Top Performer Perspective: Human Interaction Skills—Should You Spend Time Improving Them?
If, as we have been arguing, human interaction skills are critical to workplace success, then what should people who aspire to excellence do? Conventional wisdom says our innate personalities drive our ability to interact with others in the workplace. We are who we are—we just have to accept that. But what if this conventional wisdom is wrong and is serving simply as a convenient excuse for poor outcomes in this area? What if we can move some of those innate human interaction behaviors in a positive direction?
The media constantly reminds us that reading proficiency is strongly correlated with overall academic performance as well as our well-being as adults. Yet a recent study from Pew Research—Who Doesn’t Read Books in America?—finds that one quarter of Americans did not read a single book in the past twelve months. As authors of a book we hope people read and enjoy, that statistic is pretty depressing. But it also raises a more significant question: if people don’t read, how will they improve their reading skills and glean at least some of the insights possible from reading?
We believe the same principle applies to human interaction skills. If people don’t make it a point to interact with other people in the workplace, then how will they improve their human interaction skills? If you want to improve your relationship-building skills, build relationships. Of course, we’re not asserting that it’s easy. It’s not. In fact, it’s quite difficult. When relationships don’t come naturally, voluntarily taking the difficult actions required to develop and nurture new relationships is often painful.
But looking back at the list of differentiators between top and average performers and realizing that so many of them are related to human interaction skills, we are confident that the pain is worth it!
Question to ponder:
- What have you done recently to develop your ability to interact with those around you at new levels?