The average American office is a bit of a melting pot, with a fusion of different types of personalities. Even within a single department, there might be a wide spectrum of different personality types—which isn’t a bad thing! In fact, many teams find that each person complements the others well, making the group more effective as a whole.
Of course, this also means that the average office worker must know how to mesh well with a wide range of people. This requires emotional intelligence in spades as well as a set of go-to strategies for resolving challenging situations.
In other words, people skills are absolutely crucial in the workplace—but luckily, just like any other skill set, they can be learned. Here’s a breakdown of five essential skills that can help you better connect with others, giving you the ability to work more effectively with your team.
Conflict resolution skills
Every team sees conflict from time to time, and it’s helpful to know how to diffuse a tricky situation. To polish your conflict resolution skills, focus on coming from a place of respect, rather than trying to control the other party. The best conflict resolution is about compromise, not “one-upping” the other person. This is especially true if the two of you have any negative history together: instead of holding onto old grudges, focus on the present in order to find the best outcome.
These, of course, are absolutely essential! Whether written or spoken, communication skills are the key to persuading, negotiating, pitching ideas, broadcasting your personal brand, and putting your best foot forward. The best way to improve your communication skills is simply to practice them, whether that’s in front of a mirror, a friend, or an audience.
Active listening skills
This goes hand in hand with communication skills. It’s impossible to maintain a productive relationship without showing that you’re paying attention to the thoughts of others on your team. To work on your listening skills, pay attention to non-verbal communication: how people say things is just as important as what they say. Next, take the time to ensure you understand what the other person is saying by rephrasing their words as necessary, or by asking questions that show genuine interest in the topic at hand.
Social assertiveness is all about standing up for yourself in a positive, confident way. The goal is to preserve your own boundaries without being confrontational or aggressive. One of the most effective tips to help boost your social assertiveness is to say “no” when you need to, especially when it helps you balance your existing tasks or boundaries. Paired with good communication skills, assertiveness can help you boost your self-esteem, while earning others’ respect.
Sense of humor
In an office, you’re there to work—but part of the workplace culture is typically about play as well! It’s important to be able to manage situations with a little levity (non-offensively of course) when it’s appropriate, especially if you’re on a team that really knows how to laugh. If you struggle with this, getting to know your coworkers better can help you feel more comfortable with a lighthearted approach to complex situations. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself: in the right office, your coworkers are probably just laughing with you.
If you feel like you’re lacking in any of these areas, don’t feel too overwhelmed. Just like any skill, your people skills will only improve with practice. The more you’re exposed to the different personality types on your team, the better you’ll become at working closely with them.