The news is that EQ is the new IQ — emotional intelligence isn’t just an asset in daily life but also a key predictor of career success. Self-awareness, communication skills and empathy naturally promote effective collaboration, leadership, conflict avoidance and/or resolution.

Best of all, EQ isn’t an innate, unchangeable trait — it’s learnable. The remainder of this article will discuss the importance of interpersonal skills in the workplace and outline a step-by-step training process for building EQ.

The Components of EQ: Interpersonal Versus Intrapersonal Skills

First, let’s clarify the difference between interpersonal skills and intrapersonal skills:

  • Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal skills refer to an individual’s capacity to recognize and empathize with other people’s emotions, speech and non-verbal communication and to successfully navigate social situations.
  • Intrapersonal Skills: Intrapersonal skills are one’s general level of self-awareness, ability to introspect and emotional regulation capability. It’s useful to think of interpersonal skills as what guide your conversations and interactions with others, while intrapersonal skills are your internal monologue.

How Interpersonal Skills Lead to Interpersonal Effectiveness

So, why are strong interpersonal skills vital? It’s really all in the name: How team members interact with each other and how effectively leaders communicate with their subordinates will determine company culture and staff cohesion and greatly influence the workplace’s productivity level.

Even the highest salary and the best benefits package in the world won’t necessarily compensate for a toxic work culture or consistently poor communication from management. That’s why recruiting, training and retaining talent with effective interpersonal skills is critical: A happy and collaborative team will simply do better work.

Here are some examples of how interpersonal skills lead to interpersonal effectiveness:

  • Team cohesion: Effective communication and active listening contribute to strong collaboration and teamwork. Team members who trust each other will have an easier time working together while pairing employees with the right balance of interpersonal strengths and weaknesses will help the team perform as a whole rather than a set of parts moving in different directions.
  • Conflict resolution: Strong interpersonal skills allow workers to solve conflicts without causing long-term resentment or workplace tension. The key is to be assertive but not overbearing and to attempt to defuse quarrels before they escalate.
  • Negotiation: Virtually every job requires some amount of negotiation, and interpersonal skills like empathy, active listening and effective communication improve the likelihood of positive outcomes for any negotiation process.

Using a Professional Development Plan to Build EQ Skills

It’s clear that interpersonal skills play a crucial role in effective communication, team collaboration and fostering positive workplace relationships. Here are four strategies for enhancing learners’ EQ skills.

  1. Assess interpersonal skills gaps. First, you must identify new hires’ strengths and weaknesses: You can use self-assessments, peer evaluations, and/or standardized tests to measure interpersonal skills.
  2. Personalized training programs. Once you’ve identified what your learners need to improve, design EQ skills training programs focused on teaching missing competencies. Ideally, the training will include a blend of modalities, such as group discussions, workshops and coaching.
  3. Encourage and promote self-awareness. Ultimately, EQ skills training aims to help build learners’ interpersonal skills. This won’t happen unless learners acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and commit to improving.
  4. Provide consistent feedback. Learners must receive feedback, ideally a blend of constructive criticism and praise, throughout training. This helps them understand what they’ve achieved and what they still need to work on in order to build their EQ skills.
  5. Assess learners’ progress. Regularly assess the progress of learners’ interpersonal skills development using quantitative and qualitative metrics to measure improvement. Also, remember that interpersonal skills aren’t developed overnight, and individuals may progress at different rates. Don’t be afraid to adapt the program according to learners’ feedback and individual experiences.

Encouraging employees to develop strong interpersonal skills should be a priority for any business: They lead to improved team dynamics, more effective communication, and a more positive workplace culture, ultimately contributing to the overall productivity and long-term financial success of the organization.