Honing people skills through research work

together we can Group activities in school can lead to better interpersonal skills among students.

Honing people skills through research work

People skills are a combination of social and psychological skills that indicate one’s ability to communicate effectively in a friendly manner. People skills help us in getting along well with others and in presenting a positive image of ourselves. They help us empathise with the people around us and communicate with them effectively.

Hence, good people skills would indicate a ‘groomed personality’ who is a better-integrated individual in our society. The National Curriculum Framework (2005) affirms the importance of such skills by mentioning that the development of “critical thinking skills, interpersonal communication skills, negotiation/refusal skills, decision making/problem-solving skills, and coping and self-management skills are also critical for dealing with the demands and challenges of everyday life.”

Taking a cue from NCF 2005, many school boards in India have adopted continuous and comprehensive evaluation strategies that are integrated with life skills. As a consequence, research and project work have become one of the most popular teaching strategies in today’s schools. Rather than learning about things by reading in a textbook, students get a chance to research, investigate and learn on their own. This is done through group or individual activities that need students to work on their people skills for completing their assignments.

Considering how people skills play such an important role, let us now look at a few common people skills and how research and project work in schools will help our students develop them.

Communication skills: When working on a project with a group or researching on a given topic, students get an opportunity to communicate with a varied group of people. This group might constitute their classmates or people they approach to gain information. This exposure helps students build confidence by being comfortable questioning and sharing their opinions. Projects and research work also give the students an opportunity to hone their written communication skills through submission of reports, mail exchange to gather information, writing blogs etc.

Patience as a virtue: Working with a group on a project or collecting information for a research will give the students an exposure to deal with stressful situations. Being able to deal with these situations will help the students develop patience as a virtue as well as practice.

Empathy: Being able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes is an important people’s skill. When working on projects or researching on topics, students are given an opportunity to look at things from another person’s perspective. Hence, exposing them to being able to detach from one’s own view and being able to accept different views and perspectives. 

Active listening skills: Discussions form an integral part of project works and researches. Meaningful discussions are a by-product of developing active listening skills. Hence, promoting the quality of being an active listener in students.

Genuine interest in others: A very important aspect to becoming an active listener is the ability to be able to develop interest in others. A speaker will share information effectively only if she knows she is being heard out by somebody who is interested in what is being shared.

Good judgment: Good judgment plays a key role in any project plan or research work. Active listening and good observation skills are the key attributes which contribute towards making a good judgment. These in turn will help the students fare well in the given assignment, be it a project or research work.

Persuasive skills: While working with a team, it is important to be able to sell one’s idea to the rest. Research and project work acquaint students to become more confident and to be able to express themselves without any reserves and being able to persuade others about their ideas.

Knowing your audience: What to speak, how to speak and when to speak, form a very important part of people skills. It is important for one to understand when and how can a message be sent across to be accepted by the receiver in the best manner possible. Hence, projects and research work give the students a chance to master their ability to understand their audience and gain the flexibility to be able to deal with them in the best manner possible.

Effective body language: Ability to understand body language is the most important people skill. It forms the basis for effective verbal communication. Exposure to a varied group of people through projects and research work will train students to assimilate the basic cues about understanding body language.

Proactive problem solving: Understanding and facing a problem head-on will be the most common as well as the richest experience students will be exposed to while working on any project or research based work. This in turn will prepare them to look at a problem rationally and deal with it without being bogged down.

Therefore, even though we might sometimes feel that project and research work are long drawn assignments which the students are made to work on, hopefully the above information has helped you change that perspective.

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