Article (October-2017)


Learning the art of interpersonal skills

Sunaina Mattoo Khanna

Designation : -   Chief People Officer & Head- Transformation

Organization : -  Bajaj Capital Ltd., New Delhi


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Be it personal life or professional life, what brings success is ''Peace of Mind'' and a ''Positive outlook'' towards life which doesn't come from money, power or status but cordial relationships around you. I have always believed in nurturing & investing in relationships if I had to be successful in Life. Nothing gives more satisfaction when people with whom you have worked or are working acknowledge the value add you have done in their lives.

When it comes to dealing with people at workplace and my role as Chief People Officer, I need to be managing one thing effectively and that is interpersonal relationships, not only with people who I deal with but ensure all employees across organizations learn the art of interpersonal skills. People who are good at it are the ones who can develop successful teams or who can be the best team players themselves.

Interpersonal skills needed to deal with seniors
At work place, dealing with your seniors doesn't require different skills than dealing with your juniors barring that when you are interacting with seniors, certain protocols and decorum needs to be followed. However, it is your compatibility, communication, honesty, ethics and time that you invest in building and nurturing relationships that will decide on how healthy your interpersonal relationships are with your seniors.

One must never doubt the intentions of the senior colleague as whatever decision he is taking will be in the best interest of the company and his people. But that doesn't stop you asking for the logics of his decision making which might have some impact on you. You must not be argumentative but you must ask questions with the intent of learning from his experiences and how you can support his decision making or if you can contribute some better alternatives.

As my personal experience, I have never shy away from asking questions to my boss if any of his decisions would have some great impact on mine. I would not only highlight problems but also come up with solutions, as a result my boss would think twice before making a final decision. We have agreed to disagree on certain issues and we always felt that if we agree on everything, then one of us is not required. I feel, you need to have people to challenge your decision making or make suggestions the way you work. Secondly, your seniors also need motivation to keep going and you must always encourage and praise their achievements. Proactively seek their feedback and advice for your performance and the way you are managing tasks. Thus it will make them more responsible towards your development. Stand by your seniors when needed, it is you who can create a healthy atmosphere at the workplace.

Interpersonal skills needed to deal with juniors
You are the boss, doesn't mean you can take your team for granted and impose your liking or disliking on the team. Today's generation need mentors and not bosses. Leave your ego behind the moment you enter the workplace. Appreciate if someone has performed exceptionally well. Remember only hard work and nothing else pays in the long run. As a senior team member, we must have our communication channels open with juniors. Having routine meetings and huddles every morning or evening will lead to transparency, openness and team work. Do not make the meeting too formal. The employees should be allowed to share their ideas freely. Let them interact with each other. Morning/evening meetings go a long way in breaking the ice among employees and improving interpersonal relationships at workplace. Work must be equally allocated to team members to expect the best out of them. No employee should be overburdened. People working in teams are friendlier and adjust with each other better. I have personally learned so many things from my juniors and grown as an individual and I do acknowledge in front of them. The aim is not only to grow as professional but to grow as a nice human being. There have been times when I had to personally be out of office for a long period and it is then when my team stood by me and didn't allow work to get hampered in my absence. Creating a finest team and your successors make your life easy at work place because they are there to share your burden. Be like a coach, mentor and friend to your juniors and leave your ego out of your workplace.

Interpersonal skills needed to deal with co - workers
One needs to be a little more adjusting and compromising at the workplace. Don't expect everything to be done just the way you like it. You will have all types of people around. Accept people as they are. Do not always look at the negative side of things. It is essential to look at the positive side of an individual. Being flexible at work always helps. Employees must communicate with each other effectively for a healthy relationship. Remember a problem shared is a problem resolved. Interact with your co - workers more often. There must be on an open platform where every individual has the liberty to express his/her views and opinions. Avoid hiding things from your fellow workers. Greet and treat your co - workers with dignity and respect. An individual spends maximum active time at his workplace and it is practically not possible for him to work all alone. One needs people to talk to and discuss various issues at the workplace. Research says productivity increases manifold when individuals work in groups as compared to an individual working alone. And for effective groups, it is important to have cordial relations.

As we all know meaning of TEAM is Together Everyone Achieves More but within teams it is important to be in tune with other's feelings and needs which is where interpersonal skills will play an important role.