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7 tips to build strong interpersonal relationships

strong interpersonal relationshipsContinuing education throughout your career isn’t just about textbooks and exams; it’s also about the people you meet and connect with. Whether you’re the life-of-the-party type, a bit reserved, or somewhere in between, these tips are your handy guide to building meaningful connections.

Skills for building strong interpersonal relationships

Let’s dig into the skills you’ll want to get comfortable with to build these relationships. We’re talking about communication, emotional smarts, empathy, and being adaptable. Nailing these skills isn’t just about making life more awesome; they’ll also have your back when you dive into the working world and throughout your career.

1. Effective communication

Good communication is super important for good relationships. It’s not just about talking clearly, but also about really listening when someone else talks. To get better at communicating, try these things

  • Listen carefully when others talk.
  • Ask questions if you’re not sure about something.
  • Make sure you don’t interrupt when someone is speaking.
  • Use your body language, like looking at them and having an open body posture.
  • Nod your head to show you’re interested.

Imagine you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a close friend who’s been feeling stressed. Instead of offering immediate solutions or talking about your own day, you practice good communication.

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You listen carefully, ask clarifying questions, and don’t interrupt. Your body language is open, with eye contact and nods to show you’re engaged. By using these communication skills, you create a space where your friend feels heard and supported, strengthening your friendship through understanding and trust.

2. Empathy

Empathy is when you really understand how someone else is feeling.

To be more empathetic, try to see things from their side and understand why they feel the way they do. When they’re having a tough time, be there to help and be happy for them when they do well.

It’s also important not to judge or assume things about their feelings. Just accept and understand them for who they are.

Imagine you work in a customer support team that recently adopted AI call centre software. Jane, a seasoned colleague, is excited about this change and looks forward to getting familiar with the new solution. However, she is also not the most tech-savvy person out there, which makes her feel a bit insecure. Recognising her apprehension, you empathise with Jane, understanding her concerns.

During a team meeting, when Jane expresses worries about her own ability to make the most of this new, cutting-edge solution, you attentively listen, acknowledge her feelings, and reassure her that, with the right training and support, she will become proficient at this in no time.

As time goes on, you’re there for Jane, answering her questions and celebrating her wins. Your empathy doesn’t just calm her nerves; it also tightens the bonds in your team, building trust along the way.

3. Conflict resolution

Conflicts are a normal part of any relationship: the key is handling them well. To do this, you should stay calm and not get too upset when you have an argument. Focus on solving the problem together by coming up with ideas and solutions that work for both of you. Sometimes, you might need to make some compromises and give up a little to make both people happy.

You can do this by:

  • Actively listening
  • Resisting the urge to jump in to a conversation
  • Genuinely trying to understand where other people are coming from
  • Asking clarifying questions
  • Make sure your body language is open and you maintain eye contact

Two people engaging in study discussion

4. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, often called EQ, is a really helpful skill.

First off, you’ve got to get a handle on your own emotions. That’s understanding how your feelings can steer what you do and decide. And then, there’s the art of not jumping the gun, keeping your impulse reactions in check.

This helps you respond thoughtfully instead of reacting without thinking.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on how others are feeling and what they might need. It’s like a window into their world and helps you get where they’re coming from and be more considerate.

Imagine you’ve taken a job at a company, and you’ve been tasked with introducing workforce management WFM software to the team. Your job isn’t just about making sure business goals are met; it’s also about keeping a close eye on your team’s well-being during this transition.

Some team members might resist the transition, and your instinct is to react defensively, but thanks to working on your EQ, you’ve got the knack for keeping your cool. You think before reacting and make sure things run smoothly.

5. Respect and boundaries

For good relationships, you must respect each other and set rules. This means understanding and being considerate of each other in a few ways.

First, you should respect what others think and the boundaries they set, even if you don’t agree with them. It’s also important to talk to each other and say clearly what you’re okay with and what you’re not. This way, everyone knows what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Imagine you and a friend are working on a business idea, and you’re at the point of discussing who is going to handle the different aspects of the project, but you’re disagreeing on the direction to take. You want to ensure a positive working relationship while addressing potential conflicts. So, you establish some boundaries.

First, you both respect each other’s ideas and decisions related to the project, even if you have different viewpoints. This means actively listening and valuing each other’s input.

Secondly, you engage in open and clear communication. You discuss and clearly communicate your preferences and expectations regarding the business plan, project scope, and division of tasks. Maybe you agree that one of your takes points on marketing and design decisions, while the gets to dictate the software aspects.

6. Trust

Trust is the strong base of any good relationship, but building and keeping trust takes time and work.

To make trust grow in a relationship, you should always be honest and open in what you say and do. Basically, if you promise to do something, make sure you do it every time. This shows that you’re dependable and serious about the relationship.

If you ever break that trust, it’s important to say sorry and try to make things right. You also need to promise not to do the same thing again. Following these rules helps to build trust, and that makes your relationship better and longer-lasting.

Imagine you’re working on a group project with classmates, sharing project files where privacy and security are paramount.

Now, let’s say you accidentally leak project files with sensitive information, giving other groups an edge. Hey, we’re all human, and slip-ups occur, right? But here’s the deal: how you handle this situation can either strengthen or weaken the trust you’ve been building.

You could try to deny responsibility or blame others for your error. However, you decide to take responsibility like a champ. You step up, offer a sincere apology, and outline steps to be extra careful with such information in the future. By staying open and accountable, you rebuild trust in your relationships.

7. Adaptability

Being adaptable is super important for building strong connections with others. People and situations change, and you should be ready to change with them.

Now, picture this: You’re working for a company that decides to revamp everything to boost its contact centre’s operational efficiency. It’s a whole restructuring affair, and suddenly, you’re in a new team you’ve never crossed paths with before.

This is where your adaptability shines, as you’re open to different working styles and ideas. You’re not stuck in your ways; you’re open to new possibilities and ready to learn.

In this new team, you’re not just adapting to new processes; you’re also adapting to the personalities and dynamics. You take the time to understand your new colleagues, their strengths, and their quirks. You’re not clinging to your old habits; you’re embracing the chance to grow as a team and form strong connections.

And it pays off big time. You thrive in this new setup and become the team’s go-to problem solver and connector.

First published: Torrens University Australia

Tags: communication, conflict resolution, empathy, interpersonal relationships

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