10 Simple Ways To Improve Your People Skills

10 Simple Ways To Improve Your People Skills

We interact with others every day of our lives, so why not learn more confident, influential ways to improve our interactions?
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Interacting with people is a part of every day life. We can't make it through a day without making some sort of social interaction with words, body language, touch, etc. Humans are social creatures. We crave interaction, we desire the best for ourselves, we want to be noticed--admired. Deep down, we all want these same things.

But if we don't understand the best way to communicate and interact well with one another, how will we be able to best achieve our goals and ambitions? We are innately social, but how we interact socially can make or break us...or another person.

So what do we do when we begin to realize that our interactions aren't improving or benefiting us? When we cannot persuade, encourage, or be admired in our day to day lives? How do we make our voice more heard and respected?

People skills are an incredibly necessary and vital part of our lives, especially when it comes to getting what we want. After all, we all go into conversations and interactions expecting to gain a benefit from them. We are all driven by our selfish desires, whether we realize it or not, so why not learn to control these skills and use them even more to our advantage?

There are a good handful of books out there that will really help you hone in on people skills--skills you may already be doing without realizing it--and help you better control and think about them in order to help lead you to eventual success. The books go much further in detail on a variety of skills and ways to use them than this article does, but below are a list of key components that anyone and everyone can start using, bit by bit.

If you need more confidence, if you're looking for more recognition, admiration, or power in a situation, or if you just want to elevate your self-image or simply want to do better in effectively and efficiently interacting with others day to day, here are some key ways to improve your people skills:

Smile.

It may seem redundant, because obviously smiling is super friendly and welcoming in social situations, but the problem is, so few people actually do smile when they're talking or listening to someone else. Think about a time when a simple smile from someone you knew or from a stranger lit up your day, maybe even put a smile on your own face. You felt accepted, noticed, appreciated by that simple smile, and because it elevated your mood, you were more willing to talk, laugh, or be productive about something. Smiling when talking to someone or out in social settings makes you and the other person feel confident, it boosts both of your moods, and more than likely you guys will continue to interact more in a positive way. Next time you're talking to someone, force yourself a smile into the conversation, and watch the magic begin.

Make eye contact.

Eye contact is incredibly important in conversation and interaction. It shows you're focused, interested, and intent on the conversation with the person. Sometimes, it may be intimidating to do, but it can make both of you feel important and more confident. And they will probably reciprocate the eye contact, and you'll be taken more seriously. (Plus, you can learn a lot more about a person when you look into their eyes; cliche, but true.) The eyes are the window to the soul, as they say.

Remember names, and use them frequently.

Hearing our name is like music to our ears. Humans are selfish, so what better way to elate this than by someone calling us by our name (in a positively unexpected way, too?). What's even better is first meeting a person and they remember your name right off the bat, or the next time you see them, they address you first by your name. And if you don't remember their name, you feel bad about it and maybe finally try to make the effort to remember their name for future meetings. Even if you aren't good with names, you can still learn them quickly and use them confidently. Maybe keep a journal of names on you, repeat it several times to yourself, connect the name and person to something, etc. But if you can remember and use a person's name in conversation, you not only catch their attention, but you boost their (and maybe your) confidence, and you can start being taken more seriously.

Compliment, and mean it.

Compliments are like candy. We eat up them up, we love them, we crave them. So why not compliment others who desire them? After all, the best compliments are the sincere, unexpected ones. People can tell when a compliment is forced and isn't meant--or when one is using flattery, especially excessively--and they'll shut down and stop listening, talking, or overall interacting as enthusiastically. So next time you're in a social setting, compliment someone sincerely and be genuinely interested in what you are complimenting them about. It not only grabs their attention and makes them appreciative, it also helps to lighten the mood and make conversation go easier from there.

Listen intently.

