7 Ways to Improve your People Skills at Work

people skills - people in offce with arms in the air

Whatever area of work you choose to enter, there is usually one aspect that is always relevant. You will, more than likely, have to deal with other people. Whether they are clients, colleagues or employees, other people will be a big part of most of our working lives. This is why it is so important to learn proper people skills.

Be pleasant, be memorable, avoid tension

If you become known as someone who is easy, helpful and pleasant to deal with, you are more likely to get what you want or need. You will find job interviews easier and jobs more enjoyable. The more you can avoid conflict or tension, the better it will be for everyone concerned. So, take time to learn how to talk to people. Look for ways of dealing with people at work. Get it right and you will be remembered for all the right reasons.

Here are seven ideas to help hone those people skills.

1. Eye contact

Eye contact is a powerful communications skills and it holds high importance in work place . You can use it even before you being speaking. Looking into the eyes of the other person tells them that you are giving them your full attention. This makes them feel equal to you, feel comfortable and important.

people skills - people at work

Making eye contact in a friendly, calm way also shows people that you are ready to open a conversation with them and responsive to establishing warm, non-threatening contact. Don’t make eye contact for too long, however, or it can turn into staring. This can make people feel uncomfortable .

2. Body language

Another way to help people warm to you before you even open your mouth is through your body language. This is a key aspect of learning people skills. Some good tips to follow here include:

  • Mirroring. If your body languages is the same, or similar to the person you are with this can help them feel more at ease
  • Confidence boosting. To make you look (and consequently feel) more confident, there are ways to hold yourself. Lean back slightly and you’re your arms open and away from your body. Don’t fiddle with your hair or clothes. Keep a good, straight posture and don’t slump.
  • Use appropriate gestures to emphasise what you are saying. Nod with you want someone to agree with you. Show your enthusiasm for what you are saying by waving your arms or hands for emphasis.
  • Personal touch. People often respond well to appropriate touching, such as a handshake or friendly pat on the shoulder.
  • Watch everyone else’s body language. You can learn a lot from how the other person is standing, gesticulating and reacting to what you are saying.

3. Small talk

Never discount the value of a brief friendly chat before getting down to business. People skills often start with a basic, human connection. Asking someone how their weekend went or how their children are doing at school can relax them and make them feel more valued as a person. It also shows that you are more than just a business contact yourself. It makes other people see you as a friendly, well-rounded person with a life outside your work. This presents you in a more interesting light.

4. Active listening

There is a huge difference between hearing what people say to you and actually listening to them. For a start, we don’t just give out messages with our voices – see the body language point above.

people skills- two people talking

Really listen to the tone of voice being used. Does the person sound happy with what they are saying. Or are they secretly reluctant to agree to something or wish they could change the subject? Knowing how to decode the messages being transmitted beyond the actual words is a valuable skill to hone. In short, be a good listener.

5. Be positive

Having a generally positive outlook on life can help with honing your  people skills. We all face problems from time to time, but complaining about them to all and sundry can cause resentment. By all means discuss them with people whom you think can help.

people skills - man using phone

However, try not to complain for the sake of it. Being overly negative can affect working relationships and make people less likely to want to interact with you. This is bad news when it comes to business. Be honest, be positive and show interest in others.

6. Conflict and negotiation

If you know how to handle conflict when it arises and how to negotiate your way to a mutual agreement, these are valuable people skills to have. So don’t ’rise’ to conflict or heightened emotions. Keep your calm and work out how to resolve the issue in hand. Get others involved if necessary and seek negotiation training for yourself if that would help. Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Work out what they want and whether you can both leave the conversation happy.

7. Be a stand-up guy

Finally, people respect others who do what they say they will. Let your word be your bond and establish a reputation for reliability and honesty. If you can show that you have integrity and can be trusted, people will respond to you fare better and will trust you more readily. A trustworthy person is always highly valued in business. This makes standing by what you say and believe in arguably the greatest of all the people skills to have.

In conclusion

Your people skills can determine whether you succeed or fail in the workplace. If you’re looking to get ahead at work, then it is time to improve your people skills. From making eye contact with colleagues, avoiding tension while also being pleasant and using small talk during meetings, we hope the seven tips explored in this article give you an idea on how to start building these important skills.

We believe in the power of people. That’s why we created Umwuga, a community-driven network where you can find talented and generous people to help you improve your communication style or other interpersonal interactions—let’s talk!

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