National Collegiate 4-H

Interpersonal Skills

Developing good interpersonal skills is important in both personal and professional development along with being a benefit to everyone in your Collegiate 4-H Club.  Learn more about the qualities of an organization leader, conflict management skills, and unsolicited advise.  A must read for any Collegiate 4-H officer or leader!

Qualities of an Organization Leader.

People who take on a leadership roles in student organizations should be capable of inspiring the confidence of those who they lead. This requires a great deal of maturity as well as a willingness to sometimes put aside personal preferences for the benefit of the entire organization. A quality leader is also very comfortable in working as part of a team rather than making unilateral decisions and expecting the membership to follow. 

Other leadership qualities include:

  1. Respect for the opinions of others.
  2. Willingness to work with others.
  3. Ability to listen as well as speak.
  4. Belief in the ability of the group to make quality- decisions.
  5. Ability to clearly understand the function and tasks of the organization.
  6. Ability to develop an organizational process that considers the following:
    1. a wholesome atmosphere for discussion
    2. an orderly procedure for conducting meetings
    3. a balanced involvement of all members
    4. an accurate record of the organization’s activities  
    5. linkage with outside resources
    6. a meeting schedule that is convenient for the maximum number of members. 

Conflict Management Skills.

Few decisions are made in groups as unanimous agreement. If we accept the fact that unanimity does not exist in complex groups, then friction and conflict are inevitable. Conflict is meant as all types of perceived opposition. 

The Value of Conflict – Organizations that do not stimulate or accept conflict increase the probability of stagnant thinking and inadequate decisions. Established groups tend to improve more when there is conflict among members than when there is fairly close agreement. This type of conflict which improves organizational behavior is known as Functional Conflict. Conflict is both a source and a result of change. 

The Paradox of Conflict – The purpose of openly challenging ideas and philosophies is to force-reevaluating. Perceived differences can be discussed in an environment that supports conflict. A paradox is created because tolerance of conflict is counter to most cultures. Our desire for consensus and agreement influences us more than our desire for effective performance. 

Major Sources of Conflict – Conflict may result as there are communication misunderstandings, barriers in organizational structure and roles, and individual differences in behavior and values systems.

Some Tips to Make Conflict Functional – Conflict may be avoided, diffused or delayed, or confronted. In confronting conflict there are some tips to help the process be more functional.

  • negotiate -do not take sides
  • clarity points -avoid "right" and "wrong" statements
  • allow expressions to be voiced -respect individual differences
  • listen quietly -be aware of your own biases
  • do not get emotionally involved        
  • assume all sides have legitimate positions 


Unsolicited Advice.

  1. Realize that "people support what they help to create." The member who feels actively involved with the organization will continue to be committed to it.
  2. Respect the rights and opinions of each group member; keep the channels of communication open.
  3. Remember that a large group can be broken into small groups to open the gates for involvement and commitment.
  4. Be prepared to level with others and to maintain an atmosphere where others feel free to level with you. Through such communication you can move mountains. In silence, hostility grows.
  5. Remember that the group is not working for you; you are working together.
  6. Commitment and enthusiasm are contagious.
  7. The good leader can be lead. They are not interested in having their own way, but in finding the best way. Have an open mind – your way is not the only way.