30+ Interpersonal Skills: Definition & How to List on a Resume

Interpersonal skills are one of the most important on-the-job soft skills to obtain. And to list on your resume when applying for a job. What are interpersonal skills? How do they work? And how do you improve them in the workplace?

Let's learn all about interpersonal skills in the workplace and why they're important.

interpersonal skills

What is interpersonal communication?

Interpersonal skills are often misconceived as being the same thing as communication skill sets but they are very different.

In any industry that works with other people or customers, strong interpersonal skills are a valuable asset.

The term interpersonal skills is directly related to how we interact with others. It's not just about communication but rather about interpersonal interaction as a whole.

This diverts back to body language, emotional intelligence, people skills, eye contact, non verbal cues, and verbal communication as a whole.

You can see interpersonal skill defined as a communication process that uses thoughts, feelings, emotions, and ideas to exchange thoughts and process conversation.

When you look at interpersonal skills in relation to an office environment, you get a clear picture of the ability to work together as team members and reduce conflict management in the process.

Difference between interpersonal skills and communication skill

We mentioned earlier that communication and interpersonal is not the same thing. Interpersonal communication is primarily related to the verbal form of contact.

On the same note, we should point out that communication is not just about you talking but also about your listening skills as well. How well do you listen and build relationships?

One should be able to communicate effectively in the workplace with colleagues, employers, and other workplace personnel as well.

The key difference in important interpersonal differentiation as opposed to communication is that interpersonal skills make it more personal.

While interpersonal skills include being able to host a formative conversation, interpersonal communication skills are primarily about the conversation in general.

Good interpersonal skills will be more about the bigger picture in any item of communication.

Interpersonal skills are set apart to include nonverbal cues from simple eye contact to body language and even lack of response in these areas.

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills is a broad category that includes the following.

interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are used as part of communication but they do not define communication in relationships just as public speaking skill will not define your ability to be a good communicator.

These skills are about interacting with people on multiple levels - whether you're in an industry that is customer-facing or you're working with teams on an internal level.

Why are interpersonal skills important?

Interpersonal skills are social skills compiled and used for all relationships. While we are mentioning the workplace in detail here and primarily taking that focus, keep in mind that these skills are used in your personal life as well.

Improving your interpersonal skills will play a role in every aspect of your life and relationships.

Each interaction is impacted with these technical skills of interpersonal relationships.

You can maintain and manage a professional image as well as develop effectively with that outside of your career workforce. It all comes back to how you interact with others.

If you hone your skills using feedback and practice, you will do far better at developing lasting foundations with clients, employees, and other interactions in your life.

Common interview questions about interpersonal skills

You will find that employees are often asked questions in interviews to help determine whether they fit the interpersonal skills needed for the business.

Most jobs require some form of interpersonal interaction and you have to be able to get along with both clients and employees on the job.

Here are some examples of common interview questions that might be looking for interpersonal skill within the workplace.

They include problem-solving as well as the ability to listen and work with colleagues and customers alike.

interpersonal skills

  1. Describe a time in which you had to communicate to a workplace team member about something you disagreed with and how you resolved the conflict.
  2. Can you provide examples of a time in which you had an angry customer and how you diffused the situation.
  3. If you were part of a team project, how would you handle conflict within the team with your colleagues to ensure the project was not negatively affected?

These are some prime examples of how to communicate on a more personal level.

You can't determine someone's skills based on a resume or job application so it is important to effectively discuss the aspects of interpersonal skills in order to determine how effectively you might handle some of the more challenging aspects of building relationships.

Strong Interpersonal skills examples

When it comes to measuring interpersonal skills, we all fall into different levels. It is safe to say that some people will be stronger in some areas than others.

interpersonal skills

However, we all have the ability to develop and improve our interpersonal skills if we are willing to do so. It starts with being familiar with the key concepts in order to build on those interpersonal communication skills as a whole.

Check out these examples of strong interpersonal skills.

Active listening

Listening is more than just hearing the words coming out of someone's mouth. You don't listen with the intention of responding but rather listen to hear what they have to say.

Active listening means you're not forming your own response in your head while the other party is still talking.

With active listening, you will pay attention to things like tone of voice, the word choices in the conversation, the body language if they are in front of you, and every detail of what the person is trying to tell you.

Engage in listening to the details and then use that to engage with others involved in the conversation. The key here is you're not interrupting or speaking over the others but truly listening and engaging.

Dependability

In your career and in your life, you will find that people come to know your dependability.

As you develop a reputation, dependability is an important skill. Employers want to know that they can depend on their people.

You can promise to be dependable all day but you have to prove yourself to be dependable to employers in the professional industry.

Dependability can take on several different areas. It's not just about whether or not you will show up every day for work but also whether you will complete the tasks.

Can you manage your workload as needed?

interpersonal skills

Will fellow team members be able to rely on you for feedback?

What about for following processes and safety and security practices or simply turning off the lights and locking the doors when you finish for the day?

There are many aspects to dependability but the gist of the concept is that you can be relied on.

Leadership

Leadership is not just about management of employees but rather about your decision making in the professional industry.

You do not necessarily have to be in a position of management with employers in order to exhibit leading skills within your career.

A leader will display empathy and patience towards others. They have the ability to interact, make strong decisions, and can value others while working together towards a common goal.

