User:PSY7/People skills

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The term people skills is used to include both psychological and social skills, but is less inclusive than “life skills.” According to the Business Journal News Service[1], people skills are often described as: (a) understanding ourselves and moderating our responses, (b) talking effectively and empathizing accurately, (c) building relationships of trust, respect and productive interactions. A British definition is “the ability to communicate effectively with people in a friendly way, especially in business.”[2] The term is not listed yet in major US dictionaries.[3][4]


Basic human relations guidelines relating to people skills have been recorded from very early times. Examples in the Old Testament are Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against your people, but love your neighbor as yourself” and Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”[5]

Human relations studies became a movement in the 1920s, as companies became more interested in the “soft skills" and interpersonal skills of employees. In organizations, improving people skills became a specialized role of the corporate trainer. By the mid-1930s, Dale Carnegie popularized people skills in How to Win Friends & Influence People and How to Stop Worrying & Start Living throughout America and later throughout the world.

In the 1960s, US schools introduced people skills topics and methods—often as a way to promote better self-esteem, communication and social interaction. These encompassed psychologist Thomas Gordon’s “Effectiveness Training” variations as well as many other training programs.[6] By the 1980s, "traditional education" and a “back-to-basics” 3 Rs emphasis largely pushed aside these programs,[7] with notable exceptions.[8]

Types of skills[edit]

People skills encompass a range of interpersonal and intrapersonal communication competencies[9][10]. In business and organizational human relations, the emphasis is on social-emotional awareness, self-presentation, management, getting along with others, negotiation, conflict resolution and decision-making.

Interpersonal communication skills include effective prosocial[11] interaction, empathy, understanding personalities and ability to work cooperatively as part of a group or team. Influential components are cultural awareness, conversational language and non-verbal communication.

The intrapersonal, or inner dimension, includes forms of self-communication and understanding personal emotions, goals and motivations. Self-regulation of attention and stress management skills depend largely on self-communication (inner imagery and self-talk).

Educational importance/impact[edit]

Over 50 percent of the deaths in the United States can be attributed to psychosocial[12] deficits in people skills for stress management and supportive social connection.[13] Business, labor and government authorities agree that wide-ranging people skills are necessary for 20th-century work success in the SCANS report.[14] At least one foundation, Alliances for Psychosocial Advancements in Learning (APAL), has made support of SCANS-related people skills a major priority.[15]

UNESCO research found that young people who develop speaking/listening skills have improved self-awareness, social-emotional adjustment and classroom behavior; self-destructive and violent behavior also were decreased.[16] The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified 22 programs in the US that are especially comprehensive in social-emotional learning coverage and effective in documented impacts.[17]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Rifkin, H. “Invest in people skills to boost bottom line” Retrieved on 2009-10-14
  2. ^ “Macmillan Dictionary” Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  3. ^ “” Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  4. ^ “” Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  5. ^ “New International Version Bible” Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  6. ^ Schaps, E.; Cohen, A.Y.; and Resnik, H.S.:“Balancing Head and Heart” PIRE. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  7. ^ Doll, R.C. “Humanizing Education by Improving Communication” ERIC. Retrieved on 2009-08-19
  8. ^ “Stop. Think. Act. Program” Learning Matters. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  9. ^ Flannes,S.; Levin, G.“Essential People Skills for Project Managers” Management Concepts. Retrieved on 2009-08-19
  10. ^ Dale Carnegie Training “The 5 Essential People Skills” Nightingale-Conant. Retrieved on 2009-10-14
  11. ^ Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  12. ^ http:// Retrieved on 2009-10-14
  13. ^ “Century of research confirms impact of psychosocial factors on health” APA. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  14. ^ “Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS)” US Dept. of Labor. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  15. ^ “Communications Connections” APAL. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  16. ^ “UNESCO Research” British Telecommunications. Retrieved on 2009-08-18
  17. ^ “CASEL "Select" Programs” Retrieved on 2009-08-18