How to Become Good at Interpersonal Skills

Listening is one of the most important interpersonal skills.
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If you want to get better at interacting with other people, the most important thing to do is to understand emotions. You need to understand your own emotions so they don't overwhelm you, and you need to understand other people's emotions so you don't unintentionally hurt anyone's feelings. If you treat other people with understanding and kindness, most people will like you.

1 Know Yourself

People can sometimes get angry or sad without really knowing why, because they aren't in touch with their own emotions. If you don't understand what you're feeling, you might find yourself doing things without knowing why you're doing them. For instance, you might suddenly get mad at a friend and hang up the phone without warning. You can't understand other people's feelings if you don't understand your own, so the first step in developing better interpersonal skills is to get to know yourself better. One way to work on this is to make a list of things that make you happy, things that make you angry and things that make you feel good about yourself or bad about yourself. The more you pay attention to what you're feeling, the better you'll get at understanding and controlling your own emotions.

2 Check Yourself

People who are in touch with their own emotions are usually much better at regulating them. How would you feel about a person who was always getting in fights or having unpredictable meltdowns? Most people would have a hard time dealing with this kind of volatile behavior. Researchers for the Knight Foundation reviewed over 360 different studies of adolescent social skills and found that teens who could keep some control over their emotions and their actions were usually well liked and respected by other teens. Controlling your emotions doesn't mean becoming a doormat for other people to walk on. A person without emotional self-control will be aggressive out of fear and insecurity. An emotionally self-controlled person will be calmly assertive and self-confident.

3 Understand Other People

If you can understand your own emotions and keep some control over them, you can learn to spot other people's emotions and figure out why they're acting the way they're acting. This isn't always easy at first, but you can get better at it by imagining that you are the other person and asking yourself how you would feel in that situation. For instance, if a friend hangs up the phone and then says to leave her alone when you try to talk to her, you might feel rejected and angry. If you put yourself in her position, you might guess that something upsetting happened in that phone call and that your friend isn't trying to be mean. This ability to see how other people are feeling is called empathy.

4 Help Other People

When you've developed the ability to guess how other people are feeling and why, it should be much easier to help people out when they need it. This doesn't have to be anything dramatic, just a kind word here and there will make a big difference. Most people like other people who care about how they feel and take the time to show it. You should also feel a lot more confident socially when you can see what's going on and how people are feeling in different situations. As you develop confidence in your social skills, you'll become more outgoing and at ease in all your interactions with other people.

Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.