17 Crucial Interpersonal Skills You Must Cultivate for a Successful Life

Strong interpersonal skills are crucial to success, both in business and life in general. They help us navigate humanity’s greatest achievement: community.

Discover why developing strong social skills is vital to happiness, and learn how to cultivate them.

What Are Interpersonal Skills?

The term “interpersonal skills” encompasses various techniques used to get along with others.

It includes trust building, navigating conflict, empathy, and any other ability that helps you work well with others.

Interpersonal skills are commonly called social skills or people skills. They’re also referred to as soft skills, though that term technically describes a broader range of abilities than interpersonal skills.

 Those with natural talents in this area have high social and emotional intelligence.

Why Interpersonal Skills Are Vital to Success

Humans are social creatures. Our ability to work together helped us defeat nature. It allowed us to form civilizations, create specializations, and develop culture.

Humanity’s success throughout history arose from interpersonal skills, which remain vital today.

People with strong social skills have thriving social lives. They build supportive communities and cultivate lasting friendships.

Interpersonal skills are also crucial to career success. While most people can learn the technical skills required for a job—that’s what training is for—learning to fit in with the team, absorb the culture, be a team player, and identify a customer’s pain points is more challenging. 

Most companies don’t have time to teach folks these skills, so they’d rather hire someone with social intelligence who can figure it out independently.

17 Interpersonal Skills You Need To Cultivate

To succeed in business and life, you must develop these 17 crucial interpersonal skills.

Team Work

Teamwork is the ability to work alongside others to achieve a shared goal, an essential skill for success in every facet of life. 

There are two important aspects of teamwork.

First, you must contribute fairly to the team. Team players step up and do the work they need to do to ensure the entire team’s success. They complete their tasks on time and help their colleagues where they can.

However, teamwork also includes recognizing everyone else’s value. Team players appreciate other people’s contributions, celebrate their successes, and work to build up everyone on their team.


Successful people excel at communication. They know how to find the right words in every situation and communicate their message in a way their audience understands.

The ability to clearly state your message, both orally and in writing, ensures that people understand what you want and how you intend to help them.

Non-Verbal Communication

Communication is far more than talking. An understated yet equally vital social skill is all the non-verbals that go into communicating.

Everything from body language to tone sends a message. If you want to be successful with people, you need to know how you’re coming across non-verbally, but you must also be able to read them. 

Most people put up walls, but if you can see what they’re saying when they aren’t saying it, you can break those walls down and build a stronger relationship.


Empathy is one of humanity’s greatest strengths. It allows us to view the world from someone else’s perspective, giving us vital insight into why they think and behave the way they do.

Empathy allows us to understand others and connect with them. It’s the foundation of strong relationships.

Active Listening

When you’re talking to someone, do you hear what they have to say, or are you simply waiting for your turn to speak?

For most of us, it’s the latter. It takes effort to shut off your own brain and fully pay attention to what someone else is saying. Active listening forces us to do that.


People crave positivity. They want to feel uplifted and happy. They’ll eventually cut folks out of their social group who constantly bring the vibe down.

Embrace positivity, and if you can’t, listen to your mother’s wise words: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Self Awareness

Knowing yourself is a massive boon to your social acuity. People who can’t see that they’re the problem sabotage themselves in social settings. Their behavior turns others off, but they play the victim because they refuse to understand where they went wrong.

Using introspection to view and accept your own flaws is painful, but it’s essential for building the interpersonal skills you need for success. Self-awareness will help you grow as a person, and it will show others that you’re aware of your imperfections and working through them.

Boundary Setting

Most social skills involve relating to others and ensuring they feel comfortable around you. Setting boundaries is all about protecting yourself. Letting people walk all over you is not the key to building lasting relationships.

Setting boundaries allows you to create a protective barrier over yourself, showing others that you refuse to accept certain behaviors. Having solid boundaries indicates self-respect, which fosters respect among others.


Things rarely go according to plan. People make mistakes; flights get canceled, and restaurants sell out of your favorite dish. The world seldom accommodates.

You must adapt and go with the flow when things change. If you’re so rigid that you can’t accept the number one rule of reality (things change), people won’t want to be around you.


Patience is a virtue. It helps you understand that the world can’t cater to you. There are 8 billion people on this planet, and you aren’t more important than any of them.

