With good people skills you increase your leadership competence

Reading time 6 minutes
With good people skills you increase your leadership competence

People skills are a quality that we all possess. However, not all of us take advantage of the insights it provides. Many are not aware of the importance of this ability or do not know how to use their people skills in their everyday professional and private lives.

The definition of cognition is that it is a natural talent that enables us to judge other people based on first impressions. Thus, we are basically able to recognize and judge the character, intentions as well as future behavior of others. However, each person's cognition of human nature varies. While some people see through their counterpart after the first glance, others can be deceived by visual impressions.

A lack of knowledge of human nature often leads to misjudgements. This leads to wrong decisions that can harm you professionally and privately. Do you find it difficult to understand others? Are you unable to put yourself in other people's shoes? As a leader, you depend on your people skills to lead a team and make important decisions. Here you will learn what people skills are and how you can use them to your advantage.

A brief definition about people skills

Good people skills will help you in your professional and private life. The term "knowledge of human nature" is generally defined as the ability to accurately assess the behavior of others. If you are able to understand other people and recognize their intentions, you can use these insights for yourself. As a manager, you will be able to conduct conversations with business partners and employees more easily and successfully. Especially in leadership positions, a good understanding of people is important, because this is the basis of qualified leadership.

Being able to assess people better helps wherever you have to deal with people. This skill is particularly important in areas such as management, personnel management and sales. In addition, your people skills help you understand yourself better. Having people skills makes life easier.

People skills: Can they be learned?

Is people skills innate or can they be learned? Every person has a certain empathy by nature. Due to the experiences acquired in life, a more or less pronounced knowledge of human nature develops.

However, not everyone succeeds in using this intuitive knowledge of human nature. Being able to analyze people requires a great deal of empathy and a keen sense of context. Train your knowledge of human nature by paying attention to the facial expressions, gestures, speech and body language of the people around you. A good knowledge of human nature cannot be taken for granted. This ability develops through:

  • Life experience
  • Intelligence
  • intuition

With something Empathy it is easier for you to put yourself in other people's shoes. You are able to reliably assess how your business partners or employees might act. In your private life, too, a well-developed knowledge of human nature helps you to recognize conflicts at an early stage and thus avoid negative consequences for your relationship. A good knowledge of human nature has many advantages:

  • Negotiation skills improve
  • Empathy increases
  • Conflict potential decreases

As a good judge of character, you are an attentive, sensitive, and at the same time independent observer who can accurately assess others. Acquiring knowledge of human nature is a very complex process.

Good knowledge of human nature

Lack of knowledge of human nature: Why misjudgements lead to wrong decisions

Perception plays a central role in improving our knowledge of human nature. When we meet other people, we automatically perceive many details. Our brain processes this information in a matter of seconds. Thus, within a few seconds, we know whether a person is likeable to us or whether we find a person unsympathetic based on their facial expressions, gestures or visual factors.

However, human perception is not based on facts, but on feelings and is therefore always inaccurate. We often only see what we would like to see. We focus on external details such as clothing style, hairstyle and facial expression and evaluate subjectively instead of objectively. Our perception depends on our respective inner state of mind as well as on our expectations and desires. In addition, we tend to adopt the judgment of others unchecked if these people enjoy our particular trust.

People skills: first impressions are often deceptive

Errors of perception and judgment can diminish the ability to objectively assess other people. First impressions are often deceptive. Especially if you have not learned to understand and correctly interpret the other person's behavior.

It is human nature to confirm our own expectations. We only want to see what corresponds to our initial assessment. If we observe something that does not correspond to our expectations, this is simply ignored by our subconscious. In this way, our initial impression of another person becomes true. In the end, we are mistakenly convinced that we have a good knowledge of human nature, although this is not the case.

At work, such misjudgments can lead to serious wrong decisions. Since wrong decisions endanger careers, it is especially important for managers to have solid people skills.

