interpersonal skills for managers

The Top 4 Interpersonal Skills Of A Manager To Win Big

High-skilled managers are the differentiating factor in today’s VUCA world, where companies struggle to find the tiniest bit of competitive advantage. But, with the changing working conditions of hybrid and remote working, even managers need help managing teams and working effectively. One of the most critical factors for the success of any manager is navigating interpersonal communication and coordination. The 4 top interpersonal skills for managers discussed below show how a manager can take a more collaborative stance with the team members even in a challenging company environment.

What do interpersonal skills mean?

Interpersonal skills are the skills that allow people to interact with each other effectively. They include communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. You need interpersonal skills to get along with other people, both in your personal and professional life.

In a nutshell, interpersonal skills can be defined as:

  • the ability to read others, understand them and respond appropriately
  • being able to create rapport quickly with the people you want and need to work with
  • developing the skills, enthusiasm, and confidence to deal effectively with all internal and external stakeholders
The interpersonal skills of a manager are crucial because the interaction between employees and managers is essential in today’s work environment. Without effective communication, it becomes tough for managers – especially with their direct reports!

Types of interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills for managers can be categorized into two types, namely: the physical and the social. 

Physical Interpersonal Skills

Physical interpersonal skills of a manager are all about body language in conversations. For example, when a manager is under pressure and stress at work, they must immediately find ways out of trouble rather than taking it personally and allowing their anger to acting up. Physical interpersonal interaction can be manifested through communication behavior such as eye contact while speaking, posture while speaking, emphasis on certain words, etc. Improper use of physical behavior can give the impression that the manager is not a good listener.

Social Interpersonal Skills

To bring harmony among different people inside a team, it’s necessary for the managers and subordinates to understand each other’s personality types and points of view. The manager must know that some people may need more physical interaction than others, so they can adapt themselves to the particular personality type. The most obvious and basic requirement that a manager must have is to be sensitive to the moods of his people. It means managing them by following their “High” & “Low”.

What is the importance of interpersonal skills for managers?

Good interpersonal skills of a manager are important to effectively manage teams because these skills help build trust, open communication, and cooperation. When team members trust their managers, they are more likely to be open and honest with them. This can help the manager identify potential problems and address them before they become bigger issues. In addition, when team members cooperate, they can work more effectively and efficiently towards common goals.

To be specific about the outcomes, the interpersonal skills of a manager can help them:

  • Understand their team members
  • Deal with the team members with empathy
  • Develop the right people skills, technical skills, and soft skills necessary for their role
  • Practice conflict management constructively
  • Communicate effectively with their team members in both written and verbal communication
  • Provide feedback in the form of constructive criticism that is both meaningful and helpful
  • Empower their team members to be creative and productive
  • Build a team that is productive, cohesive, and motivated
All these outcomes are enough to prove the importance of interpersonal skills for managers.

What are the top 4 interpersonal skills for managers?

Some specific skills fall under the relevant interpersonal skills for a manager’s role. Those 4 specific skills are:

1. Communication

Communication skills refer to the ability to effectively exchange information with another person. It includes both verbal and nonverbal communication.

Verbal communication involves speaking and listening. The speaker must be able to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively, while the listener must be able to understand what is being said. Verbal communication can be further divided into two categories: oral and written. Oral communication is face-to-face, while written communication is done through text or email.

Nonverbal communication includes body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures. Good nonverbal communication is important to a successful conversation because it often goes unseen by both parties.

A manager with communication skills:

2. Motivation

Motivational skills refer to the ability to inspire oneself and others to achieve a goal. It is a psychological process that gives purpose and direction to behavior. Good motivational skills allow us to achieve our goals and aspirations. They also help us to maintain a positive attitude despite any obstacles or setbacks we may face.

A manager with good motivational skills:

  • Identifies when the team morale may be down
  • Preempts situations when team morale could below
  • Encourages team from time to time to pick up morale where it has dropped
  • Is able to give feedback in a way that preserves team morale
  • uses emotional intelligence to keep employees and themselves motivated
Wondering how to motivate your team? Check out the top 8 motivational techniques here.

3. Taking multiple perspectives

As a manager, it’s important to be able to take different perspectives into account when making decisions. This means being able to see things from your employees’ points of view, as well as from a higher level, looking at the big picture. It’s also important to be able to switch between these perspectives as needed to make the best decisions for your company.

Being able to take different perspectives into account is especially important when you’re dealing with difficult or sensitive situations. It can help you find a resolution that works for everyone involved. You may also find that taking different perspectives helps you come up with better ideas and solutions to problems than other options. It also helps managers to display compassion and is a good step toward building trust.

A manager who takes multiple perspectives:

  • Takes suggestions before sharing his/her opinions on the matter
  • Paraphrases what his/her employees are saying to verify if he/she understood them correctly
  • Encourages employees to come to them if they have any doubts about the decisions taken
  • Shares their side of the story even if it may not agree with what he or she previously thought

4. Balances stakeholders

When managing a business, it is important to remember to balance the interests of all stakeholders. This includes not just higher-ups and employees but also customers, suppliers, and the community in which the business operates.

