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151 quick ideas to improve your people skills

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  • 1. 151Quick Ideas toImprove YourPeople Skills
  • 2. This page intentionally left blank
  • 3. 151Quick Ideas toImprove YourPeople Skills Bob Dittmer and Stephanie McFarland Franklin Lakes, NJ
  • 4. Copyright © 2009 by Robert E. Dittmer and Stephanie McFarland All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International CopyrightConventions. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any formor by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, orby any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented,without written permission from the publisher, The Career Press. 151 Q UICK I DEAS TO I MPROVE Y OUR P EOPLE S KILLS EDITED BY KARA REYNOLDS TYPESET BY MICHAEL FITZGIBBON Cover design by Jeff Piasky Printed in the U.S.A. by Book-mart Press To order this title, please call toll-free 1-800-CAREER-1 (NJ and Canada:201-848-0310) to order using VISA or MasterCard, or for further informationon books from Career Press. The Career Press, Inc., 3 Tice Road, PO Box 687, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417 www.careerpress.com Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Dittmer, Robert E., 1950– 151 quick ideas to improve your people skills / by Robert E. Dittmer and Stephanie McFarland. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 978-1-60163-037-7 1. Interpersonal communication. 2. Interpersonal relations. I. McFarland,Stephanie, 1968– II. Title. III. Title: One hundred fifty-one quick ideas to improveyour people skills. BF637.C45D583 2009 158.26--dc22 2008035812
  • 5. Chapter Title Here Please 5 ContentsHow to Use This Book 13Introduction 15 1. Why Interpersonal Skills Are So Important 17 2. People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care 18 3. Social Intelligence vs. Technical Knowledge 19 4. Be Socially Aware 21 5. Relationships Are Priority 22 6. The Nature of Your Relationships 23 7. Envision What You Want From Your Relationships 2 4 8. Behave in a Way That Secures Relationships 25 9. Look for Ways to Serve Others 26 10. Don’t Ingratiate 27 11. Apply the Pygmalion Effect 28 12. Believe That All People Start With Good Intentions 29 13. Give ’Em the Benefit of the Doubt 30
  • 6. 6 151 Quick Ideas for Start-Up Entrepreneurs14. Live by the Golden Rule 3115. Practice the Platinum Rule 3216. Always Look Toward Solutions 3317. Have Reasonable Expectations of Yourself 3418. Have Reasonable Expectations of Others 3519. Be Principle-Centered 3620. Allow Others to Hold to Their Principles 3721. Set Boundaries 3822. Defend Your Boundaries 3923. Be Genuine 4024. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously 4125. Have a Sense of Humor 4226. Laugh at Yourself 4327. Cherish Your Goofs 4428. Social Skills Are Always a Work in Progress 4529. Your Character—and Your Reputation— Is Your Calling Card 4630. Be Authentic 4731. Act With Integrity 4832. Build Trust 4933. Keep Your Word 5034. Be Straight Up 5135. View Discernment as a Gift 5236. Always Show Respect 53
  • 7. Chapter Title Here Please 737. Practice Tolerance 5438. Choose Words Carefully 5539. Words: I vs. We 5740. Use Kind Words 5841. Don’t Kill Relationships With Your Behavior 5942. Do Not Gossip 6043. Don’t Be Dismissive 6144. Don’t Be Condescending 6245. Don’t Be Manipulative 6346. Don’t Make Assumptions 6447. Don’t Be Pessimistic 6548. Don’t Be a Cynic 6649. Don’t Be Over-Reactive 6750. Don’t Be Domineering 6851. Don’t Be Overly Opinionated 6952. Don’t Be Overly Aggressive 7053. Help Others Grow 7154. Believe in Others 7155. Wage Peace in Your Relationships 7256. Be a Peacemaker Between Friends 7357. Respect Different Personality Types 7458. Understand Different Styles 7559. Recognize That Styles Differ From Opinions 7660. Know Your Own Style 77
  • 8. 8 151 Quick Ideas for Start-Up Entrepreneurs61. Stretch Beyond Your Style 7862. Embrace Different Styles 7963. Determine if You Are Shy 8064. Overcome Shyness 8165. Overcome Feeling Inferior 8266. Overcome Feeling Intimidated 8467. Don’t Be Too Talkative 8568. Listen, Don’t Talk 8669. Get Out of Your Own Way 8670. Douse the Domineering 8771. Don’t Be Reactive 8872. Tackle the Intimidator 8973. Strive for Live Interaction 9074. Practice Face-to-Face Communication 9175. At Least Make It Live 9276. Beware of E-mail 9377. Remember That People Are Creatures of Emotion 9478. Fill the Emotional Bank Account 9579. Make Friends 9680. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence 9781. Remember Names 9882. Look ’Em in the Eye 9983. Give Your Undivided Attention 10084. Be “Present” 101
