Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace

Regardless of your role in the workplace, you will interact with supervisors, managers, coworkers, employees, direct reports, clients, and customers. The ability to communicate with others in positive ways is key to ensuring productivity and customer satisfaction. These abilities are known as interpersonal skills, which are generally divided into the following categories.


  • Verbal communication: This is basically what you say and how you say it. Naturally, it involves words, but it also includes tone and manners. For a front-desk receptionist, for example, the ability to speak clearly and politely is key, whether on the phone or in person.
  • Nonverbal communication: This involves body language, facial expressions, and gestures, and it is vital to being able to reinforce verbal communication. Hand gestures can help clarify complex verbal instructions, for example. It’s also used to promote a certain tone, such as by smiling at clients rather than scowling at them.
  • Listening: Communication goes two ways. The ability to listen to others and understand them is key to effective communication in the workplace. Otherwise, its easy for problems or ideas to go unnoticed.
  • Negotiation: People don’t always agree. Additionally, someone may make a request to a supervisor or ask a favor of a coworker. It’s key for supervisors and direct reports to be able to negotiate effectively. This helps promote fairness and prevent sour feelings in the workplace.
  • Problem solving: Whether it’s a kink in a product, a complaint from a client, or a dispute between employees, problems need to be solved as fairly and effectively as possible. The ability to assess complex problems, discuss them, and find a solution is key to success in a business administration role.
  • Decision making: Decisions may involve trivial matters (Where should we go for lunch?) or weighty issues (Should we implement this new technology in our billing processes?). Minor decisions can usually be made intuitively, but major ones will usually warrant research and discussion. Nevertheless, they should not be delayed—time is often of the essence.
  • Assertiveness: Being assertive means you stand up for your rights and those of others. It is making yourself heard. When discussing issues with others or responding to requests, assertiveness commands attention and respect in a positive way. This is important when communicating information to coworkers, direct reports, and clients.

A business administration degree can help you develop the interpersonal skills you need to be successful in the workplace. This will allow you to contribute to a company in a positive way and secure future advancement.