How to Improve Your People Skills at University

At university, people skills are essential. Most schools have few, if any, faculties, and you must complete all of your work on your own. Most programs require you to work in groups to perform projects and make presentations on course material (some more than others).

The same principles are applicable when communicating with and succeeding in interpersonal relationships with others as they do with anyone else. When working on a group project, you will have to deal with and navigate other people’s personalities, debating on your point of view and presenting your ideas while giving others a chance to voice their own and try to persuade your fellow group members to do what you want. That is not to say you will be manipulating people, but your political skills will undoubtedly play a role in how well you perform in a group. Here are some pointers to help you improve your people skills at school.

Make others feel important

Some people have a terrible, even subconscious, tendency to try to elevate themselves by downgrading others. This is a sign of a weak person who has a feeling of inferiority. If you truly want to earn the trust and respect of those you work with (and thus make them more open to your ideas and requests as the project advances), you should always aspire to make people feel important.

The best part about making others feel important is that it is completely free. This strategy is especially effective if you can tell someone in the group is shy and/or underappreciated. A word of encouragement or a surprise compliment can go a long way. If you listen to other people’s ideas and suggestions and make them feel important and valuable, they will most likely respond in kind.

Instead of commanding, pose implied questions

During a group project, there is frequently that individual who feels entitled to take charge. They might enjoy the idea of directing others’ actions. They may have told themselves or been told by others that they are a “natural born leader,” and they may believe that others expect them to lead and take charge. Perhaps they enjoy telling future employers about a time when they took charge and led. They begin barking commands and issuing orders as if it were their divine right. Remember that group projects are not intended to reflect organizational hierarchies. There are no superior-subordinate relationships. They should be democratic.

In fact, asking questions ranks third on Dale Carnegie’s famous How to Win Friends and Influence People list of factors to “change people without offending or arousing resentment.” If you are a person who naturally likes to take charge and know you have a strong type A personality, keep in mind how others may perceive you when attempting to complete a group project successfully. Furthermore, being able to do your fair share of the work is an important part of having a successful group project. Given all of the other duties and tasks of university life, that isn’t always possible. If this is the case, there are services available to assist you with group projects so that you do not become overwhelmed by everything else you have to do.

Allow others to save face

When discussing Western culture, the term “saving face” is rarely used. It is commonly linked with Eastern cultures, particularly those that value honor and despise and avoid shame. However, saving face is a universal concept. To save face means to avoid appearing socially ridiculous or as if one has lost dignity or status. The concept exists to varying degrees depending on which culture you examine, but it is, first and foremost, a human being thing.

Your people skills will serve you well in university, especially when working on group projects. Allowing others to save face when they have done or said something embarrassing, or when one of their ideas have not worked out the way they claimed or thought it would, is one of the most valuable things you can do to curry favor with others. If you feel the need to inform others when they’ve made a mistake, being able to do so in a way that doesn’t make them look bad or foolish will benefit you greatly with your group members.

You don’t have to talk all the time to make an impression

There is an old but cliche proverb about having two ears and one mouth because you should listen twice as much as you speak. That is correct. When you’re in a group meeting, your first instinct should not be to be the loudest, most frequent speaker in the room. People are more likely to listen to what you have to say if you aren’t constantly talking, but rather carefully considering what you want to say, listening to others speak their piece, and waiting for the appropriate moment to actually engage.

When sharing your idea, keep it brief, to the point, and well-thought-out. A few well-spoken, succinct phrases will have far more impact on your audience than a slew of ramblings (which poorly analyzed statements and ideas usually do, they ramble). This is the major factor in speaking authoritatively. If you speak with authority and people regard you as having authority, your group members will automatically look to you for advice and take your words more seriously.

Working as a group is something you’ll have to get used to. Interacting with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as disparately located, foreign groups will become the norm in our ever-globalizing world. Keep the aforementioned aspects in mind when working on group projects at university to enhance your people skills, and contact GradeOffice for any and all of your custom essay writing and coursework requirements.


Giasson, F. (2005). “How to Win Friends and Influence People: A List in 28 Points.” fgiasson. Retrieved from:

Goudreau, J. (2011). “How to speak with authority.” Forbes. Retrieved from: