, as is being able to give bad news in a sensitive way. We almost take these skills for granted in healthcare professionals—but we also know how devastating the situation can be when these professionals have poor skills and fail to communicate effectively.

Financial advice and brokerage . Financial advisers and brokers need to be able to listen carefully to their customers, and understand both what they are saying, and what they are not articulating. This enables them to provide recommendations that match their clients’ needs. Poor interpersonal skills mean that they will find it harder to build good customer relationships, and to understand customer needs.

Computer programming and development . This area is often thought of as the ultimate territory for ‘geeks’, with the assumption that interpersonal skills are not essential. However, technical developers increasingly need good interpersonal skills to understand their customers, and to be able to ‘translate’ between the technical and the practical.

Interpersonal Skills for Job Seekers

Good interpersonal skills are essential at work, but many people find them hard to demonstrate during a job application process. Some ideas to help include:

‘Naming and claiming’ in your CV or resume. Give a clear statement of a particular skill or skills that you possess, and then give examples to show how you have demonstrated them in practice. For example:

“I have excellent written communication skills, and my colleagues often ask me to check their written work for them before onward transmission.”

  • Carefully name-checking any specific skills that are mentioned in the job description or person specification. Make life easy for the recruiter. In your personal statement or covering letter, use the same terms as the job description or person specification, and again, give examples.

For more ideas about how to improve your chances of getting a job, see our pages on Writing a CV or Resume , Writing a Covering Letter and Applying for a Job .

Developing Your Interpersonal Skills

Good interpersonal skills are the foundation for good working and social relationships, and also for developing many other areas of skill.

It is therefore worth spending time developing good interpersonal skills.

You Already Have Interpersonal Skills

We've all been developing our interpersonal skills since childhood, usually subconsciously.

Interpersonal skills often become so natural that we take them for granted, never thinking about how we communicate with other people. If you have developed good habits, this is fine. However, it is of course also possible to develop bad habits, and then fail to understand why your communications or relationships are suffering.

Improving and developing your interpersonal skills is best done in steps, starting with the most basic, but vital:

1. Identify areas for improvement

The first step towards improving is to develop your knowledge of yourself and your weaknesses.

You may already have a good idea of areas that you need to develop. However, it is worth seeking feedback from other people, because it is easy to develop ‘blind spots’ about yourself. You might also find it useful to do our Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment.

Discover your interpersonal skills strengths and weaknesses.

Our free self-assessment covers listening skills, verbal communication, emotional intelligence and working in groups.

essay about interpersonal skills

The self-assessment may give you an idea of which areas to develop first. It may, however, also be worth starting with the basics, and moving on from there.

2. Focus on your basic communication skills

Communication is far more than the words that come out of your mouth.

Some would even go so far as to suggest that there is a reason why you have two ears and one mouth, and that you should therefore listen twice as much as you talk!

Listening is very definitely not the same as hearing. Perhaps one of the most important things you can do for anyone else is to take the time to listen carefully to what they are saying, considering both their verbal and non-verbal communication. Using techniques like questioning and reflection demonstrates that you are both listening and interested.

Visit our Listening Skills pages to learn more.

When you are talking, be aware of the words you use. Could you be misunderstood or confuse the issue? Practise clarity and learn to seek feedback or clarification to ensure your message has been understood. By using questions effectively, you can both check others’ understanding, and also learn more from them.

Our page on Verbal Communication introduces this subject. You may also find our pages on Questioning and Clarification useful.

You may think that selecting your words is the most important part of getting a message across, but non-verbal communication actually plays a much bigger part than many of us are aware. Some experts suggest that around three-quarters of the ‘message’ is communicated by non-verbal signals such as body language, tone of voice, and the speed at which you speak.

These non-verbal signals reinforce or contradict the message of our words, and are much harder to fake than words. They are therefore a much more reliable signal. Learning to read body language is a vital part of communication.

For more about this, see our page on Non-Verbal Communication . If you are really interested, you may want to explore more, either about Body Language , or the importance of Face and Voice in non-verbal communication.

3. Improve your more advanced communication skills

Once you are confident in your basic listening and verbal and non-verbal communication, you can move on to more advanced areas around communication, such as becoming more effective in how you speak, and understanding why you may be having communication problems.

Our page on Effective Speaking includes tips on how to use your voice to full effect.

Communication is rarely perfect and can fail for a number of reasons. Understanding more about the possible barriers to good communication means that you can be aware of—and reduce the likelihood of—ineffective interpersonal communication and misunderstandings. Problems with communication can arise for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Physical barriers , for example, being unable to see or hear the speaker properly, or language difficulties;
  • Emotional barriers , such as not wanting to hear what is being said, or engage with that topic; and
  • Expectations and prejudices that affect what people see and hear.
See our page Barriers to Communication for more information.

There are also circumstances in which communication is more difficult: for example, when you have to have an unpleasant conversation with someone, perhaps about their standard of work. These conversations may be either planned or unplanned.

There tend to be two issues that make conversations more difficult: emotion, and change.

  • Various emotions can get in the way of communicating , including anger and aggression, or stress. Few of us are able to communicate effectively when we are struggling to manage our emotions, and sometimes the best thing that can be done is to postpone the conversation until everyone is calmer.
  • Difficult conversations are often about the need for change . Many of us find change hard to manage, especially if it is associated with an implied criticism of existing ways of working.
Our page Communicating in Difficult Situations offers further ideas to help you to get your message across when stress levels or other emotions are running high.

4. Look inwards

Interpersonal skills may be about how you relate to others, but they start with you . Many will be improved dramatically if you work on your personal skills.

For example, people are much more likely to be drawn to you if you can maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude also translates into improved self-confidence.

You are also less likely to be able to communicate effectively if you are very stressed about something. It is therefore important to learn to recognise, manage and reduce stress in yourself and others (and see our section on Stress and Stress Management for more). Being able to remain assertive, without becoming either passive or aggressive, is also key to effective communication. There is more about this in our pages on Assertiveness .

Perhaps the most important overarching personal skill is developing emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your own and others’ emotions, and their effect on behaviour and attitudes. It is therefore perhaps best considered as both personal and interpersonal in its nature, but there is no doubt that improving your emotional intelligence will help in all areas of interpersonal skills. Daniel Goleman, the author of a number of books on emotional intelligence, identified five key areas, three of which are personal, and two interpersonal.

The personal skills , or ‘how we manage ourselves’, are self-awareness , self-regulation , and motivation . In other words, the first steps towards understanding and managing the emotions of others is to be able to understand and manage our own emotions, including understanding what motivates us.

The social skills , or ‘how we handle relationships with others’, are empathy and social skills . These mean understanding and feeling for others, and then being able to interact effectively with them.

Improving your emotional intelligence therefore improves your understanding that other people have different points of view. It helps you to try to see things from their perspective. In doing so, you may learn something whilst gaining the respect and trust of others.

5. Use and practise your interpersonal skills in particular situations

There are a number of situations in which you need to use interpersonal skills. Consciously putting yourself in those positions, and practising your skills, then reflecting on the outcomes, will help you to improve.

For example:

Interpersonal skills are essential when working in groups.

Group-work is also a common situation, both at home and at work, giving you plenty of opportunity to work on your skills. It may be helpful to understand more about group dynamics and ways of working, as these can affect how both you and others behave.

For more about the different types of teams and groups, see our page An introduction to Teams and Groups , and for more about how people behave in groups, see Group and Team Roles . You can find more about the skills essential to team working in our page on Effective Team-Working .

Interpersonal skills may also be particularly helpful if you have to negotiate, persuade and influence others.

Effective negotiations—that is, where you are seeking a win–win outcome, rather than win–lose—will pave the way to mutual respect, trust and lasting interpersonal relations. Only by looking for a solution that works for both parties, rather than seeking to win at all costs, can you establish a good relationship that will enable you to work together over and over again.

Being able to persuade and influence others—again, for mutual benefit—is also a key building block towards strong interpersonal relations.

There is more about all of these in our pages on Negotiation and Persuasion . These pages explain negotiation , and discuss how it works , and explore the art of persuasion and influence in more detail.

Resolving and mediating in conflict scenarios can be a real test of interpersonal skills

Sometimes negotiation and persuasion are not enough to avoid conflict. When this happens, you need strong conflict resolution and potentially even mediation skills. Conflict can arise from poorly-handled interpersonal communications, and may be addressed simply by listening carefully to both sides, and demonstrating that you have done so. Finding a win–win situation is similarly important here, because it shows that you respect both sides.

These skills may be thought of as advanced communication skills. However, if you are often required to manage such situations, some specialist training may be helpful.

See our pages on Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skills for more.

Finally, problem-solving and decision-making are usually better when they involve more than one person

Problem-solving and decision-making are key life skills. While both can be done alone, they are often better for the involvement of more people. This means that they also frequently involve interpersonal elements, and there is no doubt that better interpersonal skills will help with both.

See our pages on Problem-Solving and Decision-Making for more.

6. Reflect on your experience and improve

The final element in developing and improving your interpersonal skills is to develop the habit of self-reflection. Taking time to think about conversations and interpersonal interactions will enable you to learn from your mistakes and successes, and continue to develop. You might, for example, find it helpful to keep a diary or learning journal and write in it each week.

For more about this, see our pages on Reflective Practice and Improving Communication Skills .

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Continue to: Developing Interpersonal Skills in Children Interpersonal Communication Skills Principles of Interpersonal Communication

Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay

Below, you will discover an interpersonal and intrapersonal essay that discusses the differences between the communication skills.


The distinction that exists between intrapersonal and interpersonal skills has to do with the fact that while intrapersonal skills are those used by the communicator to communicate to himself or herself, interpersonal skills are employed when communicating with an audience. As human beings, we live in an environment populated with other people and as such, interpersonal skills are vital for relaying what we know or feel to those who listen to us.

Considering the importance of communication, leaders must cultivate effective intrapersonal and interpersonal skills in order to realize maximum output from their inputs. This paper presents a discussion that compares and contrasts intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.

