Interpersonal Management Skills – Part 1

Decades ago I worked for a database marketing firm that implemented an excellent Interpersonal Management Skills training program, for ALL of its staff.

After attending the multi-day workshop and apparently modeling the skills effectively, I was asked to “suit up” and deliver future installments of the program to the remainder of staff.

Given that project management is a people-oriented profession, I’d suggest these skills are absolutely crucial to success in the field. In addition, I’ve found these skills make a big (HUGE) difference in how I engage and communicate with others: not only in my professional but personal life as well. As such, I thought it important to share an overview of the skills here.

In short, this multi-day training program covered the following Interpersonal Management Skills.

  • Clarifying and Confirming
  • Constructive Criticism
  • Managing Differences
  • Crediting
  • Discussion Skills

We’ll now cover the first skill area…

Clarifying and Confirming

Use: to uncover essential information; to let others know that you listen to and value their ideas; to make better judgments and decisions.

The first step is to obtain clarity on any information shared that is important but may not be 100% clear.

In response to someone’s statement needing clarity, I might say something like: You said you were going to do this, but not that…Does this mean that this is also included, or not? The objective here is to ensure we understand what was said while also pushing the boundaries to make sure we didn’t miss anything that wasn’t explicitly stated.

Once clarity has “seemingly” been established, it is time to confirm the entirety of what was said…

One of the most common phrases you’ll hear me utter in meetings begins with: Just to confirm, you said the following… is that correct? If I should get a response that is anything short of affirmative, I’ll ask the person to repeat what they said (in different words, if necessary) and I’ll again attempt to confirm using my own words. I’ll repeat this cycle until I get an emphatic “Yes, you’ve got it.”

By taking the above approach to clarify and/or confirm information shared, we have let the other person know we value their input, what they are sharing is important and we want to make sure we get it right. Once we’ve done so, we are standing on a solid foundation (being that we are on the same page) to proceed with the conversation, decisions and/or actions needed.

The alternative would be to proceed without doing so which could result in making decisions based on an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the information conveyed. Such a waste when we simply could have taken the time to clarify and confirm from the beginning…

In future posts we’ll cover the remaining Interpersonal Management Skills, all of which are crucial to a high performing project manager as well as to anyone who must get things done with and through other people. And, wouldn’t that apply to all of us?

In the meantime, if there is one statement that provides the best advice I could share on interpersonal management, it would be: It is not what you say, but how you say it! If we model that simple guidance in EVERY interaction we have with others, it will go a TREMENDOUS way in establishing and maintaining harmonious communications and relationships.

In closing, if you are looking to improve PM capabilities in yourself, or organization, feel free to reach out so that we can discuss how I can help!

Click here to go to part 2 of Interpersonal Mangement Skills.

Click here to return to our topical index of articles on High Performance Project Management.

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