Knowing when to wait your turn, giving others grace, and accepting that sometimes the pace will be slower than you want will help you become the person people want to be around.


Society values trust. Nobody wants to hang around with or hire liars, cheaters, or thieves.  But it’s far deeper than that.

When you build trust with others, you show them they can rely on you. You’re going to do what you say you will. You won’t judge them when they confide in you. They’re comfortable showing vulnerability to you because they know it’s safe.


Respect is fundamental to any social interaction, but far too many people get it wrong.

Many people use “respect” to describe some form of authority. They think if they’re somehow “above” another person in wealth, social status, or any other imagined hierarchy, they’re more worthy of respect, and they won’t treat the person with basic human dignity unless they feel the person is respecting their elevated position.

Respect is showing that you value another human simply because they are human. It’s understanding that they’re a person, just like you, and they deserve to be treated with dignity. It has nothing to do with status.

Conflict Resolution

Everyone has a different background and unique perspective. These differences lead to conflict – there’s no avoiding it.

Learning how to navigate and manage conflict is crucial to success. Learning conflict management helps us navigate the complex feelings arising when people disagree.


Influencing people is about getting them on your side. Everything we do in social settings relates to influencing people. When we first meet folks, we influence them to like us. At job interviews, we influence managers to hire us.

Some people take it too far, turning the essential skill into a manipulation tactic to always get their way, often to someone else’s detriment. Understanding the difference between influencing and manipulation is paramount to social success.


In a perfect world, everything would go smoothly all the time, and you would never have to fix any hiccups.

We don’t live in a perfect world. Problems constantly arise. Learning how to solve them without panicking will propel you to social stardom.

Problem-solving isn’t about always having the answer – that’s impossible. You can’t prepare for every eventuality. Instead, it’s about keeping calm in a crisis, thinking on your feet, and making a decision.

Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is becoming more crucial than ever in our global society. Knowing how to navigate cultural differences will make you indispensable in personal relationships and work. 

For example, western cultures value eye contact as a show of respect, while Eastern cultures tend to look away to show respect. Knowing this crucial cultural difference can help you understand body language and avoid misunderstandings.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows you to read a room. You can tell whether your jokes will resonate or if people are uncomfortable just by watching them and understanding their reactions.

People with high emotional intelligence can understand what others feel. They know when to joke, when to help, and how to interact to make everyone feel at ease.

How To Develop Interpersonal Skills

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Some pretend that social skills are engrained – you either have it or you don’t.

While they come more naturally to some, that doesn’t mean those without them are destined to a life of solitude.

With a little effort,  you can learn these skills.

Here’s what to do if you struggle with interpersonal interactions.

Take Online Courses

Linkedin Learning has many online courses to help you develop interpersonal skills. The platform hosts courses in emotional intelligence, communication, cultural awareness, and active listening.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these vital interpersonal skills, the first step is to take a course on them.


Self-help books abound to help you improve your social skills. These books help you deep dive into specific skills and often provide examples, exercises, and case studies to help you fully absorb the material.

Self-help books on nearly any topic, from influencing and negotiating to team building and conflict resolution, can be found at your local library.


Some people may have natural talents that help them build interpersonal skills with ease. However, most of us need to practice them to be successful.

You can start small by watching television shows about interpersonal conflict and considering how you would react. 

Then, put your skills to a real test by practicing in real life. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become. Soon, you’ll solve other people’s problems without even realizing you’re doing it!

Set Aside Your Ego

We are our own worst enemies, especially when it comes to positive social interactions. We often fail at interpersonal skills because we can’t see past our own noses to understand someone else’s experience.

For social success, you must set aside your ego. Social encounters are about the collective, not the individual. It’s not all about you, so let others speak, take a breath before getting defensive, and try to see the situation from everyone’s perspective.


If you have a few close friends or colleagues, you can ask them how you come across in social settings and seek their guidance on how your behavior impacts others. 

If you don’t have trusted associates, you can hire a life coach to help you navigate social settings. They can give you crucial advice for building stronger social skills.

You Can Develop Strong Interpersonal Skills

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, a people person or a loner, cultivating strong social skills is crucial to a fulfilling life.

Start practicing today; you’ll be astonished at how far you come in a short time.