People skills require the ability to communicate effectively with individuals of all types. However, what matters most is your true character, which is revealed by how you act when you think nobody is looking.
Everywhere you go and everything you do involves interactions with other individuals, sometimes on a personal level, sometimes while conducting business. The way you interact with others can have a dramatic impact on your life, and not always when you’re aware of it.
For example, let’s say Bob considers himself to be a savvy and successful salesman. He’s about to close the biggest deal of his life with an important prospective client and he’s working the Mr. Nice Guy persona in a major way. Later that day, Bob sees an elderly lady fall down in the street, but instead of offering his assistance, he just keeps walking. What Bob failed to realize is that his big client happened to be on the same street witnessing the entire event. The next day, to Bob’s surprise, the client calls to say he has no interest in continuing their negotiations. Because, of course, Bob's failure to assist the elderly lady revealed to the potential client Bob's TRUE character.
Here’s another example. In Sir Richard Branson’s reality show The Rebel Billionaire, sixteen contestants competed for one of the most lucrative prizes in reality TV. As it turned out, the competitors had completed their very first task without ever knowing it. Upon their arrival at the airport, Mr. Branson himself picked up the contestants, disguised as a cab driver. Two of them addressed him in a rather cocky and demeaning manner. When Mr. Branson revealed his true identity, they were quickly fired.
The lesson from these two stories is that you should always treat people well, regardless of what you think they may or may not be able to do for you in return. You never know who they might turn out to be. That stranger you treat poorly might be the one person who could give you CPR in an emergency. Think of how you would treat that individual if you knew he would later save your life.
Here are some essential tips for developing people skills, whether or not anyone’s around to notice:
Make an effort to understand others. Learning to understand people in different situations is key. Let’s say you’re at a restaurant. The waitress seems a bit upset; you know she hasn’t had a good day. Remember, people may act in a negative way to you, but how you respond to them is your choice. Instead of reacting with equal negativity and adding to her pain, do something to help alleviate it. Offer a sincere compliment or find something nice to say. You can make someone’s day just by being pleasant, and you’ll enjoy better customer service. Everybody benefits.
Be willing to learn from others. If all your work is based solely on what you already know, you will eventually be overtaken by someone younger, smarter, or hungrier. Never stop learning and always be willing to learn from others. The day you become unteachable, will be the day you stop progressing in any endeavor. Treat others as the experts--this will earn you respect and admiration, as well as heighten their desire to work with you.
Listen more, talk less and ask questions. How you listen to others is another important skill. Listening to someone with your full attention and allowing them to finish a sentence without your interrupting shows you are engaged in and value what they have to say. There's a reason we have two ears and one mouth!
Communicate clearly and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush. People respect and appreciate direct communication. It saves time and the effort of trying to piece together what you’re getting at.
Remember that the least important word in a conversation is “I.” Enough about you; start talking in terms of “we.”
Check your ego. As some people gain success, their ego grows proportionately. There is what I call a healthy ego, but there is also an unhealthy ego. A healthy ego reflects the ability to deal with your emotions effectively and reacts in a positive way when faced with challenges. This is where true self-esteem reigns. An unhealthy ego involves boasting and putting others down, and basically tries to make up for one’s insecurities and underlying low self-esteem. Whereas a healthy ego celebrates and tries to contribute to the success of others, an unhealthy ego is consumed with jealousy and insecurity.
Refrain from judging and never put others down. People make mistakes; nobody is perfect. When others display their imperfections, seize the opportunity to let your grace and charisma show them a better way.
Keep your word. Always do what you say and make good on your promises. Having strong values and ethics is a sure way to build a great reputation. There’s nothing better than having people refer to you as a “professional.”
The bottom line: Always be respectful of others, even if you think they have nothing to offer you. You may not like the behavior they display, but that doesn’t mean you can’t like the individual. By combining these skills with a sincere attitude, you dramatically increase your chances for producing the best possible, win-win outcome.
Be sure to check out my new best seller, Discovering Your Personal Power: 27 Articles of Inspiration, based on the columns I write here for Mesquite Local News. Available in both papeback and eBook through Amazon at: http://amzn.to/KApKsm and Barnes & Noble at http://bit.ly/Izv6Zd
Nikk Zorbas is a performance coach, author, recording artist, and creator of "The Reveal, Dream Big, Never Quit" program. He splits his time between Las Vegas and Mesquite. His monthly column appears the first Monday of every month on www.MesquiteLocalNews.com . For more information, visit his website at www.DiscoveringThePowerOfYou.com .