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Interpersonal Skills
(Sensitivity and Human Relations Behavior)

Definition: The understanding of observational patterns between people in the workforce, the ability to carry out actions that consider the feelings and needs of others, and the capacity to listen and display sensitivity to others’ individuality, beliefs, and well-being.


  • Recognize that it is important for leaders to show interest in people and their needs. You accomplish your work through other people. If you don’t know what they’re interested in or what they need, you won’t understand what motivates them or be able to garner their support.

    • Ask open-ended questions about people’s work—what they enjoy, what gives them the most satisfaction, what their biggest challenges are. Ask how you can help them be more successful.

    • Use your active listening skills by paraphrasing, reflecting, and summarizing.

    • Spending time on relationships is an investment. The amount of time you devote to others will help you and the organization in the long run.

  • Adjust your interpersonal style and communication to a variety of people and situations.

    • Be careful about how and when you adjust your style. You may be viewed as manipulative if you change styles suddenly. Also, people might believe you are showing favoritism if you use drastically different styles with different people.

  • Promote a positive work environment: Positive work environments equal happy coworkers. A positive work environment reduces stress, promotes creativity and innovation, and helps keep employees productive. Touch base with coworkers often and see how they are doing. If you have downtime, offer your assistance to those who need it.

Self-Directed Learning Activities

Relevant Readings:


  • Bacon, T. R. (2006). What people want: A manager's guide to building relationships that work. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.

  • Benfield, T.G. (2016). Emotional intelligence: An organic journey to the centre of yourself. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

  • Bolton, R. (1979). People Skills: how to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflict. NY:Simon & Schuster.

  • Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.

  • D'Souza, S. (2007). Brilliant Networking: What the Best Networkers Know, Do, and Say. NY: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

  • Gostick, A., & Christopher, S. (2010). The levity effect: Why it pays to lighten up. NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Lowndes, L. (2003). How to talk to anyone: 92 little tricks for big success in relationships. McGraw-Hill Education.


Self-Guided Activities:

  • Research how nonverbal cues differ between genders and cultures.

  • Compare a positive peer relationship with one that is unstable/thorny. What makes the difference?

  • As you work with your peers, try to recognize when you’re on the verge of damaging a relationship over a small issue. Take a step back and think about the larger context. Is it worth it just to make a point?

  • Use a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to gain insight into your personal style and those of others. This will help you understand why the detail people get so frustrated when big-picture thinkers start brainstorming during a project planning meeting.

  • Strengthening your empathy through deep listening techniques is essential to improve your interpersonal skills: Conduct daily observations of yourself in moments of listening: When are you choosing to listen, and when do you tune out? When do you choose to interrupt someone who is speaking, and what happens when you do or don't interrupt? Once you begin observing your choices, you can make intentional choices to pause between listening and responding. Choose to seek better understanding of what is being said by asking clarifying questions and repeating back to the speaker what you have heard. When you take on these practices daily, you can improve your interpersonal skills.

Guided Learning Activities


  • Assess whether your intentions match your behavior. You may not intend to be rude or disrespectful, but nonverbal behaviors can give the impression that you aren’t interested in listening, you don’t think others’ views are important, or you don’t care about their feelings. Ask for feedback about the impressions you give others.

  • If possible, hold a meeting with your peers and encourage people to discuss communication styles so everyone can recognize when someone’s style is different from their own.

  • Ask people to write a description of the type of relationship they would like to have with their supervisor.

  • Practice active listening skills during all conversations: Whenever you have a conversation, a particularly work-related or instructional one, be mindful of what the other person is saying. Repeat what they say in your own words to ensure you understand. By showing them you are actively listening, you are fostering a better working relationship.

  • Let coworkers know when you appreciate them: It feels great when you know those you work hard with or for appreciate your efforts. Rather than keeping your appreciation to yourself, let others know when they do a good job. When people know they are appreciated, they are motivated to keep up the good work.