Intrapersonal Skills

As has already been stated, intrapersonal skills are those skills that we use to communicate with ourselves. Apparently, a communicator may need to first communicate to him or herself before the communication can eventually get to the listener. In the process of communicating to others, a desire to communicate is first aroused and this is then followed by the engagement of the brain.

The tongue is then used to pass on the communication to whoever is listening. In some instances, however, the relaying of the message may be done using gestures. During intrapersonal communication, only one person is involved and the communicator and recipient of the message is the same person.

In the development of intrapersonal skills, it is imperative for one to understand the various mechanisms that affect their emotions and behaviors. By understanding the connection that exists between one’s emotions, behaviors, and actions, it becomes easy to choose the right action when faced with a situation. Clearly, this is important if one has to avoid conflict and confusion.

Interpersonal Skills

The development of interpersonal skills is a very important consideration for leaders if they have to achieve their goals and objectives in what they do. To enhance communication with others, a number of things must happen. First, it is important to understand the need to behave appropriately in order to motivate listeners toward greater achievements. Next, the communicator must become aware of any mistakes that may arise and endeavor to correct them. Through constant learning and correction, one is able to move to the next stage where he or she is aware of the progress being made. Finally, the art of communicating to listeners becomes ingrained and the communicator unconsciously communicates effectively.

Comparison and Contrast between Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills

While intrapersonal and interpersonal skills differ as far as the intended audience is concerned, there is a link between them. Intrapersonal skills enable the communicator to communicate to him or herself while interpersonal skills enable the communicator to convey a message to his or her listeners.

However, before any communication is relayed to a listener, it is first conceived in the communicator’s mind and later sent to the brain for processing. It is after the message has been processed that it is communicated to the listener through an appropriate communication channel. It is thus important for leaders to ensure that both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are well developed.

Considering that human beings do not exist in isolation, it is an important requirement that everyone should build and strengthen both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. For leaders, developing these skills enables them to realize greater results from their endeavors. As has been explained, intrapersonal and interpersonal forms of communication complement each other. It is thus critical to develop one without neglecting the other.

  • Multiple Intelligences Test Findings
  • The Art of Conflict Resolution
  • Interpersonal Communication: Types and Barriers
  • Comparison of Leadership and Management
  • Work Design and Job Satisfaction at the BBC
  • Motivation Plan: Virgin Blue Company
  • Operations Management: Toyota Motor Company
  • Ultimate Software Human Resource Practice
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2019, June 11). Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay.

"Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay." IvyPanda , 11 June 2019,

IvyPanda . (2019) 'Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay'. 11 June.

IvyPanda . 2019. "Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay." June 11, 2019.

1. IvyPanda . "Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay." June 11, 2019.


IvyPanda . "Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills Essay." June 11, 2019.

Home — Essay Samples — Life — Communication Skills — Interpersonal Communication Skills


Interpersonal Communication Skills

  • Categories: Communication Skills Information Technology Interpersonal Communication

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Words: 1258 |

Published: Dec 5, 2018

Words: 1258 | Pages: 3 | 7 min read

Table of contents

Engaging audience, question and answers, works cited.

  • Chen, X., & Ren, M. (2015). Cross-Cultural Communication Competence in Business English Curriculum. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 5(3), 534-540.
  • Ferraro, G. P. (2018). The cultural dimension of international business. Routledge.
  • Gudykunst, W. B. (2013). Bridging differences: Effective intergroup communication. Sage Publications.
  • Guffey, M. E., & Loewy, D. (2018). Essentials of business communication. Nelson Education.
  • Hall, E. T. (2017). Beyond culture. Anchor Books.
  • Hofstede, G. (2010). Geert Hofstede. Cultural dimensions. Retrieved from
  • Holmes, P. (2013). Communicating across cultures at work. Routledge.
  • Kahai, S. S., & Cooper, R. B. (2003). Exploring the core concepts of media richness theory: The impact of cue multiplicity and feedback immediacy on decision quality. Journal of Management Information Systems, 20(1), 263-299.
  • Mauk, J. L., & Oakland, T. (2015). Communication and Management Skills for the Pharmacy Technician. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Zhang, X. (2018). Cross-Cultural Communication in International Business: A Study of the Differences between UK and China. International Journal of Business and Management, 13(5), 36-42.

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essay about interpersonal skills

Interpersonal Effectiveness: 9 Worksheets & Examples (+ PDF)

Interpersonal Effectiveness: 9 Worksheets & Examples (+ PDF)

There is a myriad of skills that can be added to our repertoire, enhanced, and improved.

There are thousands of courses, millions of books and articles, and countless tips and suggestions to improve our lives by cultivating a certain skill or set of skills.

But which one is most important?

There may not be a definitive answer to that question, but I think one of the most common answers would be: communication (or interpersonal) skills.

It is simply a fact of life that we will encounter thousands, even tens of thousands, of people in our lifetime. While we don’t need to make a good impression on each individual we meet (which would be an impossible task anyway), we do need to at least get along with others well enough to get by.

This is especially true for those of us struggling with a mental disorder like depression, anxiety, or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It can be doubly difficult for people with these obstacles to effectively interact with others.

Fortunately, there are ways to enhance your interpersonal effectiveness. Whether you are a successful public speaker or an introverted loner, there are resources and activities that can help you improve your communication skills and enhance your quality of life.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

This Article Contains:

What is the definition of interpersonal effectiveness, interpersonal effectiveness & dialectical behavioral therapy, the importance of developing your interpersonal effectiveness skills, 6 games & activities (for groups) to develop effective interpersonal skills, 3 ways to improve your interpersonal effectiveness in the workplace, a take-home message.

Interpersonal effectiveness, at its most basic, refers to the ability to interact with others. It includes skills we use to (Vivyan, 2015):

  • Attend to relationships
  • Balance priorities versus demands
  • Balance the “wants” and the “shoulds”
  • Build a sense of mastery and self-respect

Our ability to interact with others can be broken by the goal we have in mind for our interactions. There are three main goals to interaction:

  • Gaining our objective
  • Maintaining our relationships
  • Keeping our self-respect

Each goal requires interpersonal skills; while some interpersonal skills will be applied in many situations, some skills will be especially important for achieving one of these goals.

When we are working towards gaining our objective, we need skills that involve clarifying what we want from the interaction, and identifying what we need to do in order to get the results we want.

When maintaining our relationships is our first priority, we need to understand how important the particular relationship is to us, how we want the person to feel about us, and what we need to do in order to keep the relationship going.

Finally, when our goal is to keep our self-respect, we will use interpersonal skills to help us feel the way we would like to feel after the interaction is over and to stick to our values and to the truth (Vivyan, 2015).

6 Games & Activities (for Groups) to Develop Effective Interpersonal Skills

In fact, it’s the second core skills module in classic DBT, with tons of materials and resources dedicated to improving the client’s interpersonal skills.

You might be wondering why interpersonal effectiveness is so important that it warrants an entire module in one of the most popular forms of therapy. Sure, communication is important, but does it really require this much time and effort? Why?

DBT’s take is that these skills are so important because the way we communicate with others has a huge impact on the quality of our relationships with others and the outcomes of our interactions with others (Linehan, 2015). In turn, the quality of our relationships and the outcomes of our interactions have a significant influence on our wellbeing , our sense of self-esteem and self-confidence , and our very understanding of who we are.

While there are many skills related to communication and interaction with others, DBT focuses on two main components:

  • The ability to ask for things that you want or need
  • The ability to say no to requests, when appropriate

essay about interpersonal skills

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By now, you have surely recognized the importance of having good, or at least adequate, communication and interaction skills. However, you may be thinking that if you have the skills to communicate with others at a minimum level of effectiveness, you’re set! Why bother working on skills you already have?

Like any set of complex skills, there will never be a point at which you have completely mastered them. Even the best motivational speakers and public relations experts are not perfect communicators. There is always room for improvement!

Research has provided evidence that improving these interpersonal skills leads to positive outcomes, especially for clients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). For example, DBT skill utilization has been shown to improve BPD symptoms overall, reduce affective instability, and improve the client’s relationship capabilities (Stepp, Epler, Jahng, & Trull, 2008).

The ultimate guide to expert interpersonal skills – Science of People

While there are many worksheets and individual exercises you can engage in to build your interpersonal skills, they are not always the most effective way to do this.

It’s no surprise that the best way to improve your interactions with others is to practice interacting with others!

Not only are group activities generally more effective in improving interpersonal skills, they are often more fun. Below, we’ve listed and described 5 fun games and activities that you can practice to improve your interpersonal effectiveness (as well as one handout you can use to assess your interpersonal skills).

Skills Assessment Handout

Before trying to improve your interpersonal communication skills, it is a good idea to find out where you currently are with each one. The assessment on page 3 of this handout can help.

On this page, you will find 29 skills, such as:

  • Introducing yourself
  • Listening – taking in what people say
  • Listening – showing interest in people
  • Responding to praise
  • Responding to negative feedback
  • Self-disclosure as appropriate

For each skill, you are instructed to rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 5, according to the following rubric:

  • 1 – I am very poor at that skill
  • 2 – I am poor
  • 3 – I am sometimes good
  • 4 – I am usually good
  • 5 – I am always good

You can take the average of your ratings to give yourself an overall “interpersonal effectiveness” skill rating, but the individual ratings are valuable by themselves.

If you are looking to enhance your communication skills, make sure to establish a baseline first. If you have a baseline to compare back to, it is much easier to notice improvements!

Try Not To Listen Activity

In this fun and potentially eye-opening activity, group members will get a chance to put their acting chops to the test.

The group should be broken into pairs for this activity. In each pair, one individual should be designated to speak first while the other “listens,” before switching roles.

The first speaker (Partner A) is instructed to talk for two minutes straight, about any subject they’d like to talk about. While Partner A is speaking, Partner B’s job is to make it crystal clear that he or she is not listening to Partner A at all.

Partner B cannot say anything, instead relying on body language to communicate their message to Partner A.

Once Partner A’s two minutes of speaking time is up, Partner B gets two minutes to talk while Partner A “listens.”

The group will likely find that it is extremely hard to keep talking when their partner is so clearly not listening! This is an important lesson from the activity: that body language plays a vital role in communication, and listeners have a significant influence over how the interaction goes in addition to those speaking.