Listening is a big problem for many people. We always want to interject, to speak our minds, to hear ourselves talk about what we want to talk about. Many people even spend half a conservation gazing off in the distance, replying a simple "Mhmm" or "Yeah" or "Okay" in response to gaps in the other person talking, to give the impression we are listening. Of course, we've all felt the adverse effects of this tactic, which is why, to better improve people skills, we have to be a listener. Listening in a conversation is as important, if not many times more important, than speaking. It shows the person that we care, we are interested, that we are paying attention and actually want to be a part of the interaction. If we spend half a conversation waiting on our turn to speak and say what we want, rather than listening, it becomes obvious to the other person. It makes the interaction less sincere and effective, and may make them avoid you in future confrontations if you just talk, talk, talk, and talk about what you want, especially. Next time, be sure to listen, reply with questions to what they're saying, and show your genuine interest in the person's words; it'll open a smoother doorway for the conversation and future ones (plus, it just makes you more mature and professional when you pay attention to what the other person says).

Ask questions.

And when you ask the questions, try to make sure that they are well thought out, related to the conversation, and that you are interested genuinely in the question you are asking. Asking questions fulfills the subconscious selfish desires of the other person to want to talk about themselves, and it also shows you are being respectful and sincere when you ask important questions. It shows you're listening and makes you appear more mature. It can also lead to smoother conversation thereafter, and as you get to know the person, you get to understand them more and gain more of a trust between you two. We want to talk about ourselves and what interests us, so it's very respectable when someone asks sincere, thought-out questions about such things.

Focus less on "I" and more on "You."

Since we all are innately selfish, we have a desire to want to talk about me me me. And since other people are innately selfish, they don't want to hear you talk only about yourself because they want to talk about themselves, too. To be a great conversationalist, you have to forcibly push aside the desire to talk only about yourself, and you have to start focusing on the other person. You'll seem more interesting because you are (hopefully) interested in them and what they have to say. Going back to asking questions, this just shows further interest and allows them to keep speaking and soak up their selfish desires. In fact, don't be dismayed that having good people skills means talking less about yourself to inflate your ego and more about listening and talking about the other person, because you may actually learn something you didn't expect by focusing more on them.

Watch your body language.

It's one of those, you say "yes" when shaking your head "no" kind of thing. If your body language shows anything other than what you are trying to say, this can lead to problems in the conversation. If it also over accentuates what you're saying or feeling, this can also cause problems. Becoming more aware of your body language when speaking or listening can save a lot of confusion and can even steer the conversation how you'd like. Don't cross your arms, don't tap your foot or fingers for a conversation to end, don't gaze into the distance. You want to seem interested, you want to seem professional, and shutting yourself off and being rude with your body language is not a people skill--it's a people deterrent. Nod your head while they speak, shake hands, smile, point your feet and body directly towards them, talk with hands or keep them to your side. Body language many times says more than what your words do.

Don't argue or be aggressive.

Big rule of thumb: don't be aggressive. This means do not be aggressive in your tone, choice of words, body language and actions, etc. No one wants to converse with someone who's just going to be rude or mean the whole time. When someone raises their voice, we raise ours, and then it just becomes loud bickering and subconsciously our body raises Adrenalin in us as our voice gets louder, whether we want it to or not or whether we're angry or not, and this can lead to rash, not thought out decisions. Aggressive comments or actions can quickly turn any interaction sour. So if you do start to get heated in a conversation, take a deep breath and a step back (maybe even literally) and think about what you'll say or do physically next that could set the interaction in a more negative or positive reaction. Think about how they would respond, and question if it's worth it to be aggressive or not, because more than likely, it's not.

Leave on a good note.

This is incredibly important. I mean, all of this is incredibly important, but just like first impressions matter, so do end notes to that first interaction (or any). If you use pretty much every one of these skills as you end an interaction (ex. smile, be complimentary and appreciative, use their name, wave, be cheery, look them in the eyes as you say goodbye, etc etc etc), then that'll be the last and freshest thing they remember of you. So, leaving on a good note keeps them happy, keeps them thinking about you, and makes them want to interact again with you because, whether it started badly or not, leaving on a good note shows thoughtfulness and maturity--especially if the interaction initially didn't start off well. And if it did start and go well, leaving on a good note gives an even greater impression of you.

If you're interested in looking further into these simple people skills, here's a couple of books that these key points were drawn from that you can check out to continue to improve your people's skills!

