people skills

The biggest hiring trends of 2019 that will carry into 2020 focus on company culture fit, empathy in the workplace, and interpersonal skills. Now that you know what companies want, what do they all mean? And how do you show employers you’ve got what they’re looking for?

Company Culture

Company culture describes the workplace environment. There are four main company culture types that include a company’s values, ethics, expectations, and goals.

1. A Hierarchy Culture follows proven and accepted rules and guidelines. Management structure and responsibilities are clearly defined.

2. A Market Culture is results-oriented and often highly competitive. The goal is to capture market share.

3. The Clan Culture is friendly and collaborative. There is strong loyalty and common purpose.

4. An Adhocracy Culture is flexible and innovative. Leaders and employees are willing to take risks.

Each of these cultures work in certain markets and with a certain type of employee. A good company culture fit means an employee will be more likely to enjoy their work experience, stay longer, build better relationships, and be more productive.


Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy in the workplace means creating a safe and collaborative environment and is also part of your interpersonal skills. The competitive nature of business can often blind employers and employees from this need.

Successful business is not only about performance and fulfilling your job description. Your interpersonal skills are what you use to gain trust and show your reliability. It’s no longer just a matter of whether your co-workers can count on you to perform. Can they turn to you??


Raising the level of empathy in the workplace requires limiting assumptions, asking more questions, getting closer to your co-workers, and making your needs clear.

Increasing workplace empathy requires limiting assumptions, asking more questions, getting closer to your co-workers, and making your needs clear. Empathy might not be a trait that ambitious businesspeople want to be attached to their name. Ultimately, treating each other with empathy will bring about a feeling of belonging and being connected. Studies have shown that productivity greatly increases in these environments. 

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What Are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills fall into the category of soft skills. Unlike hard skills, which are often obtained through education and training, interpersonal skills are often learned as we go through life and practice social skills. It has long been thought that you either have good interpersonal skills—or emotional intelligence—or you don’t. In many instances you could still get by without interpersonal skills. But the world, and especially the high stakes business world, require interpersonal skills from anyone who wants to put themselves in a position to succeed.

Interpersonal skills cover everything from how well you handle constructive criticism to being able to diffuse difficult situations. They are also important to list in your resume skills section and to demonstrate during a job interview. More and more, hiring managers are assessing job applicants on their key interpersonal skills, not just hard skills.

Improving Interpersonal Skills

Self-confidence, a positive attitude, good work ethic, and workplace etiquette are all qualities that improve interpersonal skills. Throw in relationship management, collaboration, active listening, receptiveness to feedback, and showing appreciation, and the personal responsibilities of any new hire can feel overwhelming.


They Are All Connected

You can see how each of these hiring trends compliments the others. Company culture is defined by level of empathy which can only be effectively expressed through proper use of interpersonal skills and interacting with other people. The key action step for any employee is to show that you have definitive people skills. You need to show that you not only possess, but you know how you use these interpersonal skills.


Interpersonal Skills on Display

We all possess people skills in varying amounts. The interpersonal skills you might believe are missing are simply underdeveloped. Here are some action steps to help develop interpersonal skills employers are looking for in 2020 and beyond.



You can project self-confidence by showing your willingness to be in the moment. This can be difficult as there is a lot going on and a lot at stake in most business communication scenarios. The challenges of meetings, presentations, networking events, and client interactions are all opportunities to build your self-confidence and interpersonal skills. Good gesturing techniques will always reinforce your level of commitment.


Positive Attitude

Don’t worry about always saying the right thing and don’t allow that worry to show up in your facial expressions. Treat each interaction as if you’re eager to find your own personal connection. Remember that you may not always be right but you should never be in doubt when giving your perspective.


Work Ethic

The fastest way to improve your work ethic is to practice good time management. Plan on arriving a few minutes early to all scheduled events. Be prepared to explain all updates of your work using a clear framework. Start with a personal characterization and follow with no more (or less) than three supportive reasons. Close the loop by returning to your characterization, or what I call a bumper sticker.


Workplace Etiquette

Workplace etiquette is an important component of interpersonal skills that boils down to one thing: respect. And not only respect for your co-workers but your own self-respect and self-care. Recognize when you are being taken advantage of and in return, take advantage of no one else. Be consistent, clear, and timely in your verbal and written responses when interacting with other people. 


Relationship Management

Treating co-workers will respect is one thing but wielding conflict resolution is the true test of relationship management. Always state your point of view in the first person, “I have noticed…” or “It has come to my attention…” When you receive a difficult request, try initially responding with, “To be honest…” or “You’re asking me to do something I can’t do.” Good interpersonal skills require knowing how to resolve conflicts. 



To be a good collaborator you have to be able to communicate with different personality types and be clear with your verbal and nonverbal communication yourself. Take the time to define your true strengths and weaknesses. Trying to “do it all” can be seen as not respecting teammates contributions.



Using your body language in a positive manner shows others than you are actively listening. You want to project that you are present. Sit slightly forward and comfortably. Improve your listening skills by following the 80 / 50 rule of eye contact. Make direct eye contact 80% of the time when listening but only about 50% of the time when speaking. Taking notes also signals that you are paying attention.


Receptiveness to Feedback

An unfair review can feel like it comes out of nowhere. Realize that many managers see the end-of-the-year review as an opportunity to formally say the things they have difficulty saying to you directly. Let your managers and co-workers know that you are open to feedback throughout the year and that you see it as a form of collaboration rather than judgment. 


Showing Appreciation

Keep in mind that showing appreciation does not mean ignoring the challenges of your workplace. Consider what you and your co-workers can count on each other to do consistently. For some it is the simple giving and receiving of a friendly greeting. For others it is knowing that you’re in the fight together. Body language is often the key to delivering the right message of appreciation.


Practice All Of These to Develop Interpersonal Skills

By developing each of these important interpersonal skills you will be projecting a more authentic persona and helping to create a thriving culture of teamwork. It can be challenging to maintain a people skills approach but the fallout from ignoring it is even more severe.


Interpersonal Skills Group Training

You may have experienced how teams suffer when they lack the people skills necessary for true collaboration. It’s essential to get everyone on the same page at the same time to create team players and build their interpersonal skills. Group Training is an excellent way to foster teamwork and collaboration. In a cooperative group setting, each team member can observe and experience the impact of what they say and how they say it.

A comprehensive interpersonal skills group training covers skills assessment, skills development, training games, a resource library, and sales training. It is a surefire way to improve employee engagement, reduce conflict, and accelerate team productivity. If your employer offers this sort of interpersonal skills training, take it. If they don’t offer it, find it.


Developing Interpersonal Skills Takes Time 

It’s not enough to just read about developing your skills. You and your team have to experience interpersonal skills training for yourselves to improve verbal communication and leadership skills. When you know what people skills to look for and how to leverage them, you begin to make people skills an everyday habit.. When you know what people skills to look for and how to leverage them, you begin to make interpersonal skills an everyday habit.