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Understanding and Improving Interpersonal Effectiveness

What Is Interpersonal Effectiveness?

Interpersonal effectiveness is hugely important in professional and personal lives. But what exactly is meant by the term “interpersonal effectiveness”? It is one of those buzzwords that you will hear frequently at job interviews and we often feel compelled to say that our interpersonal effectiveness is really high, even if we don’t necessarily know what it means. The definition of Interpersonal Effectiveness is:

“Interpersonal effectiveness is a skill that helps you ask for what you want in a situation, keep good relationships, and maintain self-respect. However, this is also a skill which may or may not come naturally to us and, therefore, might have to be taught or learned. The status of our relationships is directly linked to our emotions and our mood, so maintaining healthy relationships is essential to being emotionally healthy overall.”
Quoted from Southeast Psyche by Becky Thomson

Stress Reduction

Having greater levels of interpersonal effectiveness also means that you will reduce your stress. This demonstrates how important it is to be able to know yourself as well as possible, which is what it is all about. It is about having three main goals, which are knowing how to get what you want, working at keeping relationships positive, and always putting your own self-respect at the forefront of what you do. Essentially, it is about devising Coping Plans for situations that would otherwise cause you stress.

“The idea of deciding on and practicing an alternative coping plan isn’t that you apply it rigidly. Having/practicing a plan just means you have something available to you that you can apply if you think it’s a good fit for the situation.”
Dr. Alice Boyes

For instance, if you have many friends who all want to see you, this could end up meaning you are never home again. A coping plan could be to organize going to a large venue that is in easy reach of the majority of your friends. Then, you can decline their invitation and give them your own alternative. Essentially, it is about finding a way to get the best of both worlds and keeping everybody happy.

Getting it Right

Increasing your interpersonal relationships sounds very easy to do, but you will require a couple of clear skills. This includes having a full understanding of what it is you are trying to achieve. According to Get Self Help:

“In order to increase our effectiveness in dealing with other people, we need to clarify what we want from the interaction – be as specific about that as you can and identify what we need to do in order to get the results we want.”
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Self-Help Resources

For this, they have devised simple acronyms to help you achieve your goals. DEARMAN (describe, express, assert, reward, mindfulness, appearance and negotiation) will help you achieve your objective. For the relationships, you need GIVE (gentle, interest, validate, easy) and for self-respect, you need FAST (fair, no apologies, stick to values, truthfulness).

Useful Hints and Tips

There are numerous ways to apply interpersonal effectiveness in your day to day life, both at work and at home. You can use these skills whenever you have to ask for something or make a request, when you have to start discussions, when you want to say no, when you need to resist pressure and/or when you want to be able to stick to your own point of view.

“One crucial element of good interpersonal skills is being sensitive to, appreciating, and honoring differences of others. Part of this skill lies in being aware of the various ways individuals can differ in how they perceive themselves and their roles and how they view the world, process information, resolve conflict, solve problems and make decisions.”
Twenty Secrets of Interpersonal Effectiveness 

To this extent, there are 14 behaviors you should always exhibit, as well as 6 that you should avoid. What you should do is smile and have a friendly attitude, make sure you make others feel important, share the credit where it is due, show an interest in and openness to others, remember other people’s names, remember specific facts about the personal lives of others and ask them about this, always do the right thing (even when it is highly inconvenient), always be honest, even if it means letting someone down, receive and give feedback respectfully, listen to others, allow others to save face if they need to, admit it when you have made a mistake, encourage others whenever possible and, finally, be there for others. The six things you must avoid at all costs are negativity, gratuitous advice (sometimes people simply want you to listen), foul language, abrasiveness, making jokes at the expense of others and, finally, overreacting to any kind of bad news or stress. Make these mistakes, and you will never be able to build a relationship of trust with others.

Successful people understand themselves and how their behavior affects others.  The DiSC Profile is self-administered, self-interpreted instruments that help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and how to deal more effectively with others.  DiSC Profiles are simple, yet powerful tools that are easy to understand and are available to anyone who has the desire to learn more about themselves and other people.

We all have goals, and to reach those goals, we must interact with other people. When people become involved in a relationship, it becomes important to coordinate behavior to build the relationship so that each person can achieve their goals. This happens to individuals in every aspect of their lives in personal and business settings.  The first step in developing better relationships involves developing self-awareness. Each of us has a set of strengths that make us unique and valuable, and we like to be acknowledged for our strengths, as well as feel effective in our environment.   People who understand their strengths and limitations are able to adapt to the needs of others and the needs of their environment in ways that lead to maximum effectiveness.

Interpersonal Effectiveness and Mindfulness

Mindfulness, a type of meditation that can be applied to every action you undertake, is an integral part of interpersonal effectiveness. As the name suggests, through mindfulness, you become mindful of everything that you do, how it affects others and how it affects yourself. In applying this to interpersonal effectiveness, you will have far greater success in it as well.

“Mindfulness acts as the foundation for interpersonal effectiveness because it allows you to step back from the emotionally laden content of the experience and notice all that is occurring. When you are observing your interpersonal interactions with mindfulness, the focus is on observing, describing, and participating in what is happening. It is only once you are able to truly interact with reality in this way that you can take effective action on its contents.”
Mindfulness Muse by Laura Schenck, M.A.

Mindfulness has been around in Asia for generations and is one of the reasons why people from those cultures have as much respect for each other and for nature and why they are so calm even in stressful situations. If we can learn something from them, then surely that is a good thing.

About 

Co-owner/Co-founder of Intesi! Resources. Educated as an architect I transitioned to technology during my career in architecture. Intesi! Resources was founded in 2002 and my focus is everything Web/eCommerce related from the design and development of our site to all the marketing activities involved. I also provide significant support for our clients on all our products and how they are used to deliver assessment-driven learning solutions that develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

This entry was posted in Communication, Interpersonal Effectiveness and tagged on by .

About Steve Giles

Co-owner/Co-founder of Intesi! Resources. Educated as an architect I transitioned to technology during my career in architecture. Intesi! Resources was founded in 2002 and my focus is everything Web/eCommerce related from the design and development of our site to all the marketing activities involved. I also provide significant support for our clients on all our products and how they are used to deliver assessment-driven learning solutions that develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

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