  • Smile and use positive body language: Body language is important in communication. Taking pride in your appearance is just the first step. Practice standing in a welcoming way and other non-verbal communication skills. Most of all, smile when interacting with others.

Formal Training/Education

School and Course Module(s):

Central Wyoming College

COM 1040-Intro to Human Communication: This course is an introduction to the process of human communication. Six major areas of communication studies will be examined: interpersonal, intercultural, small group, public, mass, and organizational. This course is designed to combine theory and practice to increase both understanding and skills from each perspective. The course will discuss the evolution of communication theory, current trends, and possible areas for future research. A range of employment opportunities in the discipline of communication will also be explored. (3 lect.)

COM/MGT 2130 -Human Relations: This course is designed to help students become successful in predicting, understanding, and influencing the outcome of their interactions with others by better understanding themselves. The course will involve readings, group activities, class discussions and short essays to explore and analyze theoretical concepts of human relations and their application from a personal, interpersonal, and organizational perspective. The use of interactive instruction will develop the student's ability to solve problems and think critically about their relationships with themselves, their peers, and their co-workers. The course will provide students with human relations skills critical for successful employment in a supervisory capacity. Students earning credit in CO/M 2130 may not earn credit in MGT 2130. (3 lect.) ORAL

Counseling-2300: This course presents instruction and practice in basic counseling and communication skills. It emphasizes listening, responding, encouraging, and initiating change in interpersonal communication through mediation and conflict resolution. (3 lect.)

BADM 1020: Successful business professionals are effective communicators. This course will develop and sharpen students’ written, oral and interpersonal communication skills. Students will explore crucial rhetorical issues that impact their ability to communicate and achieve specific objectives as business leaders. The psychology and mechanics of written business communication will be thoroughly explored and widely applied. Documents that demand careful planning and composition, solid content and argument, and logical organization and structure will be created. Non-written applications in business areas such as international/intercultural, nonverbal, interpersonal, and ethical communication will also be stressed. Prerequisite: Completion of ENGL 1010. (3 lect.) WR2

Eastern Wyoming College

CO/M 1030 Interpersonal Communication (3L, 3CR): Introduction to oral communication in interpersonal group and audience situations. Brief survey of communication rhetoric, principles, and techniques.

CO/M 1040 Introduction to Human Communication (3L, 3CR): This course focuses on the role of communication in current affairs, business, and personal relations. Practical application of theory to communication problems in everyday life.

Laramie County Community College

CO/M 1015 FOUNDATIONS OF COMMUNICATION:Students explore communication contexts and develop skills in the following areas: interpersonal communication, public speaking, and small group communication. This course is designed primarily for applied sciences degrees and certificate programs. Prerequisite: ENGL 0810 or equivalent placement test score.

CO/M 1030 INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION:Students develop skills in interpersonal communication by examining topics such as perception, identity, listening, nonverbal communication, relationship development, conflict management and diversity. Prerequisite: Completion of ENGL 0810 or equivalent placement test score.

Northern Wyoming Community College

CO/M 1030 -Interpersonal Communication: This is an introductory course which presents and applies theories, data and insights into interpersonal relationships, enabling students to make more effective communication choices.General Education Requirement: Communication. Credits: 3. Contact Hours: 3 lecture hrs/week

Western Wyoming Community College

COMM 1030 INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: This course combines reading, discussions, lectures and exercises to explore a wide variety of topics and skills in face-to-face interaction. The student will become aware of current research in the human communication field as well as become more effective communicators in their relationships with friends, family, co-workers, and intimates. Here is a sampling of topics and skills included in the course: nonverbal communication, male female communication problems, handling interpersonal conflict, improving listening and response skills, and enhancing communication in intimate relationships.

COMM 1070 EFFECTIVE LISTENING: Listening is the process of hearing, attending to, interpreting, remembering, and responding to spoken messages. This course will explore listening theories and research, the listening process, listening challenges, various listening contexts; and essential listening skills.

Additional Trainings:

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