  • 9. Chapter Title Here Please 9 85. Practice Good Listening 102 86. Connect With People Through Questions 104 87. Be Careful With Your Opinions 105 88. Withhold Judgment 106 89. See Both Sides 107 90. Edify, Edify, Edify 109 91. Give Honesty With an Equal Dose of Compassion 110 92. Help Others Be Heard 111 93. Help Others Be Understood 112 94. Allow People to Save Face 113 95. Encourage 114 96. Encourage With Words and Perspective 115 97. Pat Others on the Back 117 98. Be a Cheerleader 118 99. Help Others Achieve Their Goals 119100. Let Others Shine 120101. Look for Reasons to Celebrate 122102. Remember Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Such 123103. Fill Your Own Emotional Bank Account 124104. Feed Your Own Needs 125105. Call on Your Support Group 126106. Keep Honest Company 127107. Get Inspired 128108. Find Friends Who Edify You in Your Absence 129
  • 10. 10 151 Quick Ideas for Start-Up Entrepreneurs109. Find a Class Act to Follow 130110. Take a “People Break” 131111. Sharpen the Saw by Sharpening Your Mind 133112. Get Away From Your Desk for Lunch 134113. Attend Social Events 135114. Handle Conflict With Confidence 136115. Can’t We All Just Get Along? 137116. 365 Opportunities for Conflict— 366 in a Leap Year 138117. See Conflict or Disagreement as an Opportunity 140118. See Rough Starts as an Opportunity 141119. Breathe! 142120. Give Yourself a Pep Talk 143121. Have the Difficult Conversations Beforehand 144122. Handle Conflict One-on-One 145123. Having Your Say Doesn’t Mean Always Having Your Way 146124. Learn to Eat Crow 147125. Bring the Peace Pipe 148126. Break Bread 149127. Fight Fair 150128. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts; They Can Be a Path to the Dark Side 151129. Don’t Take Things Personally 153130. Don’t Make Things Personal 154
  • 11. Chapter Title Here Please 11131. He Who Keeps His Mouth Shut, Keeps His Life 155132. Dial Down the Volume 156133. Watch Your Body Language—It Speaks Volumes 157134. Give People Space 158135. What Goes Over the Devil’s Back, Always Comes Under His Belly 159136. There Is No Right or Wrong 160137. Winner Never Takes All 161138. Fight for the Relationship 162139. Get Clear 163140. Present, Don’t Persuade 164141. Ask, Don’t Tell 165142. Look for Middle Ground 166143. Start From a Point of Commonality 167144. Some Nuts Are Worth Cracking 168145. Put the “Moose on the Table” 169146. Pick Your Battles 170147. Mend Fences 171148. Forgive Yourself for Failings 172149. Forgive Others as Well 174150. Be the First to Offer the Olive Branch— or the Peace Pipe 175151. Every Difficult Relationship Has Lessons 176Index 179About the Authors 187
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  • 13. How to Use This Book Every quick idea in this book is tested and true. The ideascome from the collected experiences and wisdom of hundreds ofpeople—well beyond just the authors. And they are presentedhere to help you learn how to better create lasting relationshipswith others through improving your people skills. The book is designed to be consumed piecemeal—that is, insmall bites. So don’t try all of these ideas at once. Read the bookquickly through to gain a quick impression of the ideas here, andthen start picking out those that seem to be immediately helpful,and try them out. Some of these ideas are in sequence, and thosewill make logical sense to you when you read them. Later, rou-tinely go back and review the others, and pick a few more to try.And so on.... Every 90 days or so, revisit this book for some new ideas ortechniques. As your situation changes you may well find usableideas that you discounted earlier. 13
  • 14. 151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills Remember, all of these ideas and concepts are proventechniques—proven by research and other professionals aroundthe country and around the world. They have worked for others,and they can work for you! 14
  • 15. Introduction Have you ever found yourself saying, “Work would be great ifit weren’t for the darn people”? Yeah, we’ve all felt that way fromtime to time—and, often, more times than we would like. Butpeople are a fact of life, and they are a fact of work. And to beeffective in both, you have to learn to deal with them—effectively. And that’s where this book comes in. It is your comprehensivesource for building better working—and personal—relationships.Whether you just need to tweak your approach for making con-nections with people in the workplace, or you’re looking for waysto handle an ongoing conflict with a coworker, 151 Quick Ideas toImprove Your People Skills can help. The tips and insights shared in this book cover four key areasof people skills: understanding why your social intelligence is criti-cal to your career success, understanding your own interactionstyle (and how it affects others), how to build goodwill and emo-tional equity with people, and how to manage conflict—and thrivethrough it! For example, you’ve probably been taught the Golden Rule,but are you familiar with the Platinum Rule? Do you know how 15
