How Having Strong Interpersonal Skills Helps You Thrive at Work

How Having Strong Interpersonal Skills Helps You Thrive at Work
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Interpersonal skills are more critical to your success than you may think.  They’re the workplace social skills that make someone want to hire you more than someone else who’s equally qualified.  So if you have strong interpersonal skills, you have a definite asset that will help your career.

Just what are the skills that are most useful for a career in the film industry?  That’s open to debate, but I’ll list the ones that, based on my experience, are the most helpful to your success.

Here are the seven interpersonal skills that I know will help you thrive:

  1. Being easy to get along with and skilled at managing relationships.

Managing relationships takes a level of maturity that many people lack.  It doesn’t necessarily have to do with age, either.  Our industry is full of temperamental creative personalities.

Those who can successfully manage relationships and get along with everyone are ahead of the game.  Bonus points if you don’t take all the craziness personally, show emotional maturity, and get on with your job in spite of it all.

  1. Having a positive attitude.

It’s not always easy to have a positive attitude, with long, stressful days on set.  It’s been even harder dealing with all the changes due to the pandemic.

That doesn’t mean we can’t still have a positive attitude at work.  If you’re able to stay positive in challenging circumstances, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

  1. Being dependable.

You may be surprised at how many people lack the quality of dependability.  Be someone who can be relied on to show up prepared every day, and people will notice.  Why?  Because so many other people aren't doing it.

Being dependable is more important than even your skill level.  Anyone can improve their skills, but if I can’t depend on you, it’s all for naught.

  1. Listening.

Listening seems so simple, yet so many people seem incapable of doing it.  Active listening while making eye contact indicates to others that you care what they have to say.  You also get valuable information by listening.

Yes, our attention spans have shortened with all the media overstimulation we receive.  But neglect the interpersonal skill of listening at your peril.

Also, be aware of body language when you’re listening.  Glaring at the speaker with your arms crossed communicates that you’re not open to hearing what they have to say.

Good listeners are prized and will thrive in any workplace.

  1. Working well as part of a team.

Yes, there are jobs in some fields where people work alone in isolation, but the film industry isn’t one of those fields. Instead, we all work as part of a team, whether our job is on set or off.  Filmmaking is a team effort.

The ability to work well as part of a team is crucial in our industry. Years ago, when I was an applicant to the DGA training program, they even had psychologists evaluate groups of us performing various assigned tasks to see how well we worked as a team.

By the end of the day, half the group was eliminated from consideration because they didn’t work well enough as part of a team.  Being able to work successfully as a team is always an asset in our industry.

Be a great team player, and you’ll find people will be eager to work with you again and again.

  1. Having good manners.

Being polite and considerate of others should be the norm in any workplace, but I can’t say it is in our industry.  Having good manners shows respect for others, and that includes radio chatter.

Rude, crude behavior will not help anyone’s career.  Practice proper set etiquette and be considerate in your talk and behavior.

It’s not hard to do, and you’ll be remembered for it.

  1. Communicating effectively.

We work in an industry where we’re sharing information across departments throughout the day.  That’s the only way we can complete the day’s work.  If you’ve ever worked with anyone who was a poor communicator, you know how much more difficult it makes other people’s jobs.

Effective communication is essential in every single department.  It goes hand in hand with listening.

If you can communicate clearly and effectively, that’s a definite asset.


If you’re experienced working in the industry, you know these interpersonal skills have already served you well.  Those just starting their industry careers would do well to cultivate them.

After all, we need every asset possible in our competitive industry.  Master these interpersonal skills and you'll work all the time.

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2 Responses

  1. Donald Wood says:

    This has similarities to the Interpersonal Communications class we had in Corrections. Good substance. Unfortunately our instructor read from the book in a slow monotone. It was 8 a.m. right after an hour of PT, 3 cups of coffee and sitting by an open window (28 degrees) and still falling asleep. No matter how good the information may be, presentation plays an important part.