INSIGHT AVENUE
Improving interpersonal skills Part 1
by Lea Sicat Reyes

Who wouldnít want a workplace where people genuinely get along? In one of the studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review, it could be readily gleaned that a good pay is not the number one motive why employees stay in the company. Job satisfaction topped the list and a lot of it had to do with relationships.

You canít have a relationship without interacting. Thatís how you basically form a relationship to begin with. When you talk, when you collaborate, when you exchange ideas, slowly but surely, you begin to create a working relationship. The problem is, as human beings with different perspectives, personalities, and backgrounds, thereís a huge chance that arguments and tension would happen along the way. There is, however, a way to lessen the stress of opposing views by improving a set of skills that would allow people to enjoy a healthy and dynamic environment in any organization. Iím talking about INTERPERSONAL SKILLS.

At the mere mention of interpersonal skills, a lot of us might think of excellent social adaptability. These skills, when considered as an aggregate, go well beyond that. Weíre talking about the interconnectedness of listening, communication, and attitude. In this fivepart series, Iíll be talking about how to improve our interpersonal skills so we can ďgo beyond the call of duty and show what it takes to fit within the organizationís culture.Ē

The first thing that Iíd like to discuss is assertiveness. Assertiveness is an essential tool in communicating. It allows us to respond clearly, receive feedback graciously, disagree agreeably, and handle difficult circumstances effectively. Iíd like to expound on assertiveness by discussing what itís not.

Case A: Aggression

Some of you might have a co-worker (or it could be we ourselves) who responds to situations aggressively. It manifests in various ways. Thereís the demanding boss. Threats and intimidation are a way of life. If thereís a fact-finding committee, this community is dominated by a fault-finding committee. Relationships are very volatile and meetings are often tension- filled.

Case B: Passivity

This is the polar opposite of aggression. Thereís a bisaya slang for this. Kevz. A person just goes to work to work and nothing more. S/he never shares ideas and rarely stands up for himself/herself. This type of response is bordering towards apathy. Passive coworkers basically donít care.

Case C: Passive-Aggressive

This is a lethal combination of aggression and passivity. The worst part? Itís common among Filipinos because culturally, we donít like confrontation. Thatís why gossip can sometimes be called the ďnational past timeĒ (but we should not accept this, right?). Since we canít tell the person how we feel straight to his/her face, weíd rather say stuff behind his/her back or lash out on social media. Thatís being passive- aggressive. We feast on intrigue and complaints rather than being frank with our feelings to our supervisor. We agree on the surface but are secretly hostile to whatever idea is being raised. Worse, one can even resort to sabotaging someone behind the scene.

How do you combat these debilitating situations in the workplace? BE ASSERTIVE. Be comfortable saying yes when you mean it and no when appropriate. Be calm, respectful, honest, and concise in expressing your feelings. Speak with clarity, listen intently, and maintain eye contact. This shows that you are willing to express your thoughts while being open to other ideas. See, assertiveness is not a talent. Itís a skill that we learn to develop over the years but only if we are open enough to get better at it.


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