Helping People Work With People

Reasons For and Against Using Effective Interpersonal Skills In the Workplace

by Larry Cole, Ph.D.,

Michael Cole, Ph.D., and

Byrd Baggett, CSP


For twenty plus years we’ve worked with thousands of employees to assist using interpersonal skills to maximize their working relationships. Throughout these years, there has not been one person who has disagreed to the importance of having a workplace characterized by trust, teamwork, open communication, respect, and integrity (to name a few leadership/teamwork values). A more complete listing of values and behaviors are listed in Smart People Work People Smart (log onto or you may contact the authors for a copy of the TeamWork Dictionary).

In spite of the universal agreement of the importance of these workplace values, people continue to struggle to consistently use specific interpersonal skills in their day-to-day interactions. This mystery is complicated by the fact that employees readily admit these behaviors are already available within their behavioral repertoire.

For example, a cornerstone to building trust is being dependable and doing what you agreed to do. A communication behavior that also builds trust is keeping people informed with facts. Ask yourself “Can you be dependable and do what you agree to do?” “Can you keep people informed with the facts of the situation?” One would think these behaviors would consistently be used since they are readily available to everyone.

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