GETTING ON WITH OTHER PEOPLE – 8 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS

Probably the greatest gift you can have in life is the ability to get one with other people.  We have already written about emotional intelligence and you can follow that up at the link. But this is simply a piece about  getting on with others – simple but very important.  Some of us are born with the gift;  for other our parents teach us how to do it.  Unfortunately, some people just slip through the net and they can’t understand why they don’t get on with others.  Going through change ,as in life, social skills are invaluable.  Happily even later in life you can learn some techniques to help.

1. Relax

You need to be able to concentrate on some one else and in order to do that you need to be relaxed enough to forget yourself.  We have provided a simple relaxation technique at the link which you might like to practice for 15 minutes before any really challenging social situation.  If you don’t have that much time, then take yourself to a quiet place, take some gentle deep breaths and just think of your favorite place in the world for a few seconds – one more deep breath!   Now you are ready for an adventure! Remember when you meet someone that you really do have lots of things in common already.  We all share the common human condition.  Most of us worry about our health, having enough money our families and what other people think of us.  The Dalai Lama thinks of everyone as an old fiend – that way he can relax and be warm towards them!  Try it – its very useful skill  and well worth practicing.

2. Concentrate on them

Here is this other person, with all their life history, before you!  They are an unopened book!  There are very few people who don’t like talking about themselves and their interests, if you give them the opportunity.  Don’t get too personal too quickly and its a good idea to relate your question to the even.  |You can always ask – have they been here before, why have they come, what is their special interest?  Parties you can always ask who they know?  Concentrate on them, listen to them and then ask a follow up question based on what they just told you – keep them talking!  Focus on them not you!

3. Use your listening Skills

We’ve already written on listening skills – more at the link.  But briefly – let the other person know you are listening   by making ‘I’m listening’ noises – ‘Uh-huh’, ‘really?’, ‘oh yes?’ Feed back what you’ve heard – “So he went to the dentist? What happened?” !  Refering back to others’ comments later on – “You know how you were saying earlier”.   Pay attention!

4. Empathise

Take an interest in what they saying – try to keep still,  make eye contact (but don’t stare) and smile (if they are telling you something neutral or nice and don’t if they are telling you something sad).   A fascination (even if forced at first) with another’s conversation, not only increases your comfort levels, it makes them feel interesting. Remember what I said about sharing the human condition – they are interesting – they have a whole life to tell you about!

5.Build Rapport

Rapport is a state of understanding or connection that occurs in a good social interaction. It says basically “I am like you, we understand each other“. Rapport occurs on an unconscious level, and when it happens, the language, speech patterns, body movement and posture, and other aspects of communication can synchronize down to incredibly fine levels. Rapport is an unconscious process, but it can be encouraged by conscious efforts.

  • Body posture ‘mirroring’, or movement ‘matching’  – stand or sit the way they stand or sit etc!  For example – if they cross their arms, cross yours.  But not obviously!
  • Reflecting back language and speech –  use the same words – if they are talking quietly – you do too.  If they are talking quickly speed up etc
  • Feeding back what you have heard, as in 3) above

6. Self Disclosure

You need to think about how much to talk about yourself and when.  Talking about yourself too much and too early can be a major turn-off for the other person.  Initially don’t tell them your family secrets, your politics, your religion, the details of your medical complaints or your divorce.  Keep those things for when you know each other a little better.  You can talk about the weather (in UK), television, films, the theatre, – ask them what books they are reading.  Keep it balanced and in the neutral space – let them take it on to more personal things when they are ready.   As conversations and relationships progress, disclosing personal facts (small, non-emotional ones first!) leads to a feeling of getting to know each other.

7. Appropriate eye contact
If you don’t look at someone when you are talking or listening to them, they will get the idea that: you are ignoring them or you are untrustworthy or you just don’t like them.  This doesn’t mean you have to stare at them – staring at someone while talking to them can give them the feeling you are angry with them. Keeping your eyes on them while you are listening, of course, is only polite and smile when its appropriate.  But note rules vary and  eye contact in particular varies between culture.

8. Practice

Remember this is a skill and you have to practice.  Do it consciously and do it often.  You will find you lose yourself in it and become really interested in the other person and therefore interesting to them.  It will become second nature and you will begin to wonder what the fuss was about.  Above enjoy your practice and begin to enjoy meeting people.

Good Luck –I would love to hear how you get on!

PATIENCE

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains
Dutch Proverb

Dictionary Definition

1.the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2.an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.

3.quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession I wrote that one of the great ways you could be good boss was to have patience. I said

“Don’t rush into panic decision making because you feel anxious.  Its a natural reaction but it really will not help – a panic reaction is not likely to be the best one.    Take time to make decisions properly.  Gather the facts, seek the views of your staff.  Then when you have made the decision take time to explain it to them, if you can.”

