Interpersonal skills

 Most corporate battles are won not in the market place but in the board rooms. The success in the markets follows only an intuitive, intelligent and well thought out strategy that is developed, formed and approved in the board room. The unanimity of views between people (colleagues) is essential to the success of any initiative; leading up to the success of the organisation.

To achieve harmony and consensus between diverse people requires a number of personality traits that must be based on the underlying feature of “give and take”. Failure to bend, or shun rigidity, will only usher incongruity in efforts. The perception that those who are seen to mix around easily, those who are viewed as sociable persons or are considered lively, are the only ones, who have and know the true value of inter-personal skills is erroneous. While undoubtedly, interacting with a large segment of people helps, but it isn’t the only determining criteria to be in possession of sound skills of engagement with people.

Perhaps it is an extremely incorrect generalisation amongst most professionals that to be possessed of inter-personal skills, one necessarily has to be an extrovert. Nay, most untrue! I have personally interacted with die-hard introverts, who possessed great interpersonal skills. Most of them were calm and stable personalities, with no signs of boisterousness to their working style, demeanour and behaviour.

Why are interpersonal skills important? Can a manager devoid of this skill set be a product manager? Let’s first examine by evaluating the need and importance of such skills. As a beginning, what is inter-personal skill? Is it about being malleable to the extent that one has the propensity to go along with anybody or any view, without reason, rationale or rhyme or is it about being able to stand up to a decision, favourably or against it without causing pain and acrimony between team members? If it is adjudged by an organisation, by ready acceptance or default, that those workers who show no dissent are individuals with a great sense of intelligent inter-personal skills, they are actually collecting for their corporate museums, boneless wonders! Colleagues without spine are not to be equated with those who are respected for having abilities to garner and navigate an option between colleagues with ease and comfort, to all. That’s inter-personal skills.

Those whose thinking and attitude is crooked cannot be but shunned of abilities to interact with other colleagues with positivity. It is a sine qua non, to have first and foremost a pleasing disposition, for quality interpersonal skills. Those that are indulgent only towards finding faults in others, or those who lace their conversations with taunts and sarcasm, can never bring to the table, abilities to find common ground between competing factors and people. Those individuals who exhibit tendencies of being a ‘bull in a China Shop’ can never be good managers, at least on the premise of possessing and maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

What is critical is the natural instinct towards seeking connect-ability with all colleagues; for this leads to better communication within the organisation and ultimately leads to better productivity and results.

Interpersonal skills are about aligning with colleagues on an emotional plane; the predominance of EQ over IQ is a recipe for garnering better interpersonal relationships. The Bible says, “None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself”. Speech has to be better than silence, and if it can’t be, choose the later. Senseless speak damages interpersonal relationships the most. We must remain interconnected to our environment. Integration creates better understanding. Bernard Shaw said, “We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” Interpersonal skills take a rapid flight upwards only when there is an appreciation of the need towards inter-dependence. While recognition of the need of others is important for building great teams; it will be suicidal to wrongly pledge oneself to the will of others. Even the “Material Girl -Madona” said something profound as, “poor is the man whose pleasure depends upon permission of others”. Interdependence can certainly lead towards better cohesiveness within a team, however; the dependence must not bring about slavery of opinion to others. The skill that recognises inter-dependence as an essential trait to possess is all about understanding that, “a relationship is placing one’s heart and soul in the hands of another while taking charge of another’s in one’s soul and heart”.

In a symphony, each constituent is equally important and hence if the conductor does not enjoy goodwill with each instrument player, then the evening of music is doomed to fail. Lack of interpersonal skill is a reflection of poor education and social standards, resultantly the music of utter discord will be on display.

If a manager possesses the only skill of finding faults, then colleagues should brace themselves to be subjected to similar treatment by their supervisors. It is but a natural instinct. Some managers specialise in passing down the ranks all rebuke they receive at the hands of their bosses; while they are skilfully adept at stopping and parking all words of praise and appreciation at their desk!

If colleagues possess the innate skill to be good to another, there is no way that others will be bad to you. Most people respond to with positive overtures. This skill-set to get others to do what and how to get from lion’s paws is certainly an outstanding trait. Getting others to do what they wish to do is an assurance that you will get what you want for yourself.

No worker can pretend, in any organisation to be Robinson Crusoe, living in an island of his own. Every constituent of an entity has to be intertwined with the organisation’s hierarchy. No individual, no matter how brilliant or efficient, he/she is can remain outside the framework of the team. Each needs all: and all need, others. For a meaningful integration into the team, all its members must have basic knowledge of the significance of interdependence upon each other. An island of individual excellence or higher productivity, over a short period of time, sinks under the waves of cohesive productivity emerging out of teamwork.

If the neighbour's wall is ablaze how can you be safe: there has to be recognition we live and work in an inter-dependent world, where the interplay of personal skills to navigate through cross currents of culture and business conditions, acquires great significance.

Personal skill demands a great amount of caution to be exercised when in verbal or written communication. In the uncontrollable urge to talk, a lot of truth is actually lost. It is easy to utter what is cloaked in silence but most difficult to recall that which is uttered. Anyone with a loose tongue can hardly master good interpersonal skills.

An organisation is akin to a beehive, all colleagues live in it, but in different cells, although all use the same entrance and which by nature's design, is the only one. Hence the need to accommodate each other for peaceful coexistence through quality personal skills is a prerequisite.

Once a manager has secured the good of his colleagues, he already has secured his own. This is possible only when he considers others like himself. And this is the pinnacle of possession of great interpersonal skills. Take a step back, and allow colleagues to take a step forward. This is the easiest path to success.

The writer is a banker and freelance contributor

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