Once all group members have taken their turn both speaking and “listening,” each individual should write down their immediate reactions to having a speaking partner that is clearly not listening.

They will probably come up with feelings like:

  • I felt frustrated.
  • I was angry.
  • I felt that I wasn’t important.
  • I felt like what I was saying must be boring.
  • I couldn’t keep talking.
  • I felt insignificant and unimportant.

Next, group members should note the behaviors that their partner was exhibiting to show that they weren’t listening, behaviors like:

  • Facing away, with head bent toward the floor or turned to the side
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Looking at the floor/ceiling
  • Folded arms/crossed legs
  • Blank or bored expression
  • Yawning, whistling, scratching or other activity incompatible with active listening
  • Preoccupation (with looking at one’s surroundings, one’s phone, etc.)
  • No interaction at all

While this exercise is clearly an exaggeration of what it is like to talk to someone who isn’t listening, this can help those who are not very observant or limited in their social skills to monitor their own behavior when interacting with others.

It’s easy to decide to practice active listening in your interactions, but it’s harder to keep all of the target behaviors (and all of the decidedly non-target behaviors) in mind. Practicing this exercise will help participants identify and remember the behaviors that make a person a good listener .

You can find this exercise on page 4 of the handout mentioned above ( Interpersonal Skills Exercises ).

Sabotage Exercise

This is another fun exercise that incorporates poor interpersonal behaviors in order to highlight what the good interpersonal behaviors are.

This exercise should be undertaken in a fairly large group, large enough to break into at least two or three groups of four to five individuals.

Instruct each group to take about 10 minutes to brainstorm, discuss, and list all the ways they can think of to sabotage a group assignment. Anything they can think of is fair game – it just needs to be something disruptive enough to drive a team task right off the rails!

Once each group has a good-sized list of ways to sabotage a group assignment, gather into the larger group again and compare responses. Write them all on the chalkboard, whiteboard, or a flip board in the front of the room.

Next, reform the groups and instruct them to produce a 5- to 10-point contract with agreed-upon guidelines for successful group work . Group members should draw from the sabotage ideas (i.e., what not to do for successful group work) to identify good ideas (i.e., what to do for successful group work).

For example, if a group listed “do not communicate with any of the other group members” as a way to sabotage the group assignment, they might come up with something like “communicate with other group members often” as a guideline for successful group work.

This exercise will help participants learn what makes for a positive group experience, while also giving them a chance to have a positive group experience along the way.

This exercise was described on page 14 of  this handout .

Group Strengths and Weaknesses

Groups have one very important advantage over individuals when it comes to accomplishing work – they can offset individuals’ weaknesses, complement their strengths, and bring balance to the group.

Group members will engage in some critical thinking and discussion about their own strengths and weaknesses in this exercise, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the other group members and the group as a whole.

To give this exercise a try, instruct the group to think about the strengths and weaknesses of each individual group member. Encourage them to be honest but kind to one another, especially when discussing weaknesses.

Once each team has come up with a good list of strengths and weaknesses for each group member, have each group think about how these will affect group dynamics. What strengths will positively influence group interactions? Which weaknesses have the potential to throw a monkey wrench into group interactions?

Finally, have each team discuss the composition of a “perfect” team. Is it better to have members with similar characteristics or with a wide range of personalities, abilities, and skills? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of team?

This discussion will help participants think critically about what makes a good team, how different personalities interact, and how to modify your behavior, group norms, or expectations to match the differing personalities and abilities of others.

This exercise is also described on page 14 of the handout on interpersonal skills ( Interpersonal Skills Exercises ).

Count the Squares

This game is a fun and engaging way to encourage group interaction and communication.

All you need is this image (or similar image of multiple squares), displayed on a PowerPoint presentation or on the wall or board at the front of the room.

In the first step, give the group a couple of minutes to individually count the number of squares in the figure and write down their answer. They should do this without speaking to others.

Next, have each group member call out the number of squares they counted. Write these down on the board.

Now instruct each participant to find someone to pair up with and count the squares again. They can talk to each other when determining how many squares there are, but no one else.

Have each pair share their number again once they are finished.

Finally, have the participants form groups of four to five members each and instruct them to count the squares one more time. When they have finished, once again take down the numbers each group counted.

At least one group will almost certainly have counted the correct number of squares, which is 40. Have this group walk the rest of the participants through how they got to 40.

Finally, lead the whole group through a discussion of group synergy, and why the counts (likely) kept getting closer and closer to 40 as more people got together to solve the problem.

Participants will learn about the importance of good group communication, practice working in pairs and in groups, and hopefully have fun completing this activity.

You can find more information about this activity here .

Non-Verbal Introduction Game

This game is a fun twist on an old classic – meeting a new person and introducing them to the group.

You should plan this game on the first day of a group therapy , training, or other activity to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce each group member.

Have the group members pair up with a person sitting next to them. Tell them to introduce themselves to each other and include something interesting or unusual about themselves.

Once every pair has been introduced and has found out something interesting about the other person, bring the focus back to the larger group.

Tell the group members that each person must introduce their partner to the group, but with a catch – they cannot use words or props! Each partner must introduce the other partner with actions only.

This game is not only a great icebreaker for introducing people to one another, it’s also a fun way for group members to see both the utility of verbal communication (something you might only recognize when cannot use it!) and the importance of nonverbal communication.

If you have time, you can lead the group in a discussion of nonverbal communication, the cues we pick up on in other peoples’ behavior, and how getting feedback from those you are communicating with is vital.

You can read more about this game here .

Non-Verbal Introduction Game interpersonal skills

Luckily, most of these skills transfer nicely from therapy to family life, interactions with friends, and the workplace. Additionally, there are some exercises and resources developed to improve work-related interpersonal skills directly.

Below you will find a few different ways to improve your communication at work .

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills Handout

This helpful handout can be reviewed and returned to while you or your client are working on enhancing interpersonal effectiveness.

It outlines the skills needed to communicate effectively with others, separated into three different skill sets:

  • Objective Effectiveness
  • Relationship Effectiveness
  • Self-Respect Effectiveness

For each set, there is a handy acronym to help you remember which skills are included.

For objective effectiveness, the acronym is “DEAR MAN” and the skills are:

  • D – Describe: use clear and concrete terms to describe what you want.
  • E – Express: let others know how a situation makes you feel by clearly expressing your feelings; don’t expect others to read your mind.
  • A – Assert: don’t beat around the bush – say what you need to say.
  • R – Reinforce: reward people who respond well, and reinforce why your desired outcome is positive.
  • M – Mindful : don’t forget the objective of the interaction; it can be easy to get sidetracked into harmful arguments and lose focus.
  • A – Appear: appear confident; consider your posture, tone, eye contact, and body language.
  • N – Negotiate: no one can have everything they want out of an interaction all the time; be open to negotiation.

These skills allow those who practice them to effectively and clearly express their needs and desires, and get what they want out of an interaction.

The acronym for relationship effectiveness is “GIVE”:

  • G – Gentle: don’t attack, threaten, or express judgment during your interactions; accept the occasional “no” for your requests.
  • I – Interested: show interest by listening to the other person without interrupting.
  • V – Validate: be outwardly validating to the other person’s thoughts and feelings; acknowledge their feelings, recognize when your requests are demanding, and respect their opinions.
  • E – Easy: have an easy attitude; try to smile and act lighthearted.

These skills help people to maintain relationships with others through fostering positive interactions.

Finally, the acronym for self-respect effectiveness is “FAST”:

  • F – Fair: be fair; not only to others but also to yourself.
  • A – Apologies: don’t apologize unless it’s warranted; don’t apologize for making a request, having an opinion, or disagreeing.
  • S – Stick to Values: don’t compromise your values just to be liked or to get what you want; stand up for what you believe in.
  • T – Truthful: avoid dishonesty such as exaggeration, acting helpless as a form of manipulation, or outright lying.

The self-respect skill set will help protect you from betraying your own values and beliefs to receive approval or to get what you want.

Knowing what these skills are and how they can be applied is the first step towards enhancing your ability to interact with others. You can find this handout online at this link .

Radical Acceptance Worksheet

This worksheet helps you to identify and understand a situation you are struggling to accept, whether it is at work, in your personal life, an issue with your family, or something else entirely. Whatever difficult thing you are working through, you can use this worksheet to help yourself accept the reality of your situation .

First, the worksheet instructs you to answer the question “What is the problem or situation?”

Next, you will describe the part of this situation that is difficult for you to accept.

Then, you describe the reality of that situation. Think critically here about the reality, don’t just write down what you want the situation to be or what your worst possible interpretation of the situation is.

After describing the reality, think about the causes that led up that reality (hint: you will probably notice that many of them are outside of your control!).

Next, you practice acceptance with the whole self (mind, body, and spirit) and describe how you did this. The worksheet encourages you to try the following:

“Breathe deeply, put your body into an open, accepting posture, and notice and let go of thoughts and feelings that fight the reality. Practice skills for acceptance such as half-smile, awareness exercises, or prayer. Focus on a statement of acceptance, such as “it is what it is” or “everything is as it should be.”

Finally, you rate your distress tolerance about this difficult situation both before and after practicing radical acceptance, on a scale from 0 (you just can’t take it) to 100 (total acceptance of reality).

This worksheet will be available for download soon.

Compass Points Emotional Intelligence Activity

This exercise from the National School Reform Faculty is a fantastic way for a team to improve their emotional intelligence together (Allen, 2015).

To prepare for this exercise, create four signs – North, South, East, and West – and post them on the room walls. Under each point, write out the traits associated with each sign:

  • North: Acting o Likes to act, try things, dive in; “Let’s do it!”
  • East: Speculating o Likes to look at the big picture and all the possibilities before acting.
  • South: Caring o Likes to know that everyone’s feelings have been taken into consideration and that their voices have been heard before acting.
  • West: Paying Attention to Detail o Likes to know the who, what, when, where, and why before acting.

To begin the activity, point out the four points to the participants and ask them to read each one and select the one that most accurately captures how they work with others on teams. Have them walk over to that point and remain there for the activity.