How To Win Friends and Influence People

How To Have Confidence and Power In Dealing With People

Crucial Conversations

Don't be limited to just these few books or the tips in this article! There are many out there that go over similar principles in different ways, but these are just three good starters.

Now get out there, be confident, and go and get 'em.

Cover Image Credit: MaxPixel

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Being Skinny Isn’t As Great As You Think

A reflection on the struggles that come with a person's body image.

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Body image. It is one of the most powerful and harmful things on a person's self-esteem. Society and media have placed so many images of what we "should" look like. How we need to be eating, exercising, dressing, EVERYTHING. According to others, we always need to change ourselves or second guess how we see our bodies.

For as long as I can remember everyone has called me "tiny". Sure, being small and being able to fit into a lot of clothes is fun, but being tiny or thin isn't always a good thing. I am your typical college kid eating whatever I want whenever I want.

The only difference between myself and other students is that I almost never gain weight. Some girls or guys may read that part and think that I have a gift or blessing. That I can do whatever I want and still stay small and "pretty".

Have you ever finished a meal then looked at yourself and felt like something wasn't right? Some people in today's world and in history will spend time looking at themselves and seeing multiple things that are wrong with their body.

Some handled that by exercising and losing weight or gaining muscle, others have gone as far as throwing up their food or taking pills that force their bodies not to gain ANY weight. Hearing about that from adults or doctors seems crazy but people do it all the time. Possibly the people around you and you would never know.

I went to middle school with a girl that always finished her lunch walking to the trash and then taking herself to the bathroom. She wouldn't come back to our table until the lunch bell rang. Most people didn't give a second thought to this situation, me however, I followed her one day. What I saw next was something I wasn't prepared for as a 7th grader.

Two sinks, a mirror, and three stalls. One was occupied and the rest were empty. I walked into crying and nothing else. The girl had already taken care of her food and was trying to gather herself after what she just did.

People told her that she was gaining weight, that she was "chunky" or fat. She wasn't the only girl around that dealt with horrible comments like that. It's also not just girls dealing with issues like this.

Boys and men are constantly judged and only "ideal" if they are muscular. Young boys are called pigs or disgusting only because of their weight and looking bigger than the "average" person. Men are downgraded to a lesser meaning when they are thin and "stick like".

Even as we grow up kids and sometimes adults say things without realizing the effect. Being called tiny or skinny all of the time can make someone just feel small. Getting comments to eat a hamburger and fries can make someone feel insulted.

Having comments made about your skin or hair and people making assumptions about you can make someone feel misunderstood or judged. Being told that you need to eat more or go tanning because your body doesn't "look right" can torture a person.

There are so many things that play into a person's self-esteem. Average size, too small or too big is simply just words coming out of someone's mouth that don't understand the true beauties in life.

Do you ever look at a big oak tree and say, "You're too fat, you should really lose some weight."

Do you ever see a flower that blooms smaller than a quarter and tells it, "You are tiny! Why don't you go eat a burrito or something?"

No. You probably don't. Just replace the oak tree with mom and see how that feels coming out of your mouth. Replace flower with a teenage girl and see if you can actually say all of those things. Imagine if you were a parent and it was your little girl or boy that you were talking to and you said those words. Would you be happy with yourself? Would you feel guilty? Would you push them to make their body unhealthy just to fit society's standards?

I hope that you wouldn't

There are so many of us out there being told what to do with ourselves in order to be happy with our bodies. How can someone else determine our happiness for us? I have personally gotten to the point of breaking.

I see friends on a daily basis that want to change their body because it's "ugly". Many of those thoughts are because of things society has put in our minds, and not what truly matters.

As a society, we need to push towards total acceptance. Now, I am not meaning the sexuality or ethnicity type of acceptance because those are important on a different level. Respecting each other and our bodies are something that needs to be understood and enforced as much as sexuality acceptance is pushed.

I want to live in a world and raise children in a world that doesn't make people feel horrible about their bodies. It is THEIR body, not ours. The only body we should be worrying about is our own. I want my future daughter to grow and love playing dress up without wondering if her body looks right in what she's wearing. I want my future son to go to gym class and be able to do only one pull up with all of the other boys cheering him on to do better.

Is that too much to ask?

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