Interpersonal skills are essential for effective leadership, yet many struggle to communicate clearly, actively listen, and resolve conflicts. Adopting a “coach mindset” can greatly enhance how you relate with colleagues, employees, and clients alike. Here are the core pillars for improving your interpersonal abilities.
Establish Psychological Safety
At the heart of positive interpersonal relations is psychological safety – the shared belief that a setting is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. Without it, people don’t speak up or collaborate effectively. Some ways to foster psychological safety include:
- Don’t interrupt or talk over people
- Avoid inappropriate or borderline comments
- Don’t share sensitive information about others
When people feel safe to express their honest thoughts and feelings, relationships flourish.
One of the hardest yet most vital skills is catching yourself when you begin mentally judging what someone else says or does. Judgment closes down communication and strains relationships. Instead, make an effort to simply listen without critique or condemnation. Create space for people to share openly without fear of backlash. Suspend your evaluations and reactions just listen.
Specialize in Explorative Listening
At the heart of interpersonal intelligence is the ability to listen well. There are four levels of listening:
- Internal – Half-listening while caught up in your own mental reactions and judgments
- Intentional – Making an effort to be fully present and understand the other person
- Global – Absorbing the full breadth of communication with engaged curiosity
- Immersed – Picking up on deeper patterns and meaning by transcending surface-level hearing
Levels three and four are what you want to strive for. When you operate at these higher levels of listening, you and the other person will experience breakthroughs in communication and conflict resolution.
Embody a Coach Mindset
The final piece for improving your interpersonal abilities is adopting a coach mindset with others. This entails:
- Holding space for people’s emotions without trying to fix or change them
- Trusting that others already have the answers within them
- Exploring collaborative solutions without blame or shame
Essentially, relate to every person—employees, colleagues, clients—as your coaching client. This frees you from an authoritative position so you can nurture the relationship through deep listening, empathy, and curiosity.
The core techniques of a coaching approach revolve around mindset, intentional presence, and a listening-centered methodology focused on forming a trusting partnership. Implementing even a few of these tools and techniques into tense conversations can set you on the path to more conscious and constructive business communication.