Once each participant has chosen a compass point, ask them to recall a personal past team experience that was either very positive or very negative. They shouldn’t share this experience yet, but they should keep it in mind to discuss later.

Next, have the natural groups (formed by compass point selection) designate three positions amongst themselves:

  • Recorder – to record the responses of the group
  • Timekeeper – to keep the group members on task
  • Spokesperson – to share out on behalf of the group when time is up

Once the roles have been assigned, provide 5 to 8 minutes for the teams to respond to the following questions:

  • What are the strengths of your style?
  • What are the limitations of your style?
  • What style do you find most difficult to work with and why?
  • What do people from other “directions” or styles need to know about you so you can work together effectively?
  • What’s one thing you value about each of the other three styles?

Once each team has discussed these five questions and come up with something to share with the larger group, have them share their responses out. You may hear things like:

  • North gets impatient with West’s need for details.
  • West gets frustrated by North’s tendency to act before planning.
  • South group members crave personal connections and get uncomfortable when team members’ emotional needs aren’t met.
  • East group members get bored when West gets mired in details; East gets frustrated when North dives in before agreeing on big goals.

Once participants have shared their responses to the five questions, ask them to recall their very positive or very negative team experience. Tell them to take a moment or two to reflect on whether there was anything they learned from this exercise that helps them to better understand why their positive team experience was positive, or why their negative team experience was negative. This can be a great way to provoke some “a-ha!” moments (Allen, 2015).

Finally, shift to the conclusion of the exercise and give participants a few minutes to share their key takeaways from the exercise. Different groups will highlight different takeaways, but make sure to point these out if no one brings them up:

  • This activity increases our awareness of our own and others’ preferences.
  • Increased awareness opens the door to empathy.
  • Our preferences have their strengths and limitations.
  • A diversity of preferences is what makes for better teamwork and results.

You can find more information on this exercise here .

essay about interpersonal skills

17 Exercises for Positive, Fulfilling Relationships

Empower others with the skills to cultivate fulfilling, rewarding relationships and enhance their social wellbeing with these 17 Positive Relationships Exercises [PDF].

Created by experts. 100% Science-based.

In this piece, we defined interpersonal effectiveness, described its importance in terms of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy , and provided several ways for you or your clients to work on improving interpersonal skills.

I hope I communicated my message clearly in this piece, and I hope you found a valuable takeaway from reading it. If you learned something particularly useful, what was it? Do you have other activities or exercises you use to keep your interpersonal skills sharp? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading, and happy skill-building!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free .

  • Allen, G. (2015). A simple exercise to strengthen emotional intelligence in teams. Mind Shift. Retrieved from
  • Linehan, M. M. (2015).  DBT skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Stepp, S. D., Epler, A. J., Jahng, S., & Trull, T. J. (2008). The effect of dialectical behavior therapy skills use on borderline personality disorder features.  Journal of Personality Disorders ,  22 (6), 549-563.
  • Vivyan, C. (2015). Interpersonal effectiveness: Getting on with others using DBT. Get Self Help UK. Retrieved from

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Interpersonal Communication Importance

This essay about the importance of interpersonal communication highlights its pivotal role in fostering understanding, empathy, and connection in human relationships. It emphasizes how effective communication builds bridges between individuals, transcending language barriers and cultural divides to create a sense of belonging and community. Furthermore, the essay underscores the significance of interpersonal communication in both personal and professional spheres, shaping the way we collaborate, innovate, and navigate the world around us. Ultimately, it emphasizes the transformative power of genuine human connection and the importance of honing our communication skills to forge deeper, more meaningful relationships.

How it works

In the bustling marketplace of human interaction, where ideas are exchanged like currency and emotions flow like a bustling river, interpersonal communication stands as the unsung hero, quietly shaping the landscape of our relationships and the trajectory of our lives. It’s the whispered secrets shared between friends, the unspoken understanding that passes between lovers, and the silent solidarity that binds us as a community. In a world filled with noise and distraction, effective interpersonal communication serves as the steady hand that guides us through the cacophony, helping us find meaning, forge connections, and navigate the intricacies of human interaction.

At its essence, interpersonal communication is an art form, a delicate dance of words, gestures, and emotions that transcends language barriers and cultural divides. It’s about more than just transmitting information; it’s about fostering understanding, empathy, and connection. By honing our interpersonal communication skills, we can cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships with those around us, enriching our lives and the lives of others in the process.

One of the most profound aspects of interpersonal communication lies in its ability to build bridges between individuals, bridging the gap between hearts and minds and fostering a sense of belonging and community. Whether through a shared joke, a heartfelt confession, or a simple touch, effective communication allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, forging bonds that transcend the superficialities of everyday interaction. In a world that often feels fragmented and divided, the power of interpersonal communication to bring people together is nothing short of transformative.

Moreover, interpersonal communication plays a crucial role in our personal and professional lives, shaping the way we navigate the world and the opportunities available to us. In the workplace, effective communication is the cornerstone of collaboration, innovation, and success. Clear and concise dialogue ensures that ideas are heard, feedback is given, and goals are achieved with efficiency and precision. Similarly, in our personal lives, strong interpersonal communication skills allow us to navigate the complexities of relationships, express our needs and desires, and resolve conflicts with grace and empathy.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of interpersonal communication is its ability to transcend boundaries and foster connections across time and space. In an increasingly digital world, where face-to-face interaction is often replaced by screens and keyboards, the power of genuine human connection has never been more important. Through platforms like social media and video conferencing, we have the ability to connect with people from all walks of life, forging friendships and relationships that span continents and cultures. In a world that often feels disconnected and isolating, the ability to reach out and connect with others has the potential to change lives, offering hope, support, and companionship to those who need it most.

In conclusion, interpersonal communication is the invisible thread that weaves through the fabric of our lives, connecting us to one another in ways both seen and unseen. It’s the silent language that speaks volumes, the unspoken bond that ties us together, and the foundation upon which our relationships and communities are built. By recognizing the importance of effective interpersonal communication and striving to improve our skills in this area, we can enrich our lives and the lives of those around us, forging deeper connections, fostering understanding, and creating a more compassionate and connected world for all.


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Interpersonal Skills Essay [IELTS Writing Task 2]

Posted by David S. Wills | May 16, 2022 | IELTS Tips , Writing | 1

Interpersonal Skills Essay [IELTS Writing Task 2]

Today, I want to show you a sample band 9 answer for an IELTS writing task 2 question that discusses interpersonal skills. I’ll try and show you a little vocabulary and grammar, as well as how to handle some issues of structure.

Note that if you want feedback on your essays, you should try my writing correction service .

Analysing the Question

Before we begin planning or writing, we must always analyse the question. Here’s our question for today:

Many businesses think that the new employees who have just graduated from schools lack interpersonal skills, such as working with colleagues as a team. What has caused this and what are the solutions to this problem?

This is a cause and solution questio n, as we can see from the second part. The main topic, of course, is the supposed lack of interpersonal skills in recent graduates. Thus, we must write about:

  • Why recent graduates lack interpersonal skills.
  • What can be done to give graduates more interpersonal skills.

We need to think of realistic answers and specifically ones that we can develop a little. It is not a good idea to list 10 reasons why graduates don’t have these skills. Instead, focus on one or two, with plenty of explanation and maybe examples.

Likewise, your solutions should be realistic. Some people use really silly ones, like “Governments should force all graduates to study interpersonal skills.” This is not likely and is hard to justify and explain.

Note also that this is not an opinion essay , so you can’t say anything like “I disagree that graduates lack interpersonal skills…”

Planning your Essay

For my essay, I will argue that universities put too much emphasis on theoretical knowledge. I feel that this would be easy to explain, but more importantly it is also easy to suggest a realistic solution – that universities then incorporate more groupwork into their curricula.

Therefore, I will structure my essay like this:

This is really easy because cause and solution essays can almost always be divided like this – BP 1 for the causes and BP 2 for the solutions. Simple!

ielts writing task 2 essay structure for cause and solution

I have also chosen just one idea for each body paragraph. This allows me to develop those ideas carefully. It is not good to list lots of ideas or name one, say a little, and move on to the next. It is better to choose the strongest idea and explain it intelligently.

This essay touches on the topics of education and business, so we should think of related vocabulary. Specifically, we should think about good words and phrases for people working together. Think “groupwork” and “teamwork” and “cooperation.” These are exactly the sorts of terms that would fit well into this essay. This sort of essay would also benefit from good language related to causing and solving problems.

Here are some words and phrases I will use in my essay:

  • the modern workplace
  • theoretical knowledge
  • university faculties
  • implement solutions
  • group presentation
  • communicative abilities
  • group-based tasks

These are all going to be really helpful for giving precise and effective ideas. We can see how I will use them in the next section.

Sample Band 9 Answer

It is claimed by some business owners and recruiters that graduates nowadays tend to lack interpersonal skills. This essay will first explore why this is the case before then suggesting how it may be remedied.

If it is true that graduates now lack the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in the modern workplace, then that surely can be blamed on the exceptionally high level of theoretical knowledge necessary to achieve a good degree. As universities have become more competitive, the requirements for achieving a degree have gotten much more stringent, and students are required to spend all their time reading books and preparing for difficult assessments. It seems likely that this hinders their opportunities to socialise or work with others on productive tasks.

Solving this problem should not be terribly difficult. In fact, university faculties should pay attention to these complaints and implement solutions into their courses. Perhaps the most obvious suggestion is that students must be required to participate in more group activities throughout their education. For example, rather than studying all day and night to write an essay or sit an exam, students could be asked to prepare a group presentation together with their peers. Ideally, these groups should be picked at random to ensure that students develop the necessary skills to work with others whom they would not have previously chosen to work.

In conclusion, it appears that universities are failing students by not educating them in how to develop their interpersonal skills, and as a result they are struggling in the workplace. These universities should thus require students to develop their communicative abilities through specific group-based tasks.

Notes on Grammar

Because this sort of essay deals with general truths – ie discussing how things currently are – I have mostly used the present simple tense. You shouldn’t try to complicate things beyond that, but definitely it is important to use other tenses when they are needed.

