There are a lot of posts on social media sites regarding interpersonal skills, but what exactly are interpersonal skills and how can they impact our work as IT Professionals?

Generally, interpersonal skills are defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, attributes such as empathy, compassion, active listening, understanding and respect. They also include such traits as having a positive attitude, strong work ethic, unbridled motivation and problem-solving abilities. Hard skills, on the other hand, are the technical skills that are learnt through education, training and experience, for example, how to deploy a server, effectively manage a project or build a reporting platform.

There is little to be gained by having knowledge without influence. The responsibility falls to the individual IT professional to ensure success, and interpersonal skills are just as important in the employee’s tool kit as the hard-technical skills. Our true value doesn’t come from just working with boxes and wires, it comes from when we interact with people and provide them with the opportunities and solutions to solve their problems. We are the influencers and interpersonal skills are our keys to success!

For example, when writing the business requirements for an upcoming project, a Business Analyst will meet and engage with various stakeholders throughout a business. The Business Analyst may be technically adept at what they do, but without interpersonal skills, the interactions can become cold and clinical, resulting in no open engagement with the stakeholder and the production of a substandard business case putting the entire project at risk. Strong interpersonal skills however, such as asking open and positive questions, actively listening and respecting the stakeholders as subject matter experts in their domain provides an active information exchange, instils confidence on both sides of the engagement and produces a better outcome for all involved. Not only that, it becomes an enjoyable experience!

IT projects can be notoriously difficult if not properly managed with a hisignificant chance of failure that can involve change for those involved, triggering a range of responses and emotions with fear being common. Interpersonal skills allow the IT professional to put themselves in the stakeholder’s shoes and instil understanding and empathy in these situations to allay any sense of fear. With fear out of the way, project teams can focus on ensuring their projects are successful and deliver exactly what their clients need.

The team at PS+C Glass endeavour to empathise as a priority on all client engagements, ensuring our success is built on positive open relationships with our clients, partners and their employees.