  • 16. 151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skillspowerful the Pygmalion Effect can be in working with people? Doyou approach people as creatures of logic, or emotion? Do youknow how to set boundaries? Do you have reasonable expectationsof yourself when dealing with others? 151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills covers these top-ics, and much, much more. It gives you a full-spectrum approachto dealing with people in just about every situation—and how toget back on track when you fall off the “people skills” wagon. In short, this book is an excellent guide, filled with fun, rel-evant, and practical ideas to which you can relate. So dig in andenjoy! And start learning what it takes to build better working—and personal—relationships. 16
  • 17. Quick Idea 1 1 Why Interpersonal Skills Are So Important A full litany of proverbsexist across continents and cul- Assignmenttures that tell us that our in-teractions with people mean Before you read on, con-more than anything else we do sider the people with whomin this life. In fact, author you interact on a daily orDaniel Goleman says that our weekly basis, both personallyemotional intelligence (EQ) and professionally. What iswith people is more important your relationship with them?than our IQ. Have you carefully cultivated For example, you’ve prob- and nurtured those relation-ably heard this one: “People ships? Do you feel good aboutdon’t know how much you those relationships?know, until they know howmuch you care.” And as thegreat Dale Carnegie once said: “People are not creatures of logic.They are creatures of emotion.” Our interactions with people are the signatures of our lives,and that includes our careers, of course—most particularly ourwork relationships, considering we spend a minimum of eight hoursof every day on the job. For us to be effective in our jobs, we haveto deal with people, and we have to deal with them effectively to besuccessful in our work. It’s one big circular package. The reward from good working relationships goes beyond theoffice, too. When we have good relationships at work, it affects therest of our lives, from how much energy we have when we gethome at night to the attitudes we bring home to our families. 17
  • 18. 151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills People with solid interpersonal skills know how to build effec-tive relationships, and they know that EQ is more important thanIQ. They know it’s the currency that buys more reward in lifethan any gold coin or greenback ever produced. Epilogue Who you know is important, but having a network of solid relationships is even more important. To paraphrase a popu- lar advertisement: You need people. People Don’t Care How Much 2 You Know Until They Know How Much You Care In developing relation-ships, people first need to Assignmentcare about you. And in or- Think about your own ex-der to care about you, they periences with others. Do youoften need to understand that recognize people with whomyou care about them. After you have good, solid relation-all, relationships need to be ships that were developed be-reciprocal to be effective. cause you discovered they really We see this daily with cared about you? Did that leadstudents at a university where you to reciprocate? Do you haveI teach. Students walk into other, weak relationships inthe classroom wanting to have which you don’t sense that thean academic, learning rela- other person really cares?tionship with the professor, 18
  • 19. Quick Ideas 1 to 3but are often not sure whether the professor really cares aboutthem or is just there to get the lecture in and go back to research-ing. The good professors find ways to communicate to studentsearly on that they truly care about the students’ successes. Those that do so find students engaging them before and afterclass, e-mailing them with thoughts and ideas, and doing morethan the minimum in class to be successful. It makes for a superblearning environment where everyone benefits—even the profes-sor. The professor benefits by having students engaged and in-volved, which is much better than having lumps sit in the classroomand merely listen. The students benefit by knowing that the pro-fessor is there to be a part of their learning process in a personalway, not just as a role or function. We’ve seen many professor/student relationships last years, evenafter college is done and the student is off to a profession. Thesestudents are often great advocates for the university and the pro-grams the professor teaches. Epilogue Important and effective relationships are built on a foun- dation of interest and concern for the other party. If you don’t care about them, why should they care about you? 3 Social Intelligence vs. Technical Knowledge Though we spend the vast majority of our lives developing ourtechnical capabilities to make us attractive in the job market, fewof us put specific focus on developing our people skills. 19
