The Most Important Interpersonal Skills for a Successful Career

The Most Important Interpersonal Skills for a Successful Career

Gone are the days where we can lock ourselves up in an office and avoid people. More and more companies are going towards open plan spaces and promoting transparency, collective work and communication. As an introvert, one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my career was working with so many people. My type of socializing is to have everyone in one room so we can all read our favourite books without having to talk.

But that’s unrealistic in this world, especially when the current system is set up for extroverts as Susan Cain, the author of the book Quiet, says.

Funnily enough, today, I run retreats, events and workshops and spend days with hundreds of people – training many on mindset, leadership and business. If I had known what I know today when it comes to interpersonal skills, especially as an introvert, my life would have been a lot more easier.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, if you’re someone who’s hungry for growth and striving to climb up the ladder, in this post, I’ll share with you the most important interpersonal skills you need to have to create not only a successful career but also a fulfilling one.

Awareness of Your Own Voice and Behaviors

Whenever I hear conversations from saving ducks crossing the road to war, crime and economic crisis, I always bring it back to self-awareness. At the end of the day, whether it’s about career success or major crisis in the world, it always start with us – humans. As humans, we have the power and the advantage to do things other species in the world can’t do. And that’s self-awareness – bringing it back to the first practical step we can take.

Self-awareness is the weapon of the next generation leaders, the awakened ones and the heart-led way-seers. It’s about having the emotional intelligence (EQ) and understanding how our internal reality (values, beliefs and thoughts) can influence our external reality (actions and reactions from others).


We’ve been listening to the media, news and others for so long that we’ve forgotten to listen to our internal voice, gut feeling, intuitive clarity and the connection with God, if you will. So when we start to pay attention to our thoughts, we become self-aware. And when we become self-aware, rather than re-acting, we’re now presented with choices on how we respond to situations.

As Viktor Frankl said,

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Confidence to Take on Challenges

I see many people going round and round in the vicious cycle of lack of confidence and wanting to achieve goals. I feel that self-confidence is a bit overrated today. Yes we need it for success and yes that will help us create so many opportunities but let’s take a pause and go back to the basics.

Where does it come from? Lack of self-confidence can stem from having been programmed since young by others that we’re not good enough, not fully understanding the task we’re doing, actively creating stories in our head that are not beneficial for us and not having mastery in that particular area. Most importantly, when we say we don’t have the confidence, most of the time we’re comparing ourselves to someone else by minimising ourselves and putting them on the pedestal.

So what if we forget for a moment, the whole pressure of needing to have the confidence, and rather just focus on the task in front of us and get really good at it? Mastery takes time and mastery takes practice. But by taking action and creating consistent practice, we also develop confidence along the way. Win-win-win? Yes please.


Communicate Through Words and Actions

The communication methods we’ve been taught have gotten us this far. However, we’re now at a time where people are asking for authenticity, vulnerability and speaking from the heart. This is an opportunity for us to start changing the way we communicate with others so we all can become more real with each other and more connected with our heart. And that communication is not only communicating from words, gestures or tones, it’s also about communicating energetically.

It’s not news that we’re made of up energy and the ‘vibe’ the we feel from others is the electromagnetic frequency that’s emitted from the heart. Back in 1993, a social science study was done where 4000 meditators gathered to meditate, and there was a 23.3% drop in crime rate in Washington DC.

Overall in the world, there are more people practicing mindfulness meditation now than ever before. More and more people are going to the retreats and jungles. We’re becoming more empathetic and we’re starting to feel more. That means when we meet with others, both virtually and physically, we’ve already communicated a large chunk of information through our energy before the words are even said.

But where does that energy come from? Our emotions.

As you already know, our thoughts create feelings, feelings create emotions and emotions create energy, and then leads to our behaviours. Therefore, a big part of our communication relies on our thoughts. So when we’re dealing with others, it’s important that we’re in the right state of mind so that we can convey a message congruently through both our words and actions.

Listen to Understand

Dale Carnegie, the author of How To Win Friends and Influence People, says that people love to talk – especially about themselves. People want to be heard. When we’re fully present and listen attentively with the intent to understand, that’s one of the quickest ways to win friends and influence people.


As an introvert, one of my strengths has always been listening. Since young, I have always been the go-to person among my friends for them to seek counsel. When I was in my corporate career, I was one of the most trusted people by the senior management. Now today in my coaching and training business, my clients share about the secrets that they’ve never told people that are holding them back in their lives.

