Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Developing People Skills

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

To grow and enhance your people skills, begin doing the following:

1. Valuing People
The beginning step in growing people skills is to intentionally value people beyond what they do for you or what they accomplish. Look deeper at the total person and what they add to their family, community, and the world. Take a long-term approach in establishing a person’s value.

2. Mindfully and Intentionally Listen
Lock into every conversation as if someone were going to give you winning lottery numbers. Focus only on them and reduce any potential distraction and never try to multitask (a great myth) when engaged in listening. Never interrupt but ask clarifying questions and complimentary validate what you have heard (i.e., thank you for sharing that or that was very interesting).

3. Ask About Others
Demonstrate genuine interest in other people by asking what is important to them and what they value. If you’re unsure about those items, start with family, pets, what they do in their free time, where they are from, and what they want to become or where they want to go. At each response, compliment their response to keep the information flowing and be sure to read item 3 below.

4. Avoid Sharing or Oversharing Your Own Poetry
If you want to really demonstrate your prowess in people skills, you will learn to subordinate your own story and own things that you’re just dying to share with others and make interactions about them. There will be plenty of time to tell your story but make interactions about other people as much as possible.

5. Compliment and Appreciate People
When you see something in others that is a positive attribute or something you value, share it with them. Tell them you appreciate them or their efforts or their value. Tell them they did a great job or performed some work in an awesome manner. Do it in a genuine and enthusiastic manner and don’t keep those positive thoughts to yourself. If you see good, speak the good.

6. Non-Judgmental and Non-Comparing Empathy
Many interactions with people provide the opening for genuine empathy. Empathy is the placement of ourselves in the scenario being experienced by another. This highly admired characteristic is about experiencing what they are feeling and understanding where they are at. Two important qualifiers separate good empathy from an awkward try at it. First, never compare the situation that someone is experiencing to something that has happened to you (i.e., you think that was bad, I was in the hospital for three days or sounds like a good camping trip like when we spent a month in Hawaii.) Comparing makes it about you and not them.

Eliminating judgement and fixing also set apart great empathy. Although your mind will be tempted to judge, and sometimes offer a fix for scenarios presented to you, you must not. It wasn’t you and it’s not about you, it’s about them and they deserve empathy.
7. Speak Ill of No One
Both your people skills and your reputation are on the line when you speak poorly or gossip about others. For most people, this is a significant turnoff that will alienate people and create no desire to speak with you again. If others try to draw you into their gossip or spreading of ill will, resist the temptation and say nothing or create some positive redirection for the conversation.

8. Use Courtesy
Sadly, please, thank you, and I’m sorry are becoming rarer and rarer in human interactions. Engage a platinum level of courtesy and error on the side of being overly polite. Thank often, say please always, and apologize to express empathy or regret. Be known as the politest person in the room. Please note there is an arcane stigma that courtesy equals weak. This could not be farther from the truth. Truly strong people are not afraid to be courteous and being viewed as nice.

9. Let the Small Stuff Slide
Unless you live in an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia, you are going to encounter people during the day. And during one of more of those interactions, someone is going to wrong you. They won’t say hello back. They use the wrong words. They accidentally step on a sensitive issue for you. They don’t pay enough attention to you. They don’t text you back quick enough. You get the idea here; someone is going to slight you or not treat you exactly how you want to be treated.

Now the hard part; you must let those small little things go. Provide instant forgiveness and move on. Not dwell on it, not retaliate, not let it affect the other interactions you are going to have. Just let it go and move on, release it to the universe.

10. Don’t Seek Reciprocation
In a perfect world, every person you encounter would reciprocate all the above with you. Please don’t be naïve and certainly don’t engage in an interaction with someone and expect it back in return. It just won’t happen. Your skills will invite the return to you and certainly model a great behavior but that is still no guarantee that it will come back to you. Treat any reciprocation of courtesy, interest in you, appreciation for you, or excellent listening as an unexpected bonus.

11. Smile
Nothing is most endearing and warm than a smile and it is one of the most powerful and easy to use people skills. Let them know you value the interaction with this simple non-verbal signal. Not a cheesy grin but a legitimate smile that shows you’re happy to interact with them. Our facial expressions are common behavioral blind spots so you will need to be intentional about it until it becomes a more naturalized part of who you are.

12. A Little Energy
Even if you are a quiet, reserved, introvert, we need to add a little spark of energy to your interactions. No one wants to be engaged with someone who you can barely tell if they have a pulse or not. Speak up, smile, and add some great, positive energy to all of your people interactions.

13. Prioritize People Interactions
We all get a little over-peopled at times. I do, my close friends do, we all do, but we must be mindful that people are the most valuable resource around us. We are wired to be connected to others. People are more important than projects, tasks, and really anything else we have going on. We need to prioritize those people interactions and opportunities for interactions ahead of the other stuff. It will still be there after you engage with people. I promise.

Lack of People Skills Frequency:
Often __________
Occasionally __________
Never __________

Lack of People Skills Impact:
High ____________________
Moderate ____________________
Low ____________________

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