A lot of people ask me about what they can do to improve their people skills. This is an interesting question because “people skills” cover a wide variety of things. People skills are not generally a part of a business curriculum in college, but they are an important part of being successful in anything. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a job applicant that had a Masters in Business Management with a minor in People Skills?
Good People Skills Begin With Listening
To many conversations go something like this. Person A talks. Then Person B talks. And when Person B talks, Person A is thinking about what they are going to say next. I would tend to call that bad people skills. One of the most important things in a conversation is understanding what the other person is saying. Otherwise, you should just be talking to yourself. To many times we are to worried about defending ourselves, or our position to really hear what the other person is saying. We don’t listen, we prepare our rebuke. So if you really want better people skills, start by listening. Really listening.
Empathy is the Key to Understanding
When you really listen to someone, you need to try to understand their viewpoint. Now, don’t get me wrong, understanding someone’s viewpoint doesn’t mean agreeing with it. It just means that you understand where they are coming from, and from that, why they feel, do or act they way they do. In empathizing with someone, we can understand their motivations, and from there, we can begin to understand the situation they are in. Far to often, we choose apathy over empathy, yet for good people skills, we need to work on empathy.
It Really is All In How You Look At It.
Perception is very important when it comes to people skills. Two different people can perceive the same person or the same situation completely differently. If you star out thinking bad about someone, chances are you will see the bad in them. But if you are looking for the good in people, I am pretty sure you will find it. Most people don’t like to hear this because it turns the tables back on them. But the truth really is how we perceive if. If you thing someone is mean, then you will interpret things they say as mean even if they are not intended that way.
A wise person once noted that we stop learning when we die. The real irony is that it is the ignorant person who thinks they already know it all. The simple fact that you are reading this means that you are trying to enrich yourself by learning something new. Don’t stop. Read more, take classes, watch documentaries, get coaching. There is always more to learn. Learning brings on understanding, and understanding really is the key to cultivating good people skills.