What Are Types of Interpersonal Skills?

Ascent Xmedia/Stone/Getty Images

Common examples of interpersonal skills include the abilities to communicate, listen, make decisions, make critical observations, solve problems, negotiate, collaborate and show assertiveness. Interpersonal skills, sometimes known as soft skills, demonstrate an individual’s ability to interact productively with others, especially in professional settings. Unlike measurable, industry-specific “hard skills,” such as math or typing, interpersonal skills are generally adaptable to any career or interactive work environment.

Whether working in a leadership or team role, individuals need communication skills to express ideas clearly to co-workers. Verbal communication includes listening attentively to others, asking questions when information isn’t clear and adopting a professional tone during conversations. Non-verbal communication often involves fostering an approachable demeanor and showing a positive attitude.

Making observations and decisions, solving problems and showing assertiveness are necessary skills that demonstrate the ability to evaluate what a company or client needs and to achieve those goals. Avoiding conflicts or failing to consider a variety of options can prevent an individual from finding solutions that reflect a company’s best interests. Lack of conflict-resolution skills may also create division among employees, hindering teamwork.

Being able to negotiate and collaborate with others can help an individual make a valuable contribution to a team. Major aspects of collaborating include knowing when to step up as a leader and when to take direction from co-workers. Individuals can benefit from learning to accept constructive criticism, but should also be prepared to help or motivate teammates to meet important deadlines.