The Japanese Tea Ceremony signifies that every human encounter is a singular occasion which can never recur again in exactly the same way. Imagine how much better our interactions with other individuals would be if every human encounter were treated with this sort of reverence and importance.
Social competence is typically developed in childhood. “Peers are thought to teach and prepare each other for later life in ways that adults do not” (Perry & Bussey, p.295). In addition, “[t]he kinds of relationships children enjoy at home with their families influence their competence in their peer group” (Perry & Bussey, p.314). Prior to 1995, there were very few schools in the U.S. that had a program specifically for teaching interpersonal skills to children. By 2005, thousands of schools worldwide offered programs in “social and emotional learning” (SEL). In the U.S. many districts and even entire states made SEL a curriculum requirement mandating that students must attain a certain level of competence. For more details on these types of programs, see the Introduction to Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence (2005 edition).
Interpersonal skills are becoming more and more important in the workplace (e.g., Johanson & Fried, 2002; Yancey, 2001). Within a decade, high school graduates should begin to enter the work force who have participated in SEL programs around the U.S.; however, anyone in the work force who graduated from high school prior to 1995 will not have received training, or been tested for competencies, related to interpersonal skills. Yancey, Clarkson, Baxa, and Clarkson (2003) suggest that the following interpersonal competencies are important: effective communication, the ability to accurately interpret others' emotions, sensitivity to others' feelings, strong conflict resolution skills, and politeness. If someone is lacking these skills, they are at a disadvantage in the workplace and socially. If they are lucky, a supervisor or co-worker might give them some honest feedback on areas for improvement but this is not the norm. The onus for identifying needs or testing skills is completely on each individual person and usually does not occur until after they are already out in the workforce.
Look out – it may get ugly!
The first step in self-testing is to be prepared for distasteful results. In many cases, the areas in need of work are not only non-visible, but shocking to discover. The most common types of self-assessment tests are the following:
Personality tests (e.g., Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Keirsey Temperament)
Emotional Intelligence (or Emotional IQ – e.g., BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory)
Team Player/Building Skills (e.g., Parker Team Player Survey)
There are interactive Internet quizzes for all sorts of skills; a few of my favorite sites are listed below. Also, try looking in a favorite web search engine using “self-assessment” and one of the above types of tests (e.g., self-assessment and coping skills). Many of the results will be from companies trying to make money providing these tests to corporations – so they often provide “teasers” and will give an abbreviated version to get you interested in paying for a full test with analysis of results. The best tests will also provide tips for improvement in the areas that score the lowest. As many of the pages are likely to state, these are not all scientifically sound “complete” tests. Each has strengths and weaknesses and some are more peculiar than others; however, the results (if taken collectively) can show trends in certain areas.
BetterWorkplaceNow.com - check out the links under “Insight and Inspiration” as well as “Laugh and Learn.”
Information on Self-Efficacy – lots of general information and links – sometimes loads a little slowly – have patience J
Personality Tests & Resources – St. Mary’s University Academic Library
Psycho-Geometrics – a somewhat off-beat but interesting self-assessment tool. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the I.T. Serve button to start test.
PsychTests.com – demo versions are available for most tests – some tests require you to sign up.
Self Assessment Center – some free and some pay-for-use online assessments
This list is semi-regularly added to on my del.icio.us page for interpersonal skills.
Albrecht, Karl. Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006.
The author looks at perceptiveness, situational savvy, and interaction skills as keys to success at work and in life. Chapter 7, “Assessing and Developing SI,” is particularly relevant and includes self-assessment exercises, tips and priorities for improvements.
DeVito, Joseph A. Interpersonal Messages: Communication and Relationship Skills. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.
Intended for use as a textbook, this book also serves an excellent tool for self-assessment. Scattered throughout individual sections of this book are skill-building exercises and quizzes to test your own areas of strength and weakness. The text is very up-to-date and includes cell phone and e-talk.
Some material on this page taken from:
Goleman, Daniel. 2005. Emotional Intelligence. Tenth Anniversary Edition. New York: Bantam Books.
Johanson, John C., & Fried, Carrie B. 2002. Job training versus graduate school preparation: Are separate educational tracks warranted? Teaching of Psychology, v.29, no.3, p. 241-243.
Perry, David G., and Kay Bussey. 1984. Social Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Yancey, George. B. 2001. Job skills students need in today's world of work. Poster presented at the annual convention of the Southwestern Psychological Association, Houston, TX.
Yancey, George B., Clarkson, Chante P., Baxa, Julie D., & Clarkson, Rachel N. 2003. Examples of good and bad interpersonal skills at work. Eye on Psi Chi, v.7, 40-41. Available online at: http://www.psichi.org/pubs/articles/article_368.asp
Page created: December 12, 2004
Links checked: January 27, 2009
Last updated: January 27, 2009
©2009, Lorraine J. Pellack - Send questions or comments about this page