By Goke Ilesanmi
One attribute that accelerates human success is strong interpersonal skills. This is because the way we are perceived by people around us plays a major role in our day-to-day happiness at home, in the office; and also determines our career future among other things. So, no matter how hard we work or brilliant we are, if we cannot relate well with the people around us, our chances of success may be negatively affected.
One error that is very common in interpersonal relationship is to think that it is very simple. In the words of Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, an author, a psychologist and relationship expert, “Cultivating what one hopes will be a successful relationship requires hard work! … Most think that relationships exist to make them happy. When they find that special person, they believe that love will naturally grow. But in relationships we encounter everything, challenges, joy, fulfilment, loss.”
Despite all the training in life, we often fail to learn how to build a relationship in a way that brings out the best in all of us. But it is a must that we should endeavour to take our relationships to the next level. The fact is that conflict is inevitable when people interact and it is important that we should know how to handle such conflict. Azriel Winnett, a relationship management expert says, “But when handled properly, conflict need not drive the parties further apart. On the contrary, it could bring them closer together.”
The fact is that relationships do not suffer as a result of conflict. Rather, what tears otherwise good relationships apart is the tendency to always insist that we are right and the other person is wrong. When there is a misunderstanding, our partner is always to blame. Findings show that the secret wish of every ‘blamer’ is that the other side will later wake up in the morning and say something like, “My dear, now I can understand that I was wrong and you were right. Please forgive me for my misdeed.” Blamers are always disappointed if that morning never comes. If we can distance ourselves from the habit of always blaming other people for relationship misunderstandings, we are definitely on the way to happiness and success.
Dangerous three-letter word
On what inhibits the harmony that we seek so much and deprives us of the peaceful co-existence that is missing in our workplace and social environment, the answer is the three-letter word called “EGO”. Winnett says, “Is the Ego really so bad? Not always. If by ‘ego’ we mean ‘self-esteem’, it’s indispensable. Many people say that we can’t start to love others until we love ourselves first. That’s perfectly true – If we’re talking about the right kind of self-love. But if my Ego means my needs, my honour, my sensitivities, always come first (and probably middle and last), boy, we’re playing with dynamite!”
However, the good news is that there are several concrete things you can do to improve your social skills and become closer to your colleagues, all of which will ultimately help you succeed in your endeavours. The first of these is to endeavour to smile. Only few people want to be around someone who always frowns or looks depressed. Therefore, be physically friendly with your co-workers and people around you. This will attract people to you. Another thing is to show appreciation. Find one positive thing about everyone you work with and let them hear it. Be generous with praise and kind words of encouragement. “Say thanks when someone helps you. Make colleagues feel welcome when they call or stop by your office. If you let others know that they are appreciated, they’ll want to give you their best,” says Dr. Loren Ekroth, a specialist in human communication.
Practising effective listening and communication is another strategy. Listening is a way of demonstrating that you intend to hear and understand another person’s point of view. It means restating, in your own words, what the other person has said. People will appreciate the fact that you always listen to what they have to say. You should also pay close attention to both what you say and how you say it. Being a clear and effective communicator helps you avoid misunderstandings with others. Verbal eloquence projects an image of intelligence and maturity, irrespective of your age.
Another thing you can do to enhance your interpersonal skills is to create an environment that encourages others to work together. You should also take a step beyond simply bringing people together and become someone who resolves conflicts when they arise. That is, endeavour to be an effective mediator. “If co-workers are bickering over personal or professional disagreements, arrange to sit down with both parties and help sort out their differences. By taking on such a leadership role, you will garner respect and admiration from those around you,” Winnett advises.
Another thing is that you should try to be funny or clever. In the words of Ekroth, “Most people are drawn to a person that can make them laugh. Use your sense of humour as an effective tool to lower barriers and gain people’s affection.” Also avoid unnecessary complaints. Avoiding unnecessary complaints will help you to build effective relationships. Susan Dunn, a professional coach who specialises in emotional intelligence says, “There is nothing worse than a chronic complainer or whiner. If you simply have to vent about something, save it for your diary. But spare those around you, or else you’ll get a bad reputation.”
There are also some fundamentals we can learn to help us in our relationships. The first of these is that there is never lack of relationships. Many people believe that love is scarce and that they must hold on to whatever comes their way. This belief can cause such people to get involved with the wrong person, or stay in a relationship that is dangerous for them. Relationships are abundantly available wherever you are. It is unnecessary to hold on to someone out of fear of being alone. Another fundamental is for you to know who you are and what you want in a relationship so that you can avoid being at a loss. A healthy relationship is an expression of two people, both equally valuable. Endeavour to improve your social skills today and you will definitely achieve success.
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GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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