You’ll see in my introduction that I referred to the body of the essay by using the future simple tense:

  • This essay will first explore

This is actually quite common. Because the reader is reading that sentence and then next paragraphs come later, it makes sense to use the future simple here.

Later, I used the present perfect for something that had begun in the past but continues now in the present:

  • universities have become more competitive

I have also used modals effectively in order to give suggestions:

  • university faculties should pay attention to these complaints and implement solutions
  • These universities should thus require students to develop their communicative abilities

Some people think that you need bizarre and complex grammatical structures, but actually what you need most is accuracy, which I have used here.

Finally… are sample essays really helpful? I hope this one was! But find out my full thoughts here:

About The Author

David S. Wills

David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural Cambodia and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. David has worked in many different countries, and for several years designed a writing course for the University of Worcester. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing and he has since written two other books about IELTS. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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National Research Council (US) Committee on the Assessment of 21st Century Skills. Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

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Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop.

  • Hardcopy Version at National Academies Press

3 Assessing Interpersonal Skills

The second cluster of skills—broadly termed interpersonal skills—are those required for relating to other people. These sorts of skills have long been recognized as important for success in school and the workplace, said Stephen Fiore, professor at the University of Central Florida, who presented findings from a paper about these skills and how they might be assessed (Salas, Bedwell, and Fiore, 2011). 1 Advice offered by Dale Carnegie in the 1930s to those who wanted to “win friends and influence people,” for example, included the following: be a good listener; don’t criticize, condemn, or complain; and try to see things from the other person’s point of view. These are the same sorts of skills found on lists of 21st century skills today. For example, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills includes numerous interpersonal capacities, such as working creatively with others, communicating clearly, and collaborating with others, among the skills students should learn as they progress from preschool through postsecondary study (see Box 3-1 for the definitions of the relevant skills in the organization’s P-21 Framework).

Interpersonal Capacities in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework. Develop, implement, and communicate new ideas to others effectively Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work (more...)

It seems clear that these are important skills, yet definitive labels and definitions for the interpersonal skills important for success in schooling and work remain elusive: They have been called social or people skills, social competencies, soft skills, social self-efficacy, and social intelligence, Fiore said (see, e.g., Ferris, Witt, and Hochwarter, 2001 ; Hochwarter et al., 2006 ; Klein et al., 2006 ; Riggio, 1986 ; Schneider, Ackerman, and Kanfer, 1996 ; Sherer et al., 1982 ; Sternberg, 1985 ; Thorndike, 1920 ). The previous National Research Council (NRC) workshop report that offered a preliminary definition of 21st century skills described one broad category of interpersonal skills ( National Research Council, 2010 , p. 3):

  • Complex communication/social skills: Skills in processing and interpreting both verbal and nonverbal information from others in order to respond appropriately. A skilled communicator is able to select key pieces of a complex idea to express in words, sounds, and images, in order to build shared understanding ( Levy and Murnane, 2004 ). Skilled communicators negotiate positive outcomes with customers, subordinates, and superiors through social perceptiveness, persuasion, negotiation, instructing, and service orientation ( Peterson et al., 1999 ).

These and other available definitions are not necessarily at odds, but in Fiore’s view, the lack of a single, clear definition reflects a lack of theoretical clarity about what they are, which in turn has hampered progress toward developing assessments of them. Nevertheless, appreciation for the importance of these skills—not just in business settings, but in scientific and technical collaboration, and in both K-12 and postsecondary education settings—has been growing. Researchers have documented benefits these skills confer, Fiore noted. For example, Goleman (1998) found they were twice as important to job performance as general cognitive ability. Sonnentag and Lange (2002) found understanding of cooperation strategies related to higher performance among engineering and software development teams, and Nash and colleagues (2003) showed that collaboration skills were key to successful interdisciplinary research among scientists.


The multiplicity of names for interpersonal skills and ways of conceiving of them reflects the fact that these skills have attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive components, Fiore explained. It is useful to consider 21st century skills in basic categories (e.g., cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal), but it is still true that interpersonal skills draw on many capacities, such as knowledge of social customs and the capacity to solve problems associated with social expectations and interactions. Successful interpersonal behavior involves a continuous correction of social performance based on the reactions of others, and, as Richard Murnane had noted earlier, these are cognitively complex tasks. They also require self-regulation and other capacities that fall into the intrapersonal category (discussed in Chapter 4 ). Interpersonal skills could also be described as a form of “social intelligence,” specifically social perception and social cognition that involve processes such as attention and decoding. Accurate assessment, Fiore explained, may need to address these various facets separately.

The research on interpersonal skills has covered these facets, as researchers who attempted to synthesize it have shown. Fiore described the findings of a study ( Klein, DeRouin, and Salas, 2006 ) that presented a taxonomy of interpersonal skills based on a comprehensive review of the literature. The authors found a variety of ways of measuring and categorizing such skills, as well as ways to link them both to outcomes and to personality traits and other factors that affect them. They concluded that interpersonal effectiveness requires various sorts of competence that derive from experience, instinct, and learning about specific social contexts. They put forward their own definition of interpersonal skills as “goal-directed behaviors, including communication and relationship-building competencies, employed in interpersonal interaction episodes characterized by complex perceptual and cognitive processes, dynamic verbal and non verbal interaction exchanges, diverse roles, motivations, and expectancies” (p. 81).

They also developed a model of interpersonal performance, shown in Figure 3-1 , that illustrates the interactions among the influences, such as personality traits, previous life experiences, and the characteristics of the situation; the basic communication and relationship-building skills the individual uses in the situation; and outcomes for the individual, the group, and the organization. To flesh out this model, the researchers distilled sets of skills for each area, as shown in Table 3-1 .

Model of interpersonal performance. NOTE: Big Five personality traits = openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism; EI = emotional intelligence; IPS = interpersonal skills. SOURCE: Stephen Fiore’s presentation. Klein, (more...)

Taxonomy of Interpersonal Skills.

Fiore explained that because these frameworks focus on behaviors intended to attain particular social goals and draw on both attitudes and cognitive processes, they provide an avenue for exploring what goes into the development of effective interpersonal skills in an individual. They also allow for measurement of specific actions in a way that could be used in selection decisions, performance appraisals, or training. More specifically, Figure 3-1 sets up a way of thinking about these skills in the contexts in which they are used. The implication for assessment is that one would need to conduct the measurement in a suitable, realistic context in order to be able to examine the attitudes, cognitive processes, and behaviors that constitute social skills.


One way to assess these skills, Fiore explained, is to look separately at the different components (attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive). For example, as the model in Figure 3-1 indicates, previous life experiences, such as the opportunities an individual has had to engage in successful and unsuccessful social interactions, can be assessed through reports (e.g., personal statements from applicants or letters of recommendation from prior employers). If such narratives are written in response to specific questions about types of interactions, they may provide indications of the degree to which an applicant has particular skills. However, it is likely to be difficult to distinguish clearly between specific social skills and personality traits, knowledge, and cognitive processes. Moreover, Fiore added, such narratives report on past experience and may not accurately portray how one would behave or respond in future experiences.

The research on teamwork (or collaboration)—a much narrower concept than interpersonal skills—has used questionnaires that ask people to rate themselves and also ask for peer ratings of others on dimensions such as communication, leadership, and self-management. For example, Kantrowitz (2005) collected self-report data on two scales: performance standards for various behaviors, and comparison to others in the subjects’ working groups. Loughry, Ohland, and Moore (2007) asked members of work teams in science and technical contexts to rate one another on five general categories: contribution to the team’s work; interaction with teammates; contribution to keeping the team on track; expectations for quality; and possession of relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Another approach, Fiore noted, is to use situational judgment tests (SJTs), which are multiple-choice assessments of possible reactions to hypothetical teamwork situations to assess capacities for conflict resolution, communication, and coordination, as Stevens and Campion (1999) have done. The researchers were able to demonstrate relationships between these results and both peers’ and supervisors’ ratings and to ratings of job performance. They were also highly correlated to employee aptitude test results.

Yet another approach is direct observation of team interactions. By observing directly, researchers can avoid the potential lack of reliability inherent in self- and peer reports, and can also observe the circumstances in which behaviors occur. For example, Taggar and Brown (2001) developed a set of scales related to conflict resolution, collaborative problem solving, and communication on which people could be rated.

Though each of these approaches involve ways of distinguishing specific aspects of behavior, it is still true, Fiore observed, that there is overlap among the constructs—skills or characteristics—to be measured. In his view, it is worth asking whether it is useful to be “reductionist” in parsing these skills. Perhaps more useful, he suggested, might be to look holistically at the interactions among the facets that contribute to these skills, though means of assessing in that way have yet to be determined. He enumerated some of the key challenges in assessing interpersonal skills.

The first concerns the precision, or degree of granularity, with which interpersonal expertise can be measured. Cognitive scientists have provided models of the progression from novice to expert in more concrete skill areas, he noted. In K-12 education contexts, assessment developers have looked for ways to delineate expectations for particular stages that students typically go through as their knowledge and understanding grow more sophisticated. Hoffman (1998) has suggested the value of a similar continuum for interpersonal skills. Inspired by the craft guilds common in Europe during the Middle Ages, Hoffman proposed that assessment developers use the guidelines for novices, journeymen, and master craftsmen, for example, as the basis for operational definitions of developing social expertise. If such a continuum were developed, Fiore noted, it should make it possible to empirically examine questions about whether adults can develop and improve in response to training or other interventions.

Another issue is the importance of the context in which assessments of interpersonal skills are administered. By definition, these skills entail some sort of interaction with other people, but much current testing is done in an individualized way that makes it difficult to standardize. Sophisticated technology, such as computer simulations, or even simpler technology can allow for assessment of people’s interactions in a standardized scenario. For example, Smith-Jentsch and colleagues (1996) developed a simulation of an emergency room waiting room, in which test takers interacted with a video of actors following a script, while others have developed computer avatars that can interact in the context of scripted events. When well executed, Fiore explained, such simulations may be able to elicit emotional responses, allowing for assessment of people’s self-regulatory capacities and other so-called soft skills.