One of the few things people tend to do when someone else is speaking is jumping in before they finish and jumping to conclusions. And also listening but not remembering what they’re saying. Presence is importance when we listen. In order to be present, we must have the willingness to listen with the intent to understand rather than listen with the intent to respond.

Negotiate and Persuade for a Positive Cause

In any type of career, these are one of the essential skills that will allow you to be able to influence others with the direction that you want to take. However, in order for us to be able to negotiate and persuade others, we need to have the first four traits so we can come from a place of empathy and compassion.

Ability to speak up and speak our truth is also important here. Many people – especially women – from my experience, have trouble asking for what they want and persuade without getting emotional. It’s important that we have the desired result in mind while we’re going this process but at the same time, have the ability to remain unattached to the outcome.

Brian Tracy, world renowned motivational speaker, says that the only difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is the ability to follow through. When it’s time to present our opinions and speak up, we do this a lot in our heads but we don’t take action. When we’re negotiating and persuading others, it’s a critical skill to hold space ourselves, present ourselves with confidence, speak with facts, negotiate with empathy and follow through with our intentions.

Lead Yourself First Before Anyone Else

There are many aspects to hone in on our leadership skills. Today, I’d like to come from a perspective where we do the introspective inquiry work. In the book Shakti Leadership, one of the best selling books on leadership, it says that we need to acknowledge and make the fragmented parts of ourselves whole in order to lead successfully. Ken Wilber, a well-known writer on transpersonal psychology, is also well-known for this process where we look at different identities of ourselves.


For example, we have the Control Freak, the Seeker, the Visionary, the Driver and the Wounded Self. There are more identities out there but let’s stick to these five parts. The Control Freak will always want to make sure she gets everything according to her way and get everything perfect. But the Driver will just focus on making things happen. Even just looking at these two parts, when they exist within our mind and there will be conflict and stress.

In my Leadership workshops, I tackle leadership from self introspection perspective because at the end of the day, if we can’t lead ourselves, how can we lead others successfully? If we don’t have empathy and clarity towards ourselves, how can we show that to others?

As a leader, we need to get our ‘inner’ team right first. That means, we need to negotiate with all parts of ourselves in a way that we can work in harmonious ways. In fact, I just did this exercise with one of my clients, who is an Executive Coach. She’s a perfectionist who has to get things right before she can get things done. That means, she can never get things done without conflict within herself because the Perfectionist in her needs to take time to make sure everything is right.

However, the Driver within herself gets extremely frustrated because she can’t get things done quick. We dug deep and did some work. Eventually we were able to lead all parts of herself. The Perfectionist finally decided to step back until the projects are completed by the Driver so she can come in and do the final check. Now everyone’s happy.

In order to lead a successful career, we must first be able to lead within ourselves, know ourselves and understand all parts of ourselves.

Small Shifts Within Profound Great Shifts Externally

There are many other areas that we can look at but if we just focus on these points now, that will allow you to hone in on your interpersonal skills. At the end of the day, people around us are the mirror reflection of ourselves. Therefore, when we start to make these shifts within ourself internally, then we will be able to start seeing positive and profound shifts in our external reality.

More by this author

Arabelle Yee

International Speaker, Life & Business Strategist, High-Performance Coach

Arabelle Yee The Most Important Interpersonal Skills for a Successful Career

Trending in Smartcut

1 10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team 2 Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out 3 How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter 4 Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It 5 Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?

Read Next


Last Updated on November 15, 2018

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

What do you think it takes to achieve your goals? Hard work? Lots of actions? While these are paramount to becoming successful in reaching our goals, neither of these are possible without a positive mindset.

As humans, we naturally tend to lean towards a negative outlook when it comes to our hopes and dreams. We are prone to believing that we have limitations either from within ourselves or from external forces keeping us from truly getting to where we want to be in life. Our tendency to think that we’ll “believe it when we see it” suggests that our mindsets are focused on our goals not really being attainable until they’ve been achieved. The problem with this is that this common mindset fuels our limiting beliefs and shows a lack of faith in ourselves.

The Success Mindset

Success in achieving our goals comes down to a ‘success mindset’. Successful mindsets are those focused on victory, based on positive mental attitudes, empowering inclinations and good habits. Acquiring a success mindset is the sure-fire way to dramatically increase your chance to achieve your goals.


