Four Key Interpersonal Skills for Better Relationships

Four Key Interpersonal Skills for Better Relationships

The nicest people in our lives have interpersonal skills in abundance. They are attributes that make the toughest requests reasonable, the toughest situations bearable and the scary challenges that we face seem exciting. Below we look at four of the most powerful interpersonal skills for high performing teams and better working relationships that endure.

Four Key Interpersonal Skills for Better Relationships
Four Key Interpersonal Skills for Better Relationships
Show Respect

Think about the people you work with and their abilities, qualities and achievements. These things are worthy of admiration. When you respect someone, you convey that sense regardless of their position and experience, or yours. Most importantly perhaps, respect is a foundation from which other interpersonal skills flourish. 


Empathy is understanding your counterpart’s feelings by putting ourselves in their shoes. By demonstrating care and concern for the situations and emotions of others, we are better able to connect with them. Understanding others at more profound level helps, for example what makes them happy, helps us to lead and inspire them.

Besides that, in situations that cause stress or conflict, empathy helps us to be attentive to the emotions of others and acknowledge their feelings.

By really listening, giving them the satisfaction of being heard and showing we understand, we can defuse and de-escalate the toughest situations. 
Non-Verbal Skills

It’s not what you say, but the way that you say it or so the saying goes. Non-verbal cues are the way we say it. They help to layer our communication and provide plenty of additional information. Movement and body language indicate our levels of confidence or decisiveness. Facial expressions convey our feelings.

Gestures help us to deliver our message and emphasize key information. While eyes are the window to the soul and making eye contact holds attention and strengthens the rapport we have with others.

Conversely, crossed arms, a slouched posture and no eye contact can leave us with negative impressions.
Assertive (Not Aggressive)

Assertive behaviour differs from aggressive behaviour as it is collaborative rather than domineering. When we speak assertively, we strike a balance between promoting our own needs without making the person we are speaking to feel like they are wrong. By doing so, we are more able to build trusting relationships in the workplace.

If we become offensive or insult others, it drives others away because such behaviour is aggressive.

Respect, Empathy, Non-verbal Skills and Assertiveness are key interpersonal skills that help us to perform and play nice.

These skills promote trust, and support strong relationships that make the good times better and help us to weather the bad times together.

How to Kick-Start Stalled Negotiations

Even with the best of intentions on both sides, negotiations can stall as we have seen in recent times with the spluttering Brexit negotiations. Sometimes there are sticking points that initially seem impossible to overcome. There are advanced strategies, however, that high performing negotiators can use to problem solve and get around these roadblocks. The following strategies will show you how to Kick-Start Stalled Negotiations.

How to Kick-Start Stalled Negotiations
How to Kick-Start Stalled Negotiations
Know Your Alternatives

It is important that you consider your alternatives before you start because this helps you to negotiate with a cool head and gives you confidence as other courses of action are available if your negotiations with this counterpart fail.

Take a Break

When negotiations stall, the atmosphere can become heated. When this happens, emotions surface and effective decision-making is unlikely. Therefore, it is worth giving each side a break: a change of environment; a change of perspective; and time to think. Members can reflect on the situation, talk amongst themselves, and develop a plan for moving the negotiation forward. This is often enough to break the deadlock.

Consider Additional Options

Negotiations can be categorized as “fixed-sum” or “variable-sum”. Fixed-sum negotiations are single-issue negotiations where the parties’ interests are directly opposed.

If you only have a limited set of options, it is difficult to negotiate because when one side gains something, the other loses, and vice-versa. The most common example is a negotiation over price.

At first sight, many negotiations appear to be fixed-sum in nature. Through careful planning and creative thinking, however, negotiators can open up the scope of negotiations so that they become variable-sum.

For example, they can:
  • add an issue which is not currently under discussion.
  • split a single issue into multiple issues.

The process of identifying more than one negotiation issue is called “unbundling”. By unbundling single-issue negotiations into multi-issue ones, negotiators create further options and therefore opportunities for win-win agreements.

Find Common Ground

Besides that, when negotiations stall, it can help both sides move forward if you focus on shared objectives rather than the differences that have caused the breakdown. Something as simple as re-stating a common goal can be enough to keep eyes on the prize and help overcome your differences.

Give Concessions

Giving concessions is important at any stage of the negotiation process. It becomes most important when you are trying to break out of a deadlock situation because even a token concession can help build goodwill and help get negotiations back on track.

With this in mind, when you are preparing for your negotiation, think about what you might ask for in return so there is mutuality and compromise on both sides. This will involve careful consideration of how you can split the concessions that you are prepared to make into many smaller ones.

If you can’t gain anything in return, don’t assume that the other party will see the full benefit of the concessions you offer. You need to label it by explaining what you have given up or its benefit to the other party.


Resistance and reluctance are an inevitable aspect of negotiations. These strategies will help you to navigate the barriers and deadlocks of negotiation with the creativity and goodwill that will power the relationship beyond the negotiation.