What are Human Relations Skills?

Updated July 3, 2023

Human relations is critical for developing and maintaining a positive work environment, retaining employees and encouraging productivity. By making human relations the focus of your management approach, you can effectively create a workplace culture in which your employees can thrive. Developing your human relations skills can help you modify your management style so it's human relations-centric.

In this article, we discuss what human relations is, why human relations is important in the workplace and specific human relations skills you should focus on developing.

Related: Human Skills: Definitions and Examples

What is human relations?

Human relations refers to the ability to interact in a healthy manner with others and build strong relationships. From the perspective of managers in a company, it involves the process of creating systems and communication channels to enable group employee relationships as well as strong one-on-one relationships. Additionally, it includes the process of training people for specific roles, addressing their needs, resolving conflicts between employees or between management and employees and creating a positive workplace culture.

Related: 7 Types of Workplace Management Theories

Why is human relations important?

Human relations is critical in business for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Employee productivity: When relationships between a company's managers and its employees are supportive and positive, productivity is shown to increase. Additionally, when employees are dependent upon each other with their work, it directly influences productivity. When employees feel that they're treated with respect and recognized for contributing to a company's success, they are more likely to produce quality work.

  • Motivation: When employees recognize that performing job-related tasks will allow them to feel appreciated and valued, they are more motivated to do them.

  • Positive perception: An employee's interpersonal and communication skills impact the perception that other employees have about their ability to positively contribute to the workplace. A positive perception of an employee's work and attitude could create opportunities for future advancement.

  • Employee retention: Employees who feel they're treated respectfully by their employer are more likely to continue working for them for a longer period of time. By using human relations to establish a feeling of mutual trust and value, a company creates an environment where employees feel that they matter and are less likely to pursue other opportunities.

  • Creativity: In the workplace, creativity is often dependent on the employee's ability to communicate and share ideas with their colleagues. By creating a positive workplace culture and nurturing workplace relationships and teamwork, a business can encourage creativity and more quickly develop products and services to meets the consumer's changing needs.

Related: Human Resources: Definition and How It Works

Human relations skills

By developing key human relations skills, managers and employees both can build and maintain stronger relationships within a workforce and maintain a positive work environment. Here are the most critical human relations skills:


Communication is essential in any work environment. However, it's especially critical for those in a leadership role. By being able to communicate effectively with employees, you can ensure that employees feel valued and motivated in the work they're doing. Managers can accomplish this through written communication like notes or emails as well as one-on-one conversations. By conveying messages to others and listening with the intention of understanding, managers can nurture feelings of trust. Additionally, employees are more likely to feel close to their managers if they are willing to share their own personal perspectives and feelings and encourage others to do the same.

Leaders should adapt the language to the situation. This often means modifying their choice of words depending on who they're speaking with. For example, if they're communicating with a high-level executive, they should use a more formal communication style than if they were speaking with a member of their own team or a customer. Another approach to modifying your communication style is to mirror the style of the person you're speaking with. Look for interests that you have in common with them and match their physical stance and tone of voice.


Empathy is another important human relations skill that allows you to show genuine interest in understanding the feelings or challenges that others are experiencing. Empathy allows you to look at a situation from their perspective and help them feel they can trust you. By looking at a situation from their point of view, you can show them compassion and more easily find solutions to problems they may be having, if appropriate. This can strengthen the relationship you have with them.

Conflict resolution

Conflict can occur in the workplace when you have a large number of team members with different personality types, goals and worldviews. Managers, then, must have well-developed conflict resolution skills. When conflict arises, you need to be able to listen to the individual perspectives so that each person involved feels that they are being heard and understood. Once the facts are presented, you then work with the parties to come up with a solution that everyone is comfortable with. By developing strong conflict resolution skills, you can actually help to strengthen the relationships of employees on your team and maintain or restore harmony in the workplace.


Leaders must be able to manage multiple, sometimes competing, priorities while staying on-deadline. They also are often interrupted with questions and face numerous unexpected tasks on a regular basis. They are responsible for making sure that their own work is completed and also for ensuring the work of their time is being completed in a timely manner.


Leaders need to be able to manage their time effectively and work efficiently, especially when they're working on multiple priorities that are time-sensitive. Organization impacts all areas of a working environment. It includes a manager's ability to keep their physical workspace organized as well as organize their processes so they are efficient and get the desired results. Managers are typically responsible for maintaining employee records and filling out paperwork. Organization skills are critical in order to be able to manage all of these responsibilities.


Negotiation skills are important for helping multiple parties reach agreeable terms. Managers are often responsible for helping reach agreements between vendors and their company, negotiating employment offers or even just managing opposing viewpoints. The mirroring approach described above can help managers be more effective negotiators.

Stress management

Because leaders are responsible for managing the expectations of stakeholders, managing a team of people and prioritizing their own work to achieve company objectives, they are periodically faced with stressful situations. For this reason, managers need to be equipped with effective stress management skills and be able to remain calm under pressure. By actively using stress management techniques and modeling them for their team, they can help maintain a calm work environment, even when a team is under high levels of pressure.

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