Four core competencies – #3 Interpersonal Skills

Competencies Candidates Should Have – Interpersonal Skills.

A blog series from Mitchell Langbert

We recently came across a series of blogs by Mitchell Langbert that very clearly highlights 4 core competencies that college graduates should have to ensure a more successful job search. We feel that while of course these skills are a requirement for graduates, they also extend to anyone looking to expand their horizons and careers.

We liked these articles so much we had to share them.

The four skills that are covered are:

Four skills that when mastered ensure career growth and progression. These are skills that critical in getting yourself noticed and getting to the front of the queue.

In this article, we cover Interpersonal Skills

This is the third in a series written by Mitchell Langbert and here we have summarised some of his key points.

Interpersonal skills are among the competencies that are most critical to early and continued career success.  Mitchell Langbert points out that research has shown that employees who are insensitive, abrasive, intimidating, cold, aloof, arrogant, or untrustworthy frequently find that their careers have been derailed or stalled.

Learning how to deal with people is essential to getting ahead and moving up in any organisation.

Empathic Listening

The following list details some simple and sound advice:

  • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain
  • Give honest appreciation
  • Be honestly interested in others
  • Remember peoples names. Smile. Be a good listener

Gaining someone’s trust and  having them like you depends collectively on your communication skills as well as your dependability, hard work, and efficiency. Put yourself in the shoes of the person at the other end of the phone, email or messaging conversation and show that you are interested and care. Studies show that empathic listening is effective with integrative negotiation where the objective is to expand not divide.

Empathic listening and integrative negotiation are effective much of the time.  They are valuable processes that are used to to build and maintain long-term relationships that are essential in building a lasting career.  As we use them to build trust, respect, and understanding, the more opportunities present themselves.

Contingency Theory of Interpersonal Tactics

Not all relationships in business are long-term, though.  We frequently need to interact with customers, suppliers, consultants, or associates many of whom we never meet personally and have to deal with via verbal or electronic communication only. While we may work with colleagues with whom empathy may be a challenge, it is important to maintain empathy or work on a managed communication where we provide appropriate responses that many not be our natural feelings.

The key to the contingency approach is deciding when to be empathic and when to adopt a calculated response.

Managed Approaches

In developing a managed approach to communication, it is import not to cross the line that threatens a persons self concept, making them defensive or insignificant. To prevent this supportive communication tactics should be used.

The supportive communication tactics include:

  • being honest
  • not being judgemental
  • keeping to the facts
  • treating others with respect
  • respecting their opinions and responding accordingly

When a conflict occurs, the discussion should focus on the issue and facts presented rather than the person. We should own the responsibility of how we communicate ensuring that we remain supportive.

Use supportive listening. These are described as four listening responses:

  • advising
  • deflecting
  • probing
  • reflecting

Supportive communication means encouraging the other party.

In advising the listener responds by giving advice. In deflecting the listener responds by changing the subject and  focusing on their own experiences: “If you think what your boss did is bad, take a look at what my boss did.” In probing the listener asks questions. In reflecting the listener responds by acknowledging that he or she is listening. Reflective responses include summarizing and restating what the other person is saying. It involves giving back the message in different words.

The reflecting and probing responses are the most supportive and least likely to cause defensiveness or disconfirmation.  The advising and deflecting responses are the most intrusive and most likely to do so.


The ultimate key to developing interpersonal skills is practice.  Empathy is important to developing long-term relationships, but responses can be dependent on factors like personality, ethics, culture, and the organisational structure  Successful people develop alternative tactics that are appropriate to different settings, personalities, tasks, and organisations and have learnt how to choose the most appropriate ones.

To read the original article, click here

Hints & Tips, Personal Development