Workshop participants noted the complexity of trying to take the context into account in assessment. For example, one noted both that behaviors may make sense only in light of previous experiences in a particular environment, and that individuals may display very different social skills in one setting (perhaps one in which they are very comfortable) than another (in which they are not comfortable). Another noted that the clinical psychology literature would likely offer productive insights on such issues.

The potential for technologically sophisticated assessments also highlights the evolving nature of social interaction and custom. Generations who have grown up interacting via cell phone, social networking, and tweeting may have different views of social norms than their parents had. For example, Fiore noted, a telephone call demands a response, and many younger people therefore view a call as more intrusive and potentially rude than a text message, which one can respond to at his or her convenience. The challenge for researchers is both to collect data on new kinds of interactions and to consider new ways to link the content of interactions to the mode of communication, in order to follow changes in what constitutes skill at interpersonal interaction. The existing definitions and taxonomies of interpersonal skills, he explained, were developed in the context of interactions that primarily occur face to face, but new technologies foster interactions that do not occur face to face or in a single time window.

In closing, Fiore returned to the conceptual slippage in the terms used to describe interpersonal skills. Noting that the etymological origins of both “cooperation” and “collaboration” point to a shared sense of working together, he explained that the word “coordination” has a different meaning, even though these three terms are often used as if they were synonymous. The word “coordination” captures instead the concepts of ordering and arranging—a key aspect of teamwork. These distinctions, he observed, are a useful reminder that examining the interactions among different facets of interpersonal skills requires clarity about each facet.


The workshop included examples of four different types of assessments of interpersonal skills intended for different educational and selection purposes—an online portfolio assessment designed for high school students; an online assessment for community college students; a situational judgment test used to select students for medical school in Belgium; and a collection of assessment center approaches used for employee selection, promotion, and training purposes.

The first example was the portfolio assessment used by the Envision High School in Oakland, California, to assess critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. At Envision Schools, a project-based learning approach is used that emphasizes the development of deeper learning skills, integration of arts and technology into core subjects, and real-world experience in workplaces. 2 The focus of the curriculum is to prepare students for college, especially those who would be the first in their family to attend college. All students are required to assemble a portfolio in order to graduate. Bob Lenz, cofounder of Envision High School, discussed this online portfolio assessment.

The second example was an online, scenario-based assessment used for community college students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. The focus of the program is on developing students’ social/communication skills as well as their technical skills. Louise Yarnall, senior research scientist with SRI, made this presentation.

Filip Lievens, professor of psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, described the third example, a situational judgment test designed to assess candidates’ skill in responding to health-related situations that require interpersonal skills. The test is used for high-stakes purposes.

The final presentation was made by Lynn Gracin Collins, chief scientist for SH&A/Fenestra, who discussed a variety of strategies for assessing interpersonal skills in employment settings. She focused on performance-based assessments, most of which involve role-playing activities.

Online Portfolio Assessment of High School Students 3

Bob Lenz described the experience of incorporating in the curriculum and assessing several key interpersonal skills in an urban high school environment. Envision Schools is a program created with corporate and foundation funding to serve disadvantaged high school students. The program consists of four high schools in the San Francisco Bay area that together serve 1,350 primarily low-income students. Sixty-five percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and 70 percent are expected to be the first in their families to graduate from college. Most of the students, Lenz explained, enter the Envision schools at approximately a sixth-grade level in most areas. When they begin the Envision program, most have exceedingly negative feelings about school; as Lenz put it they “hate school and distrust adults.” The program’s mission is not only to address this sentiment about schools, but also to accelerate the students’ academic skills so that they can get into college and to develop the other skills they will need to succeed in life.

Lenz explained that tracking students’ progress after they graduate is an important tool for shaping the school’s approach to instruction. The first classes graduated from the Envision schools 2 years ago. Lenz reported that all of their students meet the requirements to attend a 4-year college in California (as opposed to 37 percent of public high school students statewide), and 94 percent of their graduates enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges after graduation. At the time of the presentation, most of these students (95 percent) had re-enrolled for the second year of college. Lenz believes the program’s focus on assessment, particularly of 21st century skills, has been key to this success.

The program emphasizes what they call the “three Rs”: rigor, relevance, and relationships. Project-based assignments, group activities, and workplace projects are all activities that incorporate learning of interpersonal skills such as leadership, Lenz explained. Students are also asked to assess themselves regularly. Researchers from the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) assisted the Envision staff in developing a College Success Assessment System that is embedded in the curriculum. Students develop portfolios with which they can demonstrate their learning in academic content as well as 21st century skill areas. The students are engaged in three goals: mastery knowledge, application of knowledge, and metacognition.

The components of the portfolio, which is presented at the end of 12th grade, include

  • A student-written introduction to the contents
  • Examples of “mastery-level” student work (assessed and certified by teachers prior to the presentation)
  • Reflective summaries of work completed in five core content areas
  • An artifact of and a written reflection on the workplace learning project
  • A 21st century skills assessment

Students are also expected to defend their portfolios, and faculty are given professional development to guide the students in this process. Eventually, Lenz explained, the entire portfolio will be archived online.

Lenz showed examples of several student portfolios to demonstrate the ways in which 21st century skills, including interpersonal ones, are woven into both the curriculum and the assessments. In his view, teaching skills such as leadership and collaboration, together with the academic content, and holding the students to high expectations that incorporate these sorts of skills, is the best way to prepare the students to succeed in college, where there may be fewer faculty supports.

STEM Workforce Training Assessments 4

Louise Yarnall turned the conversation to assessment in a community college setting, where the technicians critical to many STEM fields are trained. She noted the most common approach to training for these workers is to engage them in hands-on practice with the technologies they are likely to encounter. This approach builds knowledge of basic technical procedures, but she finds that it does little to develop higher-order cognitive skills or the social skills graduates need to thrive in the workplace.

Yarnall and a colleague have outlined three categories of primary skills that technology employers seek in new hires ( Yarnall and Ostrander, in press ):


  • Translating client needs into technical specifications
  • Researching technical information to meet client needs
  • Justifying or defending technical approach to client
  • Reaching consensus on work team
  • Polling work team to determine ideas
  • Using tools, languages, and principles of domain
  • Generating a product that meets specific technical criteria
  • Interpreting problems using principles of domain

In her view, new strategies are needed to incorporate these skills into the community college curriculum. To build students’ technical skills and knowledge, she argued, faculty need to focus more on higher-order thinking and application of knowledge, to press students to demonstrate their competence, and to practice. Cooperative learning opportunities are key to developing social skills and knowledge. For the skills that are both social and technical, students need practice with reflection and feedback opportunities, modeling and scaffolding of desirable approaches, opportunities to see both correct and incorrect examples, and inquiry-based instructional practices.

She described a project she and colleagues, in collaboration with community college faculty, developed that was designed to incorporate this thinking, called the Scenario-Based Learning Project (see Box 3-2 ). This team developed eight workplace scenarios—workplace challenges that were complex enough to require a team response. The students are given a considerable amount of material with which to work. In order to succeed, they would need to figure out how to approach the problem, what they needed, and how to divide up the effort. Students are also asked to reflect on the results of the effort and make presentations about the solutions they have devised. The project begins with a letter from the workplace manager (the instructor plays this role and also provides feedback throughout the process) describing the problem and deliverables that need to be produced. For example, one task asked a team to produce a website for a bicycle club that would need multiple pages and links.

Sample Constructs, Evidence of Learning, and Assessment Task Features for Scenario-Based Learning Projects. Ability to document system requirements using a simplified use case format; ability to address user needs in specifying system requirements. Presented (more...)

Yarnall noted they encountered a lot of resistance to this approach. Community college students are free to drop a class if they do not like the instructor’s approach, and because many instructors are adjunct faculty, their positions are at risk if their classes are unpopular. Scenario-based learning can be risky, she explained, because it can be demanding, but at the same time students sometimes feel unsure that they are learning enough. Instructors also sometimes feel unprepared to manage the teams, give appropriate feedback, and track their students’ progress.

Furthermore, Yarnall continued, while many of the instructors did enjoy developing the projects, the need to incorporate assessment tools into the projects was the least popular aspect of the program. Traditional assessments in these settings tended to measure recall of isolated facts and technical procedures, and often failed to track the development or application of more complex cognitive skills and professional behaviors, Yarnall explained. She and her colleagues proposed some new approaches, based on the theoretical framework known as evidence-centered design. 5 Their goal was to guide the faculty in designing tasks that would elicit the full range of knowledge and skills they wanted to measure, and they turned to what are called reflection frameworks that had been used in other contexts to elicit complex sets of skills ( Herman, Aschbacher, and Winters, 1992 ).

They settled on an interview format, which they called Evidence-Centered Assessment Reflection, to begin to identify the specific skills required in each field, to identify the assessment features that could produce evidence of specific kinds of learning, and then to begin developing specific prompts, stimuli, performance descriptions, and scoring rubrics for the learning outcomes they wanted to measure. The next step was to determine how the assessments would be delivered and how they would be validated. Assessment developers call this process a domain analysis—its purpose was to draw from the instructors a conceptual map of what they were teaching and particularly how social and social-technical skills fit into those domains.

Based on these frameworks, the team developed assessments that asked students, for example, to write justifications for the tools and procedures they intended to use for a particular purpose; rate their teammates’ ability to listen, appreciate different points of view, or reach a consensus; or generate a list of questions they would ask a client to better understand his or her needs. They used what Yarnall described as “coarse, three-level rubrics” to make the scoring easy to implement with sometimes-reluctant faculty, and have generally averaged 79 percent or above in inter-rater agreement.

Yarnall closed with some suggestions for how their experience might be useful for a K-12 context. She noted the process encouraged thinking about how students might apply particular knowledge and skills, and how one might distinguish between high- and low-quality applications. Specifically, the developers were guided to consider what it would look like for a student to use the knowledge or skills successfully—what qualities would stand out and what sorts of products or knowledge would demonstrate a particular level of understanding or awareness.

