Primary Blog/Personal Development & Self Mastery/How Can You Improve Your Interpersonal Skills Even If You're Shy or Introverted?

How Can You Improve Your Interpersonal Skills Even If You're Shy or Introverted?

Thursday, April 20, 2023

When it comes to improving anything at all, it’s really important to understand the true nature or essence of the area in which you desire to improve. Since this article is concerned with the area of improving interpersonal skills, let’s take a moment to fully understand the essence of interpersonal skills.

The prefix of interpersonal is “inter” and inter means “in-between”, hence interpersonal means in between people. Therefore, interpersonal skills are related to the activities that happen between people as they interact: how we speak, how we behave, how we respond to other people mentally and intellectually so that we are improving and creating desirable outcomes as a result of that interaction.

We interact with people every day. It could be people at work, at home, or even people across the world on social media. But how do you ensure that interaction with other people produces better outcomes? That’s what we are going to talk about in this article.

What does it take to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills require wisdom. It is the wisdom to know how to speak, act, behave, and respond to other people. And wisdom simply means a body of principles that govern the way we act, speak, behave, and respond to other people.

Wisdom guides our perceptions. It guides our discernment as well because we need to have the ability to discern what we say; it guides what responses are appropriate and what response will produce those outcomes as a result of the interaction. By understanding what wisdom is, you can make the connection between wisdom and interpersonal skills, then you realize that it has nothing to do with being shy or introverted.

Having the wisdom to speak, behave, and respond to other people means that you have a body of principles; you have that knowledge base and therefore you’ve applied that knowledge base enough times to develop it into a skill set. And now you have the confidence of that skill set and can put it forward into the real world and therefore gain experience on that application of the skill set – that is wisdom; it has nothing to do with your personality or your preferences.

Shyness or the state of being introverted are personality-driven and to some extent, they are also preferences. So, improving your interpersonal skills does not depend on those elements. In this article, I’ll share four key principles to improve your interpersonal skills.

1. Social Competency

Having competency means having proficiency in something – it means you have achieved mastery. So, social competency is mastery of a social situation or mastery of a social network. When it comes to social competency, this is where you master the “skill sets” that are relevant and crucial for optimizing interactions with others. This is what most people talk about when they say “improving your interpersonal skills”.

It is the number one component of improving interpersonal skills. These skills include communication, conflict management, negotiation, presentation, and self expression. Those are social competencies and it’s just one component of interpersonal skills improvement; it is only ¼ of it because there are 3 more aspects that I will share in the rest of this article.

So, when you’re reading articles or watching videos about interpersonal skills, this is what most people refer to when they think about “how do I improve my interpersonal skills?” But this is only ¼ of it – mastering these particular skill sets.

If you’ve been researching and learning about interpersonal skills, and you’re serious about mastering these skill sets, one of the most important shifts you have to make is understanding that learning things isn’t the same as mastering them. Learning something only means you have a cognitive or intellectual understanding of it. But a mere cognitive understanding is not the end goal – the end goal is mastery. When you have mastered something, you no longer need to utilize a lot of your mental resources or effort to perform that skill. Rather it becomes effortless.

Taking communication skills for example; the ability to effectively present your ideas to a non-specialist audience; your ability to persuade your team, bosses, or team supervisors. Achieving mastery in communication means that you can perform those activities without a whole lot of your mental resources.

2. Standards of Conscience

This is when you have a standard of how you treat other people, for example. It is also having a moral compass, an inner voice, or a guide that shows us how to behave. It is a moral compass that helps us to have an acute level of awareness of the receptivity of our current behaviors and future behaviors, including our thoughts towards others. One may say that this constitutes outward and inward behavior, respectively.

This is a standard that you have. ‘We don’t rise to our dreams, we rise to our highest standards.’ So your standard of conscience will formulate and guide your philosophy on how you relate with other people. Your standards will also influence how you’re able to implement the first principle of social competency.

Although a lot of people understand (on an intellectual level) that we need to have a social conscience, in particular events or situations we still don’t know how to act or respond to someone in that moment. It requires a lot of external guidance to help us to hone that skill set. When you master the principle of standard conscience, in any situation you come across in your workforce or in your relationships, or in your life, you’ll have the confidence and the courage in how to act.

So, you can see how one principle builds upon the other. While we understand intellectually that it is wise to behave morally, that it is respectable to treat others in a certain way, sometimes there are grey zones. Not everything in a social relationship is black and white. There are these grey zones and these grey zones usually happen in the workplace, especially if you’re working in a multicultural organization or in an organization where there are both in-person and online interactions. Having the standard of conscience and developing mastery around it will help you improve your interpersonal skills.

3. Situational Consciousness

This is when you are truly, genuinely, and acutely aware of your surroundings – it means you have situational awareness. Oftentimes, when we are so focused on that one thing we don’t see everything around us; the contextual features of it. So, having a situational consciousness means that you’re aware of yourself and how you relate to the context around you. It also means that you’re aware of the big picture of the situation around you.

This will help guide your actions and also your ability to form mental models of what to do and what to say in those particular situations. Let’s face it, any situation you can come across in life has a lot of dynamism; it could be a lot of moving pieces. There could be many things in that environment or event that you don’t see and so it requires honing that consciousness.

When you have true awareness around you, sometimes you may realize that your actions or choice or what to do isn’t quite the best one moving forward. That’s when you realize that there’s this part of it that you didn’t see before and it’s going to change your strategy moving forward so that you can create a sustainable fair exchange in your relationships. And that’s how powerful awareness can be.
When it comes to having situational awareness, one of the things that is preventing people from having that acuteness in awareness is that we don’t know how to train our brains to filter out what is important. Inside of our brain is a filter system called the reticular activating system. It is a built-in filter right around the back of our brain within the brain stem. This is what helps us to filter what is truly important.

However, our filter is typically filtering based on what we value and what we want to focus on and it is also distracted by our emotions. The key will be in how you hone your situational awareness so that your brain can automatically filter out what is truly important to you so that it’ll give you a heightened awareness for you to begin to see things that you would not normally see.

Those who are successful in their career, business, and life tend to be able to see the big picture and interconnectedness of things and then formulate a strategy to get there. They have an acute situational awareness. They have awareness of themselves as they move through an environment as well as the elements of that environment. And they are not overwhelmed by it because they’ve trained themselves to master developing mental models on how to think about these things.

Again, this requires external guidance to help you to hone that skill set. So that once you develop that skill set with a coach and a mentor you can master the inner guidance, and it’ll become an automatic response.

4. Self-Control

This is all about managing your emotions because emotions can be a very strong distractor from our highest values, objectives, and meaningful goals. Even if a lot of people won’t admit it, we mostly do things just because we feel like it. When you don’t feel like doing something even though you know it’s important at that moment, it then becomes the most difficult thing to do. Self-control is about how you influence yourself and how you manage your emotions.
Self-control merges with intrapersonal skills. Although this article is about interpersonal skills, self-control encompasses intrapersonal skills – “intrapersonal” meaning “within the person”. The essence of self-control is how you manage yourself. It’s all within you. And this falls inside of developing interpersonal skills as well.

Accountability is the multiplier for success. When we set out to make improvements to ourselves and our lives, transformation is key. Information alone doesn’t transform. My coaching program, Awaken to Vocation, is an empowerment program for educated, career-driven executives who value making a meaningful contribution as much as they value making a good living. It is designed to help you master your professional destiny, elevate your vocational confidence, and dominate your life purpose. Guard your future.

Apply HERE for an opportunity to work with me.

If you are interested in more material about career growth, communication skills, and critical thinking for career, check out my YouTube channel or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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