But gathering the facts takes time and as a society, we have lost the art of waiting for things – if we want something we want it now!  We want to make the important decision and we want to make it now – we fear being accused of procrastinating.  But getting to the point where we can make the right decision is not procrastinating.   Often we do feel frustrated and we can feel angry and, if the frustration continues, we feel stressed! But to learn to wait for the right moment and to have patience furthers peace of mind and makes it easier for people to be around us.   If we are patient, we release from our shoulders an unnecessary burden of anxiety and control. To choose patience is to have wisdom

Patience itself is important – its often described as a core virtue in religion or spiritual practices. For example, Job is a figure that appears in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible and the Qur’an; his story is considered a profound religious work. At its core, the theme is the co-existence of evil and God and the application of patience is highlighted as the antidote to the earthly struggles caused by that co-existence.    In Buddhism, patience  is one of the “perfections”  that a bodhisattva trains in and practices to realize perfect enlightenment. Patience is recognized within Hinduism in the Bhagavad Gita. In both Hinduism and Buddhism there is a particular emphasis on meditation, aspects of which lead to a natural state of mindfulness that is conducive to patient, effective and well-organized thought.

You are certainly more likely exercise patience if you know how to relax and we have information about a simple relaxation technique at this link.

Meanwhile when someone has deal with bad news during any kind of change, remember the words of an old pop song!

Have a little patience
My heart is numb, has no feeling
So while I’m still healing
Just try and have a little patience

(Take That – Patience)

So now all you have to do is go away and practice! practice! practice!

BEING A GREAT BOSS IN A RECESSION – STAYING CALM

In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession we wrote about the need to stay calm.  Here is the quote.

“Staying Calm

Try being more relaxed and appearing more positive even in these challenging times.  If necessary use a relaxation technique to help you control your own anxiety – don’t spook your staff!   Be realistic but don’t panic – it just frightens people!  Remember Type B personalities succeed just as often as Type A in this day and age and they live longer to enjoy it”

Here courtesy of  Maharishi Ayurveda are some ideas that might help

“Seven Ways to Stay Calm in Tough Times

There is an inspiring chain mail circulating on the internet these days. It tells you to follow the 90-10 rule for a happier life. The 90-10 equation is as follows:

90% is what happens to you-it’s out of your control. 10% is how you react to what happens to you-that is totally in your control.

What can be better advice than this in times that are truly uncertain, and fraught with situations that seem beyond control?………..!

Here are some specific ayurvedic stress-management tips to help you cope better in troubled times:

Reach Out: Loneliness aggravates anxiety. Be in the company of those you love. But instead of merely spending time with family and friends, take steps to rejuvenate your relationships. The best way to do this is to give more of yourself in terms of time, energy and attention.

Take control of your responses: An instant way to calm jittery nerves is to start breathing slow and deep. This brings down the heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, sending a relaxation response throughout your body and mind. Inhale so that you can feel the air right reach into your abdomen. Take care not to breathe too fast…keep the pace easy and the rhythm steady. The use of an…essential oil at this time-lavender, rose, jasmine …. are good choices-will support your deep breathing activity. Do this at least twice a day for 10 minutes each, and you will experience a new sense of bliss.

Eat Right: Ayurveda believes that you really are what you eat. And if that is true, then eat foods that help you relax. Choose foods that help beat back stress-generating free radicals. All fresh and seasonal fruits, lightly cooked and spiced vegetables and whole grains will repair your tired mind and body, carrying the goodness down to the tiniest tissues. Antioxidant herbs replete with nature’s own intelligence know how to combat this potent enemy, and can help you fight it too. ….

Drink Up: At least 8 glasses of water a day are essential for efficient flushing out of disease-causing toxic matter from your system….

Exercise: Moderate exercise is a great way to de-stress. Yoga, which is an integral part of ayurvedic healing, is a way to exercise all parts of your body, while also soothing nerves and balancing the mind….

Sleep Well: Recognize the sleep robbers around you. Life these days is filled with more worries than just bill-paying and house-cleaning. They can steal the sleep away from your eyes, leaving you feeling unhappy and unwell the next morning. Ayurveda has some excellent tips on how to get quality rest.The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends these sleep-friendly steps:

  • Try to go to bed early — between 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. This period is ruled by the Kapha dosha, which is associated with calm and restfulness.
  • Give yourself a massage every day with an ayurvedic oil-it soothes the joints and nerves, bringing good sleep.
  • Poppy seeds have a pleasant sedative effect-add them to your diet.
  • Favor peaceful, calming activities before bed.
  • Before going to bed, sip Vata Tea in warm milk. Or try the Slumber Time Tea. Both the Blissful Sleep herbal supplement and the Worry Free herbal supplement nourish Prana Vata, which regulates mental activity. “

Meditate: The daily practice of …..Meditation can not only drive stress out of your mind, but also change your life in dramatic ways.  “

You can also try the relaxation technique we published here at Wisewolf Talking earlier – How to relax