Assessing Medical Students’ Interpersonal Skills 6

Filip Lievens described a project conducted at Ghent University in Belgium, in which he and colleagues developed a measure of interpersonal skills in a high-stakes context: medical school admissions. The project began with a request from the Belgian government, in 1997, for a measure of these skills that could be used not only to measure the current capacities of physicians, but also to predict the capacities of candidates and thus be useful for selection. Lievens noted the challenge was compounded by the fact the government was motivated by some negative publicity about the selection process for medical school.

One logical approach would have been to use personality testing, often conducted through in-person interviews, but that would have been very difficult to implement with the large numbers of candidates involved, Lievens explained. A paper on another selection procedure, called “low-fidelity simulation” ( Motowidlo et al., 1990 ), suggested an alternative. This approach is also known as a situational judgment test, mentioned above, in which candidates select from a set of possible responses to a situation that is described in writing or presented using video. It is based on the proposition that procedural knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of possible courses of action can be measured, and that the results would be predictive of later behaviors, even if the instrument does not measure the complex facets that go into such choices. A sample item from the Belgian assessment, including a transcription of the scenario and the possible responses, is shown in Box 3-3 . In the early stages of the project, the team used videotaped scenarios, but more recently they have experimented with presenting them through other means, including in written format.

Sample Item from the Situational Judgment Test Used for Admissions to Medical School in Belgium. Situation: Patient: So, this physiotherapy is really going to help me?

Lievens noted a few differences between medical education in Belgium and the United States that influenced decisions about the assessment. In Belgium, prospective doctors must pass an admissions exam at age 18 to be accepted for medical school, which begins at the level that for Americans is the less structured 4-year undergraduate program. The government-run exam is given twice a year to approximately 4,000 students in total, and it has a 30 percent pass rate. Once accepted for medical school, students may choose the university at which they will study—the school must accept all of the students who select it.

The assessment’s other components include 40 items covering knowledge of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology and 50 items covering general cognitive ability (verbal, numerical, and figural reasoning). The two interpersonal skills addressed—in 30 items—are building and maintaining relationships and exchanging information.

Lievens described several challenges in the development of the interpersonal component. First, it was not possible to pilot test any items because of a policy that students could not be asked to complete items that did not count toward their scores. In response to both fast-growing numbers of candidates as well as technical glitches with video presentations, the developers decided to present all of the prompts in a paper-and-pencil format. A more serious problem was feedback they received questioning whether each of the test questions had only one correct answer. To address this, the developers introduced a system for determining correct answers through consensus among a group of experts.

Because of the high stakes for this test, they have also encountered problems with maintaining the security of the test items. For instance, Lievens reported that items have appeared for sale on eBay, and they have had problems with students who took the test multiple times simply to learn the content. Developing alternate test forms was one strategy for addressing this problem.

Lievens and his colleagues have conducted a study of the predictive validity of the test in which they collected data on four cohorts of students (a total of 4,538) who took the test and entered medical school ( Lievens and Sackett, 2011 ). They examined GPA and internship performance data for 519 students in the initial group who completed the 7 years required for the full medical curriculum as well as job performance data for 104 students who later became physicians. As might be expected, Lievens observed, the cognitive component of the test was a strong predictor, particularly for the first years of the 7-year course, whereas the interpersonal portion was not useful for predicting GPA (see Figure 3-2 ). However, Figure 3-3 shows this component of the test was much better at predicting the students’ later performance in internships and in their first 9 years as practicing physicians.

Correlations between cognitive and interpersonal components (situational judgment test, or SJT) of the medical school admission test and medical school GPA. SOURCE: Filip Lievens’ presentation. Used with permission.

Correlations between the cognitive and interpersonal components (situational judgment test, or SJT) of the medical school admission test and internship/job performance. SOURCE: Filip Lievens’ presentation. Used with permission.

Lievens also reported the results of a study of the comparability of alternate forms of the test. The researchers compared results for three approaches to developing alternate forms. The approaches differed in the extent to which the characteristics of the situation presented in the items were held constant across the forms. The correlations between scores on the alternate forms ranged from .34 to .68, with the higher correlation occurring for the approach that maintained the most similarities in the characteristics of the items across the forms. The exact details of this study are too complex to present here, and the reader is referred to the full report ( Lievens and Sackett, 2007 ) for a more complete description.

Lievens summarized a few points he has observed about the addition of the interpersonal skills component to the admissions test:

  • While cognitive assessments are better at predicting GPA, the assessments of interpersonal skills were superior at predicting performance in internships and on the job.
  • Applicants respond favorably to the interpersonal component of the test—Lievens did not claim this component is the reason but noted a sharp increase in the test-taking population.
  • Success rates for admitted students have also improved. The percentage of students who successfully passed the requirements for the first academic year increased from 30 percent, prior to having the exam in place, to 80 percent after the exam was installed. While not making a causal claim, Lievens noted that the increased pass rate may be due to the fact that universities have also changed their curricula to place more emphasis on interpersonal skills, especially in the first year.

Assessment Centers 8

Lynn Gracin Collins began by explaining what an assessment center is. She noted the International Congress on Assessment Center Methods describes an assessment center as follows 9 :

a standardized evaluation of behavior based on multiple inputs. Several trained observers and techniques are used. Judgments about behavior are made, in major part, from specifically developed assessment simulations. These judgments are pooled in a meeting among the assessors or by a statistical integration process. In an integration discussion, comprehensive accounts of behavior—and often ratings of it—are pooled. The discussion results in evaluations of the assessees’ performance on the dimensions or other variables that the assessment center is designed to measure.

She emphasized that key aspects of an assessment center are that they are standardized, based on multiple types of input, involve trained observers, and use simulations. Assessment centers had their first industrial application in the United States about 50 years ago at AT&T. Collins said they are widely favored within the business community because, while they have guidelines to ensure they are carried out appropriately, they are also flexible enough to accommodate a variety of purposes. Assessment centers have the potential to provide a wealth of information about how someone performs a task. An important difference with other approaches is that the focus is not on “what would you do” or “what did you do”; instead, the approach involves watching someone actually perform the tasks. They are commonly used for the purpose of (1) selection and promotion, (2) identification of training and development needs, and (3) skill enhancement through simulations.

Collins said participants and management see them as a realistic job preview, and when used in a selection context, prospective employees actually experience what the job would entail. In that regard, Collins commented it is not uncommon for candidates—during the assessment—to “fold up their materials and say if this is what the job is, I don’t want it.” Thus, the tasks themselves can be instructive, useful for experiential learning, and an important selection device.

Some examples of the skills assessed include the following:

  • Interpersonal : communication, influencing others, learning from interactions, leadership, teamwork, fostering relationships, conflict management
  • Cognitive : problem solving, decision making, innovation, creativity, planning and organizing
  • Intrapersonal : adaptability, drive, tolerance for stress, motivation, conscientiousness

To provide a sense of the steps involved in developing assessment center tasks, Collins laid out the general plan for a recent assessment they developed called the Technology Enhanced Assessment Center (TEAC). The steps are shown in Box 3-4 .

Steps involved in Developing the Technology Enhanced Assessment Center. SOURCE: Adapted from presentation by Lynn Gracin Collins. Used with permission.

Assessment centers make use of a variety of types of tasks to simulate the actual work environment. One that Collins described is called an “inbox exercise,” which consists of a virtual desktop showing received e-mail messages (some of which are marked “high priority”), voice messages, and a calendar that includes some appointments for that day. The candidate is observed and tracked as he or she proceeds to deal with the tasks presented through the inbox. The scheduled appointments on the calendar are used for conducting role-playing tasks in which the candidate has to participate in a simulated work interaction. This may involve a phone call, and the assessor/observer plays the role of the person being called. With the scheduled role-plays, the candidate may receive some information about the nature of the appointment in advance so that he or she can prepare for the appointment. There are typically some unscheduled role-playing tasks as well, in order to observe the candidate’s on-the-spot performance. In some instances, the candidate may also be expected to make a presentation. Assessors observe every activity the candidate performs.

Everything the candidate does at the virtual desktop is visible to the assessor(s) in real time, although in a “behind the scenes” manner that is blind to the candidate. The assessor can follow everything the candidate does, including what they do with every message in the inbox, any responses they make, and any entries they make on the calendar.

Following the inbox exercise, all of the observers/assessors complete evaluation forms. The forms are shared, and the ratings are discussed during a debriefing session at which the assessors come to consensus about the candidate. Time is also reserved to provide feedback to the candidate and to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Collins reported that a good deal of information has been collected about the psychometric qualities of assessment centers. She characterized their reliabilities as adequate, with test-retest reliability coefficients in the .70 range. She said a wide range of inter-rater reliabilities have been reported, generally ranging from .50 to .94. The higher inter-rater reliabilities are associated with assessments in which the assessors/raters are well trained and have access to training materials that clearly explain the exercises, the constructs, and the scoring guidelines. Providing behavioral summary scales, which describe the actual behaviors associated with each score level, also help the assessors more accurately interpret the scoring guide.

She also noted considerable information is available about the validity of assessment centers. The most popular validation strategy is to examine evidence of content validity, which means the exercises actually measure the skills and competencies that they are intended to measure. A few studies have examined evidence of criterion-related validity, looking at the relationship between performance on the assessment center exercises and job performance. She reported validities of .41 to .48 for a recent study conducted by her firm ( SH&A/Fenestra, 2007 ) and .43 for a study by Byham (2010) . Her review of the research indicates that assessment center results show incremental validity over personality tests, cognitive tests, and interviews.

One advantage of assessment center methods is they appear not to have adverse impact on minority groups. Collins said research documents that they tend to be unbiased in predictions of job performance. Further, they are viewed by participants as being fairer than other forms of assessment, and they have received positive support from the courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Assessment centers can be expensive and time intensive, which is one of the challenges associated with using them. An assessment center in a traditional paradigm (as opposed to a high-tech paradigm) can cost between $2,500 and $10,000 per person. The features that affect cost are the number of assessors, the number of exercises, the length of the assessment, the type of report, and the type of feedback process. They can be logistically difficult to coordinate, depending on whether they use a traditional paradigm in which people need to be brought to a single location as opposed to a technology paradigm where much can be handled remotely and virtually. The typical assessment at a center lasts a full day, which means they are resource intensive and can be difficult to scale up to accommodate a large number of test takers.