The idea that achieving our goals comes down to our habits and actions is actually a typical type of mindset that misses a crucial point; that our mindset is, in fact, the determiner of our energy and what actions we take. A negative mindset will tend to create negative actions and similarly if we have a mindset that will only set into action once we see ‘proof’ that our goals are achievable, then the road will be much longer and arduous. This is why, instead of thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it”, a success mindset will think “I’ll see it when I believe it.”

The Placebo Effect and What It Shows Us About The Power of Mindset

The placebo effect is a perfect example of how mindset really can be powerful. In scientific trials, a group of participants were told they received medication that will heal an ailment but were actually given a sugar pill that does nothing (the placebo). Yet after the trial the participants believed it’s had a positive effect – sometimes even cured their ailment even though nothing has changed. This is the power of mindset.

How do we apply this to our goals? Well, when we set goals and dreams how often do we really believe they’ll come to fruition? Have absolute faith that they can be achieved? Have a complete unwavering expectation? Most of us don’t because we hold on to negative mindsets and limiting beliefs about ourselves that stop us from fully believing we are capable or that it’s at all possible. We tend to listen to the opinions of others despite them misaligning with our own or bow to societal pressures that make us believe we should think and act a certain way. There are many reasons why we possess these types of mindsets but a success mindset can be achieved.


How To Create a Success Mindset

People with success mindsets have a particular way of perceiving things. They have positive outlooks and are able to put faith fully in their ability to succeed. With that in mind, here are a few ways that can turn a negative mindset into a successful one.

1. A Success Mindset Comes From a Growth Mindset

How does a mindset even manifest itself? It comes from the way you talk to yourself in the privacy of your own head. Realising this will go a long way towards noticing how you speak to yourself and others around you. If it’s mainly negative language you use when you talk about your goals and aspirations then this is an example of a fixed mindset.

A negative mindset brings with it a huge number of limiting beliefs. It creates a fixed mindset – one that can’t see beyond it’s own limitations. A growth mindset sees these limitations and looks beyond them – it finds ways to overcome obstacles and believes that this will result in success. When you think of your goal, a fixed mindset may think “what if I fail?” A growth mindset would look at the same goal and think “failures happen but that doesn’t mean I won’t be successful.”


There’s a lot of power in changing your perspective.

2. Look For The Successes

It’s really important to get your mind focused on positive aspects of your goal. Finding inspiration through others can be really uplifting and keep you on track with developing your success mindset; reinforcing your belief that your dreams can be achieved. Find people that you can talk with about how they achieved their goals and seek out and surround yourself with positive people. This is crucial if you’re learning to develop a positive mindset.

3. Eliminate Negativity

You can come up against a lot of negativity sometimes either through other people or within yourself. Understanding that other people’s negative opinions are created through their own fears and limiting beliefs will go a long way in sustaining your success mindset. But for a lot of us, negative chatter can come from within and these usually manifest as negative words such as can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. Sometimes, when we think of how we’re going to achieve our goals, statements in our minds come out as negative absolutes: ‘It never works out for me’ or ‘I always fail.’


When you notice these coming up you need to turn them around with ‘It always works out for me!’ and ‘I never fail!’ The trick is to believe it no matter what’s happened in the past. Remember that every new day is a clean slate and for you to adjust your mindset.

4. Create a Vision

Envisioning your end goal and seeing it in your mind is an important trait of a success mindset. Allowing ourselves to imagine our success creates a powerful excitement that shouldn’t be underestimated. When our brain becomes excited at the thought of achieving our goals, we become more committed, work harder towards achieving it and more likely to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

If this involves creating a vision board that you can look at to remind yourself every day then go for it. Small techniques like this go a long way in sustaining your success mindset and shouldn’t be dismissed.

An Inspirational Story…

For centuries experts said that running a mile in under 4 minutes was humanly impossible. On the 6th May 1954, Rodger Bannister did just that. As part of his training, Bannister relentlessly visualised the achievement, believing he could accomplish what everyone said wasn’t possible…and he did it.

What’s more amazing is that, as soon as Bannister achieved the 4-minute mile, more and more people also achieved it. How was this possible after so many years of no one achieving it? Because in people’s minds it was suddenly possible – once people knew that it was achievable it created a mindset of success and now, after over fifty years since Bannister did the ‘impossible’, his record has been lowered by 17 seconds – the power of the success mindset!

Read Next