8 exercises to train your people skills

Even though first impressions are crucial, they can be quite deceiving. Do you often feel deceived by other people? Do you often experience that others behave completely differently than you expected? Then this may be due to a poor knowledge of human nature. The following exercises and tips should help you to improve your knowledge of human nature and your assessment of people:

  1. Maintain social contacts.
  2. Learn from misconceptions.
  3. Do not judge strangers hastily.
  4. Pay attention to unconscious signals through facial expressions and gestures.
  5. Don't be fooled by visual impressions.
  6. Question the reasons.
  7. Don't compare yourself to others.
  8. Always remain objective and unbiased.

Social contacts are the best way to get more people skills. As a manager, you have a lot to do with other people. This gives you valuable experience that you can use in your job and in your private life.

Pay attention to your perception

Misperception is a psychological phenomenon also called confirmation bias. This means that your perception only perceives things that correspond to your worldview and beliefs. Everything else is blanked out.

In a leadership position, you should pay close attention to your perceptions. Learn to deal with mistakes or avoid them altogether by not judging your employees too quickly.

If you work as a manager in personnel management, it is important to take enough time to get to know and observe applicants. Use your knowledge of human nature consciously and individually and do not allow yourself to be influenced by the advantages or opinions of others. Pay attention to unconscious signals that every person transmits through facial expressions and gestures. Concentrate on the voice and manner of speech of the person you are talking to and try to decipher what that person is telling you between the lines.

Don't be fooled by visual impressions!

Visual impressions can be deceiving. As an executive with people skills, don't let yourself be dazzled by exclusive designer dresses or perfectly fitting business suits. Appearances say nothing significant about the person and their intentions, but are meant to impress or distract. If you want to improve your knowledge of human nature, don't let yourself be dazzled by such superficialities.

Remain critical but unbiased and question the reasons so that you can better judge people. What behavior can you expect from this person? Don't just look at the positive qualities. Every person has strengths and weaknesses. Improving your knowledge of human nature also means taking off your "rose-colored glasses" and looking at things realistically. Recognize your perceptual errors and avoid them in the future.

Successful leaders are characterized by:

  • empathy
  • Self-confidence
  • Ability to learn
  • analytical skills
  • Fairness
  • Communication skills

off. Use your people skills to develop a fair leadership style and do not compare your leadership style to others. Do not compare yourself to leaders who have chosen a different leadership style.

The advantages of a good knowledge of human nature at work

As a manager, you need good people skills to lead your team. At work, people skills are an invaluable asset. The ability to assess other people correctly means being able to deploy your employees in a meaningful way. If you know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, you will be able to deal with difficult situations.

In business meetings, sales calls, and negotiations, good people skills will help you achieve maximum results for your company. Learning and improving your empathic skills will give you several advantages at work:

  • Negotiation skills
  • Conflict avoidance
  • Recognize trends and developments more quickly
  • Avoid wrong decisions

Increase your success in negotiations by using your understanding of human nature to identify your counterpart's motives and anticipate their behavior. Understanding other people better will help you avoid conflicts in the future and find compromises that benefit everyone involved.

People skills help with special challenges

Improve your knowledge of human nature and you will be less likely to be disappointed or deceived, because you can unerringly assess your fellow human beings. In a responsible position such as a manager, you are confronted with special challenges in your daily work.

With a good knowledge of human nature you increase your Leadership. In our Executive Coaching you learn how to make important decisions and resolve conflicts. The Coaching for leaders is suitable for all people who have to lead others and take responsibility for their employees. The greatest benefit of people skills, understanding others better in their individuality, helps you improve your leadership skills and develop a qualified leadership style.


Having good people skills is one of the most important career boosters. As a people person, you are able to control your team, which consists of very different types of people, and influence them in your own favor. With Manipulation However, knowledge of human nature has nothing to do with it. Empathic supervisors who know and correctly assess people and their behaviors are simply excellent observers who use their ability to do so in order to achieve their goals.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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