Lievens mentioned but did not show data indicating (1) that the predictive validity of the interpersonal items for later performance was actually greater than the predictive validity of the cognitive items for GPA, and (2) that women perform slightly better than men on the interpersonal items.

See http://www7 ​.national-academies ​.org/bota/21st ​_Century_Workshop_Salas_Fiore_Paper ​.pdf [August 2011].

See http://www ​ [August 2011] for additional information about Envision Schools.

Lenz’s presentation is available at http://www7 ​.national-academies ​.org/bota/21st ​_Century_Workshop_Lenz.pdf [August 2011].

Yarnall’s presentation is available at http://www7 ​.national-academies ​.org/bota/21st ​_Century_Workshop_Yarnall.pdf [August 2011].

See Mislevy and Risconscente (2006) for an explanation of evidence-centered design.

Lievens’ presentation is available at http://www7 ​.national-academies ​.org/bota/21st ​_Century_Workshop_Lievens.pdf [August 2011].

Collins’ presentation is available at http://www7 ​.national-academies ​.org/bota/21st ​_Century_Workshop_Collins.pdf [August 2011].

See http://www ​.assessmentcenters ​.org/articles/whatisassess1.asp [July 2011].

  • Cite this Page National Research Council (US) Committee on the Assessment of 21st Century Skills. Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. 3, Assessing Interpersonal Skills.
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Interpersonal Skills in a Nursing Essay

Published by Alvin Nicolas at November 24th, 2022 , Revised On January 31, 2024

The importance of interpersonal skills in the nursing profession cannot be understated. Nurses are required to have the ability to communicate and interact well with their patients and other people to provide the most effective care and treatment.

But how do you demonstrate your interpersonal skills in a nursing essay? What is the significance of interpersonal skills in a nursing essay? Do I need to present my interpersonal skills in a nursing essay? 

Suppose these are the questions looming over your head. In that case, there is no need to panic because every year, hundreds and thousands of students in the UK and worldwide learn to showcase their interpersonal skills in nursing writing correctly. 

When do you Need Interpersonal Skills in Writing?

You must demonstrate your interpersonal skills every time you write a reflective nursing essay. A reflective essay is where you will look back on, or reflects upon, your experiences and how they caused personal change or improvement. 

Reflective essays allow you to describe experiences or moments from your life where you had to rely on your interpersonal and communication skills with individuals and organisations to ensure the best possible outcome. 

8 Key Interpersonal Skills for your Nursing Essay

Below we will briefly look at the 8 most critical interpersonal skills that nursing students can showcase in their essays for the best results. 

1. Communication

Communication is an essential skill in the field of nursing. As a nurse, it is vitally important for you to communicate well to deal with situations where information needs to be exchanged or passed on promptly. 

2. Teamwork

Teamwork makes the dream work. As a nursing student, you must shed light on your teamwork expertise to demonstrate your ability to handle jobs that require the entire nursing unit to work together. 

3. Upbeat Attitude

If you are unhappy at work, your patients will likely notice it. Many of the patients are already depressed about their situations. Your upbeat attitude can go a long way towards improving their morale. 

4. Negotiation 

Negotiation in nursing is a two process that requires two conditions: a degree of disagreement from one party or both parties and an agreement to exchange services, goods, information or time for money. Professional nurses learn to hone their negotiation skills to maximise their value in everyday dealings.  

5. Listening 

A good nurse is a good listener. When writing a reflective essay, you must aim to talk about your listening skills. As a successful nurse, you must demonstrate the ability to pay attention to what your patients say. That is critical for successful patient-centred care, particularly for acquiring valuable medical data. 

6. Leadership 

Leadership and decision-making are the two essential qualities of a nurse. Every nurse who wants to excel in her career must be a good leader and decision-maker. A good nurse leader is compassionate and empathetic and possesses emotional intelligence skills characteristics.

7. Empathy 

Write about your compassion, empathetic nature, and ability to understand and assist others. A nurse needs to understand what their patients are going through to correctly identify their needs, especially if they have no friends or family. 

8. Conflict management

When managing conflicts at the workplace, as a nurse, you will need to be able to recognise the early signs of a dispute. Make sure you highlight your capabilities to be proactive, actively listen, remain calm, identify the issue and propose an effective solution. 

Also Read: 6cs of a nursing essay

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Interpersonal skills in a nursing essay demonstrate your ability to deal with different situations at the workplace when interacting with your patients and other people. It would be best if you referred to your interpersonal in the traditional reflective essay. 

The most common interpersonal skills you could base your essay on include but are not limited to communication, positive attitude, listening, leadership, compassion, conflict resolution and teamwork. 

If you are looking for an expert to write a flawless nursing argumentative or reflective nursing essay, look at our services without losing any more time.  

How to showcase interpersonal skills in a nursing essay?

  • Highlight the importance of interpersonal skills in nursing practice.
  • Describe specific instances where you demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills with patients, families, and colleagues.
  • Provide examples of how you established rapport with patients and made them feel comfortable and heard.
  • Discuss how you communicated effectively and empathetically with patients and families, especially during difficult situations.
  • Explain how you collaborated with healthcare professionals from different disciplines to ensure the best patient outcomes.
  • Describe how you actively listened to patients and families and responded to their needs and concerns.
  • Discuss how you maintained professional boundaries while building trusting relationships with patients.
  • Highlight any training or continuing education you have completed improving your interpersonal skills.
  • Emphasise the impact your interpersonal skills had on patient care and outcomes.
  • Conclude by reiterating the importance of interpersonal skills in nursing practice and how you will continue to develop and utilise them in the future.

What interpersonal skills are required in a nursing essay?

You should have the following interpersonal skills in a nursing essay:

  • Good Communication 
  • Teamwork Expertise 
  • Upbeat Attitude 
  • Negotiation 
  • Leadership 
  • Conflict Management 

How to improve your interpersonal skills as a nursing student?

You can follow the given tips to improve your interpersonal skills, which are required in dealings with patients and co-workers, and also while writing your reflective essay. 

  • Practice Active Listening
  • Develop Empathy
  • Improve Your Communication Skills
  • Be Open-Minded
  • Develop Your Teamwork Skills
  • Learn Conflict Resolution Skills
  • Develop Your Leadership Skills
  • Attend Workshops And Training Sessions
  • Seek Feedback

Why are interpersonal skills important for nurses?

  • Patients feel more comfortable and trust nurses who exhibit strong interpersonal skills.
  • Interpersonal skills help nurses build rapport with patients, leading to better communication and improved patient outcomes.
  • Effective communication skills help nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals, leading to better teamwork and coordinated care.
  • Interpersonal skills are essential for conflict resolution, which is crucial in high-pressure situations.
  • Good interpersonal skills help nurses provide emotional support to patients and their families during difficult times.
  • Nurses with strong interpersonal skills are more likely to succeed in leadership roles and advance their careers.

You have to show these interpersonal skills in your nursing essay to demonstrate that you can deal with different people and situations successfully.

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Persuasive essays are of four kinds; they are: Discursive, Argumentative, Exegetical, and Expository. This article presents differences and similarities between the different types of persuasive essays.

The Sat essay is almost like a formal essay assigned in college for which you might have to examine some content. The SAT essay might be optional, but we suggest taking it and showing the universities that you are ready to be on board.

A reflective essay is a creative writing approach that involves self-reflection regarding an event or scenario. The goal of a reflective paper is to express your insights or articulate your thoughts about a particular experience.

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Research Associate - Biomedical Engineering

Date: May 22, 2024

Title: Research Associate

Department: Biomedical Engineering

School: School of Engineering

Location: Wickenden Building

Supervisor Name and Title: Shuo Li, Professor


We are seeking to appoint a Research Associate to work on an AI in imaging project.

Working with a high degree of independence, the Research Associate will develop and publish the state-of-the-art machine learning and medical image analysis algorithms.

Working closely with the principal investigator and in collaboration with the research team, the Research Associate will coordinate and conduct all research activities in lab, managing complex research of a non-routine nature.

The research associate will monitor, and revise data collection tools and procedures as warranted and assist the principal investigator with data management and study alignment with regulatory oversight.

The research associate will communicate with clinical staff at the data collection sites, co-supervise students and research assistants as well as address problems that may occur.


  • Coordinate and conduct research activities in the laboratory. (56%)
  • Write and publish research papers. (34%)
  • Address key issues in data collection, and cleaning. (10%)


  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Department: Daily contact with the principal investigator, co-investigators, and other research team members to collaborate on work.

University: Regular contact with investigators conducting similar research within the university at education and research meetings to exchange information.

External: Regular contact with medical staff at University Hospitals, and with collaborating research institutions and their research staff to exchange information.

Students: Regular contact with graduate students and fellows who may assist with the project for supervisory purposes.


Supervise the work of students, trainees, and research assistants in the laboratory.


We are looking for a candidate who has:

  • a PhD (or near completion) in computer science, biomedical engineering, or a relevant areas
  • Relevant expertise in computer vision and machine learning desired
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct research/scholarly activities under limited supervision
  • The ability and a willingness to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams to contribute to long-term research goals
  • A strong track record of publishing their research
  • Excellent communication (written and verbal), organizational and problem-solving skills with attention to detail
  • High level interpersonal skills, including the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues
  • A demonstrated ability to complete work in timely fashion and to write up results for publication.


  • Proactive, independent and self-directed in performing work with excellence.
  • Highly organized with a keen ability to develop state-of-art AI algorithms, documents and data in coordination with other team members, often across institutions.
  • Excellent social and interpersonal skills.
  • Strong project management / coordination and data management skills.
  • Highly motivated, conscientious, and willing to learn.
  • Ability to work collaboratively within a team.
  • Ability to work under limited supervision and to do research independently.
  • Ability to administer data collection instruments.


No exposure to hazardous materials. Must be able to travel between Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals clinic regularly.


Interested applicants should submit a CV and three representative publications to [email protected]


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