Balancing the interests of different stakeholders can be difficult, but it is important to make sure that all voices are heard and that the business is acting in a way that is fair and responsible. Often, this means making tough decisions that may not be popular with everyone.

A manager who knows how to balance stakeholders:

  • Is cooperative and tries to keep everyone on board 
  • Keeps the team’s interest in mind while managing internal and external stakeholders
  • Knows the subtle art of pushing back and being assertive
  • Allows everyone to voice their opinions carefully, respectfully, and objectively
  • Is a good negotiator as well as a good manager.

How can managers develop interpersonal skills? 6 easy tips

All the discussions above show that by developing interpersonal skills, one can become a more effective manager. But the question remains – how to develop the interpersonal skills of a manager? We have 6 simple tips for the same.

1. Listen attentively

The ability to listen attentively is a critical interpersonal skill of a manager. But it is the one that is often overlooked. When we listen attentively, we demonstrate that we care about the person we are talking to and are interested in what they have to say. It makes the other person feel valued and respected and can help build strong relationships.

There are a few things that you can do to improve your ability to listen attentively:

  • First, make sure you are not distracted by other things around you when you are in a conversation with your team members.
  • Secondly, try to refrain from judging or interrupting the person who is speaking. It shows your impatience with the discussion. As a result, the other person will think you are not taking the conversation seriously.
  • Finally, pay attention to everything the person is saying—don’t skip ahead to what you think they will say next. Assuming the other person’s words or thoughts can be disrespectful. 
You can read a more detailed piece about Active Listening skills and how to develop them.

2. Respect others and their opinions, even if you do not agree with them

When it comes to interpersonal skills for managers, respect is vital. It’s the backbone of any healthy relationship. Disrespect in a work environment can quickly make the culture toxic. Hence, respectful communication is essential in any team and can differentiate between a good and bad work environment.

It’s crucial for managers to remember that everyone has different opinions and backgrounds. Managers must learn to handle differing opinions and viewpoints. As a manager, you must always take the time to listen to others, even if you disagree with them. This will help you to understand their perspective better and maybe even learn something new. Moreover, be respectful when dismissing someone’s viewpoint or presenting your counter.

3. Ask questions to gain a better understanding of what the other person is saying

One of the ways to develop effective interpersonal skills, you must learn to ask probing questions. Questions show that you are interested in the other person and care about them. Asking questions also helps you go deeper into the discussion and learn more about what the other person is trying to say. As a result, you develop a deeper bond with the individual. Also, asking the right clarifying questions can eliminate misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

When discussing a personal or professional topic, refrain from asking close-ended questions. A close-ended question stifles the discussion quickly. Instead, focus on open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow the other person to explain what’s on their mind.

4. Express your feelings calmly and respectfully

The interpersonal skills of a manager also involve being able to express your feelings calmly and respectfully to the people you work with. This ability becomes even more crucial in situations when emotions are running high. Situations with charged emotions expose an individual’s true self to others. Maintaining composure in such cases makes your team believe you are in control, which builds their confidence in your ability to lead them.

If you can do this as a manager, you will create an environment where people feel safe and comfortable communicating with you. This, in turn, will allow you to build better relationships with your team and get more out of them. It also helps to resolve conflicts quickly and effectively.

5. Opt for manager coaching

You might find yourself in situations that need deeper intervention to build your interpersonal skills. In these situations, self-help may not be enough. Effective interpersonal skills can be learned and improved with the help of manager coaching. Coaching can help you improve your interpersonal skills by focused guidance and feedback on the mistakes you might be making. To strategically build these skills, you will have to measure and gauge your progress. With proper measurement and guidance, coaching will also help you develop a plan of action that will make it easier for you to build effective relationships with others and ultimately develop interpersonal skills.

There are many options for leadership development coaching, which cover many important areas, including these top interpersonal skills. You can explore them here before choosing one for yourself. And if that’s too confusing, we have Risely! Risely is an AI-Powered Executive Coaching Platform that helps you build high-performing teams. Risley will not only help you develop your interpersonal skills but also help you solve the challenges you might be facing as a result of ineffective people management skills.

6. Take time for reflection after each interaction

When you are interacting with someone, take a step back and think about how you felt during and after the interaction. What were your emotions? How was your tone of voice? What were your facial expressions? How was the other person reacting? After taking some time for reflection, write down what you could have done differently to make the interaction more positive for both of you. When you can identify areas for improvement, you can start to work on them and become more effective by developing the right interpersonal skills for a manager.


Managing people can be a challenging task, but it’s essential if you want to lead a successful team. Managers need interpersonal skills to successfully lead and manage teams. The importance of these skills cannot be overemphasized, as poor interpersonal skills of a manager can lead to conflicts, poor morale, and organizational chaos. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the four top interpersonal skills for managers to be successful in their roles. We believe that if managers can build these four skills, they’ll have an easy road to becoming effective managers.

Strengthen your interpersonal skills by practicing active listening.

Download the free active listening toolkit – an extensive guide for managers to develop a critical skill.

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