A New Soft Skill: Interpersonal Effectiveness
The way we interact with others could be a reason for conflict and stress. If this is not recognized appropriately, it can lead to escalating problematic behavior. Too many people spend a lot of their time suppressing who they really are, what their values and goals are. They live with feelings of guilt and anger and spend much of their time being incredibly frustrated. Much of this is directly linked to the way we speak to those around us, be that in the workplace, at home, in educational establishments, with friends, and with strangers.
It is incredibly important that we are all capable of saying no, thereby increasing our own self-respect and being able to deal with a variety of different situations in our day to day life. This is achieved by improving our personal communication and interpersonal effectiveness.
“Interpersonal effectiveness often involves getting others to do things for you, which may seem rude or bossy. But learning to assert your self can be a key practice in attaining sobriety or changing other unhealthy behaviors. You can change your thinking, communicate more effectively, stay true to your values, and learn to recognize your competence.” Interpersonal Effectiveness
Four Key Components
Experts agree that there are four key components when it comes to interpersonal effectiveness. The first is the ability to listen. Listening is about absorbing what is actually being said, hearing the message that the other is trying to convey without passing judgement before you have heard it all. The second key component is being able to share your opinion. This is about talking in a non-aggressive manner and with confidence.
If your opinion differs from the norm, this can be a particularly difficult point. The third element is being able to ask questions. This is necessary to show you are listening and to be able to motivate your own opinion as well. The fourth and final component is being able to point out what challenges could be encountered. The important thing here is that you learn to do this without being negative or overly critical. If you are able to get this right, you will have mastered the skill of personal communication and interpersonal effectiveness.
When Do You Need It?
These types of skills (which are classed as soft skills) would be necessary in any situation that became an argument, whether you walked away from it or not. If you ever enter into a real argument with someone, or if you ever come away from a discussion feeling hurt because you were not heard, you could have used interpersonal effectiveness. The key to this is that, with hindsight, you need to understand that both parties were equally wrong and right.
“When you accept that in most disagreements, both people are partly right and a partly wrong, it eliminates the need for either of you to be punished.” The Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Interpersonal Effectiveness
The key is that if you really listened to what the other person was saying to you, you will better understand where that person is coming from. On the other hand, the other person must allow you the same respect and courtesy. Communication is a two-way street, after all, but it often feels as if you are walking it alone. Psychologists believe, however, that if just one person follows the components of good interpersonal communication, the other person will immediately follow suit. Hence, you don’t have to wait for the world to change around you, you can actually be the catalyst for change yourself.
An example is the following:
“You’re a lawyer and people often ask you for legal advice in social situations. When this happens you feel uncomfortable. You often give advice to avoid awkwardness even though you don’t see it as appropriate.”
How To Increase Your Interpersonal Effectiveness and Decrease Your Stress
This is a very typical example that many people will come across due to their profession. Using personal communication in this particular situation can be done in a number of different ways. For instance, you could carry business cards with you that include not just your own details (thereby advertising yourself) but also the details of a free legal advice service. You can explain to people that you want them to have the best advice possible and that you do not feel you can give that to them in this situation.
In doing so, you are saying “no,” but not in a way where others could take offense. You are not compromising your own integrity either, as you are not giving them advice, which you didn’t want to give. You are setting clear boundaries, which means the person who spoke to you, who is likely to be a friend or acquaintance, doesn’t feel that he or she was rejected. Hence, the relationship is kept positive as well.
Why You Need It
So why is this so important? There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is that you feel like you are able to achieve your goals in such a way that it is not detrimental to others. This means you will feel more positive about yourself as well, which is always a good feeling. Secondly, you can actually improve existing relationships, because they become based on truth and honesty.
Finally, your self-respect will improve, because you are being more honest and truthful in your dealings with others. With the law of attraction, positive attracts positives, which means that the better you feel about yourself, the more good things will come to you as well. The key is, of course, to not become arrogant or self-centered in your feelings about yourself. After all, people need to continue to get positive vibes from you as well, for interpersonal effectiveness to continue.