A few years back I came across one of the clearest reasoning as to why companies interview prospective candidates. Under that barrage of questions fired during an interview, the evaluators surprisingly, seek answers to a couple of questions only: Can they bear you? Can you bear them?
As years passed by, I have realised just how important that word ‘bear’ has become. Earlier, interviews were all about knowing whether a specific candidate had the requisite technical skills. However, a shift towards team-based culture has forced organisations to emphasise on interpersonal skills of prospective employees. This has gone a long way in defining the overall ‘work’ culture within organisations. In today’s times, it is essential for prospects to wield a strong interpersonal connect. Below we shall discuss some of the important interpersonal skills:
Communication remains the most essential skillset a professional should possess. Inefficient communication can cause escalation of avoidable issues and lead to friction within the team. While listening skills are easy to overlook, they form a precursor for successful application of communication skills. Verbal communication, through reading / writing / comprehension should project clarity in understanding of the issue at hand. Non-verbal communication like tone of voice and body language are much more subtle and can be a powerful tool as one grows in their profession. Successful professionals have mastered the art of using these skills simultaneously and in correct measure to put across their points.
While we aim to excel in a competitive environment, it is quintessential to manage one’s emotions and be aware of other’s emotions as well. A strong emotional quotient indicates a higher understanding of various perspectives. Such a professional will develop good relations with not only their team members but also their customers. In fact, in most customer-facing roles, emotional quotient can be a key differentiating factor between a great and an average service. It is no surprise then that managers with a higher emotional quotient tend to create happier teams.
While working in teams, it is common to have a difference of opinion. The key is to keep one’s focus on finding win-win solutions rather than pulling down the other party. In such circumstances, the ability to mediate a dispute and bring about resolutions is essential. While resolving conflicts, one has to stay away from conflict amplifying factors and work towards an agreeable solution. One can engage any of the following conflict management styles for successful resolution – Integrating, Avoiding, Compromising, Collaborating and Dominating. While the first three styles are more docile and concerned with accepting the other party’s line of thought, the remaining two are a shift towards being the aggressor and sticking to one’s point of view. In the practical world, it would bode well to start with a more docile conflict resolution strategy before spending time and money that the dominating styles would demand in terms of – say, litigations.
Relationship building and management
How many of us are still in touch with our earliest managers? How many among us have a good rapport with every member of our team? With the professional world getting closer courtesy of LinkedIn, it is advisable to manage one’s professional relationships well, especially with the mentors. At EDHEC, we always urge our students to nurture such relationships. Often, these connections provide vital push to one’s career. Building the trust factor among clients and vendors takes time. Mind you, there is a difference between building relationships and managing them. While the former is an everyday task, the latter is a lifelong process which shall make one’s career fruitful.
Self-confidence and influencing skills
Being self-confident helps one perform to the best of their abilities. This is an essential trait and professionals should nurture it. Self-confident professionals are quick learners, enterprising and risk-takers. They know exactly what they want from their careers and go about setting up themselves for higher challenges. Owing to their enterprising nature, they are good in influencing opposing parties to a mutually agreeable solution. Additionally, self-confident professionals make awesome mentors and are the first to help lagging teammates gain ground.
Organisations value integrity, honesty and discipline within prospective employees. These principles help build harmony and trust within the teams. In fact, teammates would be vary of those who do not follow such principles. Ensuring quality of work, timely project submissions, disciplined approach and respecting fellow colleagues remain some of the key positives followed by successful professionals. Such employees keep the larger picture in sight and work through cooperation to achieve it. This disciplined lifestyle rubs onto other team members, creating a strong bond within the team. Human Resources personnel view these professionals as an asset and role-models for the rest.
Coming back to importance of that word ‘bear’ mentioned earlier in the article, professionals should look at becoming an irreplaceable part of their teams. Technical expertise is of course essential but nurturing such an ‘attitude’ takes time. Interpersonal skills discussed above can get you started on that journey.
Nilesh Gaikwad is Country Manager at EDHEC Business School, France and can be reached at