Soft Skills Matter #2 – Interpersonal skills

This is the second article of Soft Skills Matter, a series of 3 episodes that intends to highlight the importance of soft skills on the job market, and more broadly in everyday life, as well as to give some advice that I hope will be useful to you.

In this article, I will highlight the interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, leadership, negotiation and conflict resolution.

Interpersonal skills are, as the name implies, the set of skills that an individual uses when he/she interacts with other individuals, either privately or in the work context. In an era where social networks are flourishing exponentially, it is important to know how to use these skills to our advantage.


Michael Jordan once said “talent wins games, but only teamwork wins championships.” This quote portrays well the importance of teamwork in sports. But it can obviously be transposed to all the professional domains. Rare are the moments when we do not need to collaborate with other people. Therefore, you must know how to do it in the most appropriate way. Here are some tips that enhance teamwork:

  • Respecting differences: We are all different from each other, so we all have points of view that do not coincide perfectly with the others. Therefore, it is critical to use these differences toward a common goal.
  • Sharing knowledge: Ideas will only be great if shared with others. No matter how individualistic someone may be, at some point they will need the help of his/her pairs. Only at that moment, productivity will be improved, and goals will be achieved.
  • Being supportive: When you see a colleague in need of help, you must help him/her to overcome the problem. The spirit of solidarity is the soul of teamwork and the catalyst for great projects. We must not forget that one day we are the ones who help, but later we can be the ones who need to be helped.

thrree chutes only - teamwork


Leadership is the ability to motivate people toward a common goal. It is the ability to set a model, without misusing superior hierarchical status. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln are some examples of great leaders in our history. They surely knew how to pass on their messages in an inspiring and aggregating manner. Let’s see how you can do it as well:

  • Communicating well: The leader knows how to communicate the team’s goals clearly and concisely.
  • Being a good listener: Knowing the importance of being a good listener is as important as having good communication skills. Listen to their concerns, opinions and suggestions is essential. Allowing everyone to express themselves is fundamental to leadership recognition.
  • Knowing the team: It is essential that the leader knows his team perfectly, because only then he will be able to correct its weakest points and reinforce its strongest ones.

Cartoon ID: toon-1093


In professional life, negotiation skills are often fundamental. Even those who have never worked and must go through their first job interviews will probably find themselves having to negotiate, for example the salary, the number of working hours, or the number of holidays. It is thus essential to know how to face this critical moment in the most effective way. Let’s see how:

  • Setting goals: This is a reflection that must be done before the negotiation moment. It is necessary to have a well-defined goal because this will be the benchmark during the negotiation. This goal must be attainable, because if it is not realistic, then obviously the outcome of the negotiation will not be the desired one.
  • Anticipating concessions: These concessions will be almost inevitable. So, nothing better than to prepare them in advance. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” It is therefore important to make a list of things that are negotiable. During the negotiation phase, you can discuss those options that have the greatest margin for reconsideration.
  • Being flexible: After defining the objectives and anticipating the concessions, it is necessary to negotiate properly. At this stage, you cannot be too intransigent, as the interlocutor may give up on finding an agreement. It is necessary to weigh the potential advantages of counterproposals. However, you should not be too flexible, as you may later realize that you have gone too far in making concessions.

Heavens Gates


Conflict resolution

For many reasons, people within the same company may come into conflict. In fact, this happens more often than you might think. We must know how to manage these moments quickly and effectively, because a slow response can let the bad environment at work proliferate to other sectors. Let’s see how to manage these situations:

  • Understanding the causes: Before solving a problem, it is necessary to identify it first. Therefore, it is essential to remain calm and, without pointing fingers to others, seek the root of the conflict. This is the starting point to resolve the dispute.
  • Communicating effectively: Sometimes, lack of communication within a team can lead to misunderstandings and, consequently, conflicts that will cause a general bad feeling for everyone. Periodically organizing meetings, where concerns are openly discussed, can help prevent future quarrels.
  • Investing in cooperation: If there is a lot of competition within the work environment, whether for a promotion or any other reason, this is enough to cause disputes. Therefore, competition between colleagues should be avoided as much as possible. It is also highly recommended implementing a team-building department whose function is to plan activities that promote the spirit of cooperation.

Conflict Resolution

I hope you enjoyed this second episode of Soft Skills Matter.

Next week, the last episode on the intrapersonal skills will be available. Don’t miss it!

Gonçalo Sousa Ramos
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