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People skills

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According to the Portland Business Journal, people skills are often described as:
  • understanding ourselves and moderating our responses
  • talking effectively and empathizing
    Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B...

  • building relationships of trust
    Trust may refer to:* Trust , reliance on another person or entity-Business and legal:* Trust law, an arrangement in which property is managed by one person or entity for the benefit of another...

    , respect
    Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity , and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected...

     and productive interactions.

A British definition is “the ability to communicate effectively with people in a friendly way, especially in business.” The term is not listed yet in major US dictionaries.

The term people skills is used to include both psychological skills and social skills
Social skills
A social skill is any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning such skills is called socialization...

, but is less inclusive than life skills
Life skills
Life skills are problem solving behaviors used appropriately and responsibly in the management of personal affairs. They are a set of human skills acquired via teaching or direct experience that are used to handle problems and questions commonly encountered in daily human life...



Guidelines relating to people skills have been recorded from very early times. Two examples of early human guidelines can be found in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

. Firstly in Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

 19:18 it says: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against your people, but love your neighbor as yourself” and secondly from Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

’s wisdom in Proverbs
Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...

 15:1 it says: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” However the Bible also condemns 'flattery
Flattery is the act of giving excessive compliments, generally for the purpose of ingratiating oneself with the subject....

' (Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...


Human relations studies became a movement in the 1920s, as companies became more interested in the “soft skills
Soft skills
Soft skills is a sociological term relating to a person's "EQ" , the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people...

" and interpersonal skills of employees. In organizations, improving people skills became a specialized role of the corporate trainer
Corporate trainer
A corporate trainer is a specialized skill development position in a corporation where the goal is to help improve the performance of the employees. The performance areas can range from "soft skills" or "people skills" to “hard skills” relating to specific technical tasks. The term is generic and...

. By the mid-1930s, Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie
Dale Breckenridge Carnegie was an American writer, lecturer, and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills...

 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
Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

, communication and social interaction. These encompassed psychologist Thomas Gordon
Thomas Gordon
Thomas Gordon may refer to:* Thomas Gordon , American lawyer and politician of the colonial period, see New Jersey Attorney General* Thomas Gordon , British writer...

’s “Effectiveness Training” variations as well as many other training programs. By the 1980s, "traditional education
Traditional education
Traditional education or back-to-basics refers to long-established customs found in schools that society has traditionally deemed appropriate. Some forms of education reform promote the adoption of progressive education practices, a more holistic approach which focuses on individual students'...

" and a “back-to-basics” three Rs
The three Rs
The three Rs are the foundations of a basic skills-orientated education program within schools: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.The phrase is attributed to a toast given by Sir William Curtis around 1825...

 emphasis largely pushed aside these programs, with notable exceptions.

Educational importance/impact

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

UNESCO research found that young people who develop speaking/listening skills and getting to know other's have improved self-awareness, social-emotional adjustment and classroom behavior; self-destructive and violent behavior also were decreased.
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.

See also

  • Communication skills training
    Communication skills training
    Various types and forms of the Group Communication Skills Training are used all over the world for those who are trying to improve their communication skills. Thousands of books and articles devoted to these topics are published every year...

  • Emotional and/or behavioral disability
    Emotional and/or behavioral disability
    An emotional and/or behavioral disability is a disability that impacts a person's ability to effectively recognize, interpret and express fundamental emotions. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 characterizes the group of disabilites as Emotional Disturbance...

  • Emotional intelligence
    Emotional intelligence
    Emotional intelligence is a skill or ability in the case of the trait EI model, a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. Various models and definitions have been proposed of which the ability and trait EI models are the most...

  • Empathy
    Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B...

  • Life Skills-Based Education
    Life Skills-Based Education
    Life skills have been defined by the World Health Organization as “abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”...

  • Social skill

Further reading

External links