  • 20. 151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills But it is the peopleskills—also known as social Assignmentintelligence—that deter- Using the description ofmine our overall long-term social intelligence given here,success. After all, we don’t rate yourself on each factor andwork in a vacuum; we work assess how well you measure up.with other people, in a Then make a plan to addressmyriad of situations and any shortcomings.circumstances. Think about it for a mo-ment. Just about anyone can learn technical skills associated withhis or her area of interest. Add practice to that knowledge and youget technical proficiency. Technical skills require us to understandand implement concepts, theories, and tactical knowledge, such ashow to work with a specific business or industrial machine. Butthese do not have opinions, experiences, values, emotions—the thingsthat make working with people both difficult and rewarding. Although employers today certainly demand technical profi-ciency from their employees, they require so much more. Theywant people who can communicate, show leadership, solve prob-lems, know who they are in terms of strengths and weaknesses, areconfident, can adapt and flex with rapidly changing work environments,and have a sense of energy when implementing the day-to-day. They also want employees who are socially sensitive, knowhow to build rapport, and influence others in a way that movesthemselves and others forward. This takes social intelligence, whichmeans being aware of who you are—the good, the bad, and theugly. It also means knowing how to manage yourself—your en-ergy, your emotions, and your reactions. And it means having theability to see things from others’ perspectives and build relation-ships through all kinds of situations. In short, having technical expertise is not enough. To be suc-cessful today, you must be socially intelligent. The good news isthat social intelligence is something you can develop and practiceevery day, and fine-tune throughout your life. 20
  • 21. Quick Ideas 3 to 4 Epilogue Employers today want employees who are socially sensi- tive, know how to build rapport, and influence others in a way that moves themselves and others forward. 4 Be Socially Aware It is important for you torecognize that any good team Assignmentor effective group of people is Look around you. Wheredependent on social interac- are the networks, both formaltions—both personal and pro- and informal, and who is infessional. As a consequence, you them? Which ones are impor-need to understand that there tant to your success? Howare always set patterns of inter- can you join them?actions that we call networks.These networks exist on a for-mal and informal basis. Formal networks are those established by organizations: net-works of employees who work together, who work for specific su-pervisors, who interact with designated others by their jobs andjob descriptions. The organization dictates who interacts withwhom. Informal networks are social in nature, and can be the moreimportant of the two types. These networks are social in that peoplewho interact in these networks are self-selected. They choose withwhom they will interact rather than have others, such as an organi-zation, choose for them. Some are in organizations; some are outsideorganizations. An example is a group of friends from college who 21
  • 22. 151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skillsmeet occasionally to have lunch and exchange life experiences. Orit could be a group of like professionals (CPAs, for example) whomeet monthly to talk about their profession. It is important to recognize these networks, identify those thatare important to you, and then become part of those networks. Epilogue These social networks are especially important because they set up relationships that can be helpful in the future. 5 Relationships Are Priority Okay, we’ve startedtalking about relationships, Assignmentand here’s why: Your Identify the people withpeople skills lead to impor- whom you already have relation-tant relationships that can ships in your personal and pro-help you in your personal fessional life. Are they good ones?and professional lives. Positive? Helpful to you? It is personal and pro-fessional relationships that make all the difference in hearing aboutthat new job opportunity in another company, or that chance tomeet an important person in your profession, or that opportunityto meet someone who could be important to and in your future (afuture spouse?). So we will be continually talking about people skills as theylead to positive and mutually beneficial relationships in your life. 22
  • 23. Quick Ideas 4 to 6 Epilogue Relationships are the social interactions that make societ- ies function effectively. Gain them and maintain them. 6 The Nature of Your Relationships When you think ofthe people around you, Assignmentparticularly at work, think Make a list of your key rela-of the level of those rela- tionships and then determinetionships. Not all are simi- where they fall on a continuum,larly developed, are they? from solid rapport to recentlySome people you have rap- introduced.port with, some peopleyou’re just getting toknow, and some relationships fall in the middle. As you interact with people, you have to remember that rela-tionships are also subject to the situations and circumstances ofthe moment. How well you handle them together—t
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