The very definition of a leader is someone who can lead. It doesn't mean they take control but rather that they are contributing towards developing colleagues to complete jobs and manage conflict as required.

Cross-functional team work

A cross functional team uses a group with a variety of skills to meet a specific goal or purpose.

The idea behind cross-functional teamwork is that you take jobs or personnel from different backgrounds and merge them together to bring different strengths to the project.

In this particular design, you develop a team in which each individual has a different strength.

The importance of interpersonal skills will help the teams of diverse backgrounds and skills to work together for the jobs they are responsible for.

Empathy

Empathy is one of those skills that doesn't always come easily.

Emotional intelligence is all about understanding how to show respect to other people's feelings.

While you may not truly understand those feelings, you can relate to them and be understanding of them.

It can be hard to be empathetic but an individual with good interpersonal skills will display emotional intelligence and be able to show understanding and respect for the needs and feelings of those around you.

Compassion

Compassion can be another on the list of good interpersonal skills that is hard to adapt.

Interpersonal skills require us to be able to show compassion towards other individuals for their circumstances and their struggles.

This is relatable to co-workers as well as customers and it is our responsibility to be compassionate and understanding towards those we work with.

It's an understanding relation show that these people feel supported and respected in the workplace or even as your clients.

How to list interpersonal skills on the resume

When you're filling out a job application, creating a cover letter, or perhaps preparing for an interview, interpersonal skills should be an important part of the process.

You will want to be able to identify your interpersonal skills without feeling like you're boasting about self but also without just listing a generic "interpersonal skills."

That term won't be impressive in a career search or on a resume.

When you apply or interview for a job, you need to be creative in how you display interpersonal skills on a resume. On the same note, they need to be obvious.

You can use the skills section of a resume to communicate your skills relative to the job you're applying for.

Pay close attention to the job description, so that you can tie together your skills in relation to the job requirements. Provide an example where it's plausible to do so.

A great example of the best place to form this on your resume is right under technical skills. Here you list your software and systems knowledge.

Directly beneath that, you can prepare additional skills and develop a list relative to the career - such as active listening, team player, open to creative feedback, self-driven, and more.

You should plan to mention your interpersonal skills in the cover letter as well.

Best interpersonal skills for the resume

The best interpersonal skills for a resume will be directly related to the job as well as the business.

Before you display your interpersonal skills, take a deeper look at the business and the job listing article/job description so you can determine what skills you possess that will fit the ability to work within that platform.

You can never go wrong with people skills, verbal communication ability, active listening, dependability, and team player skills.

How to improve your personal skills

Some of us simply have better people skills than others. This doesn't mean that there is something wrong with the individual that has to work a little harder to grow these skills into something greater.

We all have our areas of weakness. Take the opportunity to improve interpersonal skills by building on the foundation of what interpersonal skills are all about.

Here are some basic tips for improving your interpersonal skills.

  • Learn to focus on communication as the basis, listening to feedback (it's free after all), and engaging with others effectively.
  • Learn and understand areas that you can improve and make an effort to practice skills in those particular areas.
  • Identify communication barriers. These include physical barriers, emotional barriers, and prejudices or expectations that can cause barriers.
  • Free yourself from the judge within and learn how to build on any skills you might already possess. Learn how to exhibit a welcoming appearance with positivity, self-confidence, and genuine friendliness towards others.
  • Practice role-playing and skill development with others, particularly in groups. Take the time to be free of irritants and prejudices and just have a skill-building meeting to address and practice these.

There are many free resources out there that you can use as an example to hone these particular skills and enhance your own approach.

The key is to understand where you might excel on an interpersonal level and be honest about where you can most improve at the same time.

The definition of improving is to make or become better. This means that you need to be able to actively identify just where you stand and pinpoint how you can be better.

Even those of us who have built our interpersonal skills. And worked hard to improve them over the years. Will always have something that we can improve upon further.

Our purpose in this article is primarily to address imperative interpersonal skills that you can use to improve your own stance in the industry but also to improve your interpersonal relations and how you can associate with others.

The article is not a fail-safe answer to every interpersonal issue on the market but rather an attempt to educate on the matter and focus on areas that can always be improved in.

Interpersonal skills list

Below is a list of key interpersonal skills by job type.

Nurses and healthcare workers

  • Communication
  • Non verbal and verbal cues
  • Body language
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Active listener
  • Dependability

Teachers

  • Communication
  • Body language
  • Teams and groups
  • Relating to various ages and genres
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Dependability
  • Active listener
  • Knowledge

Administrative assistants

  • Active listener
  • Serving Customers
  • Dependability
  • Multi-tasking
  • Positive attitudes
  • Verbal and non-verbal cues
  • Task orientation and organization

Marketing managers

  • Working in teams or groups
  • Able to provide free feedback without prejudices
  • Knowledge and skill set
  • Relationship building
  • Serving Customers
  • Dependability
  • Actively listen

Customer service professionals

  • Empathy
  • Dependability
  • Actively listening
  • Avid response
  • Customer service
  • Knowledge is free
  • Phone and in person communication

Software engineers

  • Research
  • People skills
  • Dependability
  • Working in teams and groups
  • Relating to others
  • Open communication
  • Dependability

Retail managers

  • Customer orientation
  • Appropriate communication
  • Reliability and dependability
  • Empathy
  • Resourcefulness
  • Availability
  • Free thinking
  • Organization
  • Ability to adapt

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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