To be an effective leader and change agent, you have to have more than brain power, you also need the ability to understand others — their feelings, their fears, and what drives them. In order to communicate effectively, we need to spend more time listening and asking purposeful questions and less time talking!
Interpersonal effectiveness refers to how successful one is at understanding (and being understood) by others, as well as how well one is able to maintain relationships. The skills that contribute to interpersonal effectiveness have historically been referred to as soft skills – a misnomer in our opinion, as these skills can be every bit as hard to acquire/develop as any technical skill.
As the launching point of the Viable Insights values blog series, we thought it important to start with this topic. Our team members were given an opportunity to reflect on what this value means to them and their work, and what follows are excerpts from those reflections.
Here’s what interpersonal effectiveness means to our team:
Deven: From my perspective, interpersonal effectiveness means – first and foremost – how you show up. Who are you in the work and the conversations you are having? Based on that, interpersonal effectiveness is how you engage within others (as a result of that, of course). IE, if you will, means being in communication or dialogue 100% – commitment to more than your share of ensuring what is meant is also understood. It’s also setting space for others to feel comfortable to share their experiences to inform the direction of future conversations and planning.
Phil: In my experience, interpersonal effectiveness refers to how well we connect with others. While communication skills are undoubtedly an important factor in how successful we are in relationships, I believe it also comes down to our willingness to understand (and appreciate) the background/experiences and perspectives of those we interact with.
To me, interpersonal effectiveness means that you have gained the knowledge and skills to build, balance, and maintain relationships. To be effective interpersonally means that you have the ability to be assertive, handle conflict, and are able to build relations with those who may not be similar to you.
For me interpersonal effectiveness starts with staying grounded in my body, taking the time to tune into my own emotional and mental state so I can make intentional choices about the kind of work and interaction I’m available for on any given day. Relationships are everything in this work, so my ability to stay present to my own needs and stay present with the people I’m working with on any given day is the key to interpersonal effectiveness.
In my position as coordinator, interpersonal effectiveness is to be a good communicator to the VI team, and everyone for that matter. Effective communication is key to creating a positive relationship with whoever I am interacting with. It means to show up ready to be engaged.
Stay tuned for our next Values Mini-Blog: Honesty