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Master the five basic people skills

  • 2001 17 Oct
Master the five basic people skills
All the raw talent in the world won't get you far unless you understand and master basic people skills. Dealing with people, successfully and considerately, is what makes the workplace, the home, and the church places where people are valued and accomplishment can take place.

  1. Give people your attention.

    • Don't try to do two things at once. This is most common in telephone communication, where you attempt to talk and keep working at the computer, shuffling papers, or whatever you were doing when the phone rang. If you begin to take notes while you talk, you can break the habit of doing other things. If someone tries to interrupt you while you're on the phone, don't make eye contact and signal by hand that you are busy. Or push a pad of paper their way to let them write you a message - for later.

    • Call people by name. This is a powerful way to make someone feel special and important. Don't trust your memory. Write down the name when you can and use it several times. When you meet someone with a nametag on, call that person by name.

    • Give verbal and nonverbal cues. Show that you are listening by maintaining eye contact and giving the proper facial expressions. On the phone, an occasional Yes or I see shows the person that you are engaged in the conversation.

  2. Give people the respect you would want them to give you.

    • Quit bad-mouthing and gossiping. It's easy to get caught up in gossip. This is one of the worst things you can do for your own career advancement - as well as your own character development. Words of disrespect have a way of getting back.

    • Eliminate condescending tones or words. When answering the ultimate dumb question, talking with the umpteenth phone solicitor, speaking to children, or the elderly, use a tone of voice that shows respect for them - regardless of the circumstance.

  3. Develop a reputation for dependability.

    • Keep track of your promises. Using a calendar, a Day-Timer, or a simple to-do list, write down all your commitments and follow up on yourself consistently.

    • Return phone calls promptly. This simple habit gives you a lot of credibility. Deal with the worst calls first - to get them out of the way.

    • Don't promise what you can't deliver. A good motto is Under promise, over deliver.

  4. Be willing to go the extra mile.

    • If you can't answer a question, find the person who can.

    • When your manager/spouse/child/co-worker is under stress, ask what you can do to take some of the pressure off him or her.

    • Instead of being satisfied with an OK or adequate job, do what it takes to make it a superior performance.

  5. Put yourself in the other person's shoes.

    • Jesus gave us the Golden Rule for a reason (Luke 6:31). When you purposely stop and try to put yourself in the other person's position, you will, of course, treat that person with more consideration, patience, and kindness.

    • Even if you can do nothing more, empathize with the other person. Understand how he or she is feeling about something. Share his or her burden.

From How to Thrive From 9 to 5 by Mary Whelchel, (c) 1999. Used by permission of Vine Books, an imprint of Servant Publications, P.O. Box 8617, Ann Arbor, MI, 48107, 1-800-458-8505.

Mary Welchel is the host of the national radio program The Christian Working Woman. With more than 25 years' experience in the business world, she has authored 10 books including Quiet Moments for Working Women, The Christian Working Woman, and The Snooze Alarm Syndrome.