Interpersonal Skills

Private Speech Pathologists Association of WA

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills are basically the skills needed to get along with others (E.g. family, friends, work colleagues, acquaintances). These skills go far beyond just “social niceties” such as being polite and civil.
Interpersonal communication skills include the ability to greet, join in an activity, begin and continue a conversation, resolve conflict effectively (negotiate, compromise, etc.), read social cues, be collaborative and work cooperatively with others. These require an awareness of many nonverbal factors such as eye contact, facial expression, gesture and personal space. Other factors include understanding of humour, language styles for different situations, awareness of tact and how to be subtle.

What are the Effects of Difficulty with Interpersonal Skills?

Children with social skills difficulties often have problems making friends and may be the victims of teasing or bullying. They may be too dominating or too passive when trying to resolve conflict or when working with others in group projects. In conversation they may introduce irrelevant or inappropriate topics. Some children may interrupt at unsuitable times or may misunderstand other people’s facial expressions, therefore making inappropriate comments. They may misunderstand the humour of others or use humour incorrectly in some situations.
Adults seeking assistance with interpersonal skills may have similar difficulties reading social cues and effectively initiating and maintaining conversations. They may wish to improve their conversational, networking or negotiating skills for work or social purposes.
Some adults and children with interpersonal skills difficulties have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, although many have no specific diagnosis.