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Interaction Essentials

What everyone must do every day to be effective

Little work gets done alone. Great leadership and effective collaboration depends largely on dozens of interactions or conversations people have every day—with managers, employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, and others. From this fact emerges a more basic question: What leads to successful conversations?

The answer, based on extensive research over the last four decades, lies in a set of fundamental skills and behaviors—required of everyone at any level, regardless of the business situation, goal, or culture—that we have come to call the Interaction EssentialsSM. They are particularly critical for those in leadership positions: when leaders engage in these behaviors consistently, their success soars; when they ignore them, or apply them poorly, they can expect to quickly fail.

DDI believes so strongly in the use of the Interaction Essentials that we incorporate them as foundational elements of many of our learning and development programs, including Interaction Management®.

  • 5 principles to help a person meet others’ personal needs.
  • 5 guidelines on how to meet people’s practical needs.
  • A prerequisite to develop other critical leadership skills—such as coaching, decision-making, resolving conflict, or driving change.
  • Necessary behaviors for critical interactions that define a leadership role, including team meetings, coaching situations, and performance discussions.
  • A foundation that creates a common leadership language across an organization.


The Interaction Essentials are introduced and developed in the IM courses Communicating for Leadership Success (for leaders) and Communicating with Impact (for individual contributors), and a new 60-minute web-based course Interaction Essentials for Leaders.

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