One of the most important skills to grow your business and thrive successfully in any workplace is definitely people skills.
And NO. This doesn’t only apply to work that involves face to face communication.
How do I know this? For starters, I have personally turned down potential service providers because I was not satisfied with their communication.
I have also had awful experiences via email communication with a few companies.
Interestingly, I noticed that most of the issues I had with the companies bordered around two things:
- They did not understand my needs or requirements (and didn’t bother to find a better way to communicate)
- They were quick to interrupt because they were more concerned about getting my business than seeking how they can provide a personalised quality service.
So, what does the term ‘people skills’ actually imply? I found and paraphrased a good definition of people skills below.
People skills are patterns of behavioural interactions that enhance your ability to communicate with people in a friendly way, when in professional environments, or in your private life.
People skills also involve a number of other skills. How you listen for verbal and nonverbal cues matter. How you communicate in writing or when speaking is vital. Oh,…..and my favourite is this:
Your focus should be on how you can offer a helpful solution and not just what you can gain, as I wrote about here.
Once people know you care first, you have more or less won their business by at least 50%! I love this way this quote by John Green, highlights the point of making people your focus first.
‘People were created to be loved. Things were made to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used’.
One of the most inspiring stories I came across that drives the point of having people skills home is the success story of Brigette Hyacinth. Her story is quite remarkable. I share her brief quote about her experience below:
‘I quit my job and was down to my last $1000.
I took low paying contracts to get by.
I didn’t care because I was investing in my dreams. I didn’t listen to the naysayers who said “you need to give up.” “You are wasting your time.”
I kept perfecting my craft.
Then, I finally got noticed by someone influential and landed my biggest and most stable contract.
I didn’t meet this person at a business meeting. It was at a supermarket checkout line! I struck up a conversation with his mother and the rest is history.
Sometimes your biggest breakthrough comes from the person or place you least expect it.’
Now, imagine if your workplace or business employs people with this perspective.
People who understand that treating others with care, respect and genuine concern irrespective of where you meet them, can potentially also open the door to a new client.
Such organisations would no doubt thrive successfully!
One of Zig Ziglar’s powerful quotes takes this perspective a bit further. He said,
‘You don’t build a business; you build people and people build the business’.
In other words, when you inspire people, they have the potential to build or promote your business. That said, you cannot inspire people without understanding how to relate with them. This is another instance where having good people skills would be very useful.
So, to effectively influence others, you need to have and continuously improve your people skills and we would focus on helpful ways to do this later.
First, let us look at 10 reasons you should be improving your people skills.
1. Great communication skills.
As you engage more with people, you become much better at being articulate, which is a prized quality in today’s workplace. You are also in a better position to communicate with different groups of people to get your message across with ease.
2. Better quality of relationships.
Those with good people skills are often referred to as ‘people persons’. They have understood the basic concept of having friends, which is to first show yourself as being friendly. People tend to warm up to warm people. You will have healthier relationships because you have learnt to use the art of communication to understand and relate positively with people you do life with.
3. Increased quality of life/happiness.
Having people skills would most likely guarantee a healthy social life because people would naturally enjoy hanging out with you. But even more, having a healthy social life has been associated with longevity, happiness and quality of life.
Developmental psychologist Susan Pinker in her TED Talk, revealed through the findings of her study, how in-person social interactions are not only necessary for human happiness, but could also be one of the keys to a long and healthy good life.
4. Improved patience.
As you learn to relate better with others, your people skills improve. You also learn to be more patient with others and less easily offended. You become an asset because you have mastered how to keep your cool when everyone else is losing theirs in stressful situations.
5. More trustworthy.
People can easily sense if you really care about them or just want to use them. With good people skills, you don’t have to fake your communication with others and they would easily be able to sense you are genuinely interested and trust you.
6. Effective listening skills.
Those with good people skills know that hearing and active listening are two different things. They have learnt to show genuine care by listening to understand first, before seeking to be understood. The outcome here is that such people end up getting better results from their communication and get further satisfaction from seeing the positive reaction of their listeners.
7. Good judgement of people.
As you improve in your people skills, you are more likely to be a better judge of character. This is highly beneficial as you will be more equipped to wisely select associates and friends. Being a good judge of character would also enable you to make sound decisions, reactions and responses when dealing with people.
8. A better awareness and understanding of body language.
Our bodies have a way of speaking a thousand more words than we are actually saying with our mouths. The more skilled you get at engaging with people, the more you will be able to pick up familiar body language with ease and of course, respond appropriately.
9. Improved leadership skills.
You cannot effectively lead people you don’t know how to engage with. Having great people skills will definitively enhance your leadership style and potential. It will help you gain the trust of your followers and motivate them to produce some of their best results.
10. Good negotiation and persuasive skills.
Having good people skills will surely come in handy when it’s time to negotiate job contracts, trade deals or when dealing with customers. You will be more equipped to persuade others when pitching a sale or making a convincing argument about your viewpoints.
To improve your people skills, the three areas you should focus on are empathy, active listening and effective communication.
Work on your active listening skills.
Try to think about the last meaningful conversation you had with another person where you felt heard and got the response you needed from them.
That feeling is something worth cherishing because the common culture these days is to abruptly cut people off when they are trying to make a point.
Such rude behaviour occurs when instead of actually listening, you are just passively hearing words.
Even worse, you are busy mentally formulating your response and when it is ready, you throw it in without so much as a thought to how the other person feels. This behaviour would only lead to unhealthy communication and poor results.
While you might have pertinent information that needs to be passed across, the truth is that people do not tend to care how much or what you know, until they know how much you care.
They tend to recognise the heart of those who really care and respond well to them.
If you truly want to effectively communicate with others, learn to listen actively.
You can do this by fixing your eyes on the speaker, thinking about what they are saying and not how to respond, then keeping quiet and still, while listening.
Another good practice is to acknowledge their points and concerns first after they are done speaking, before giving your response.
Develop and use empathy often.
The ability to show empathy in an honest way will improve your people skills. Empathy is the ability to understand how another person feels by being able to see things from their perspective.
A vital part of showing empathy which is often missed, is that you don’t need to have the same viewpoints of the other person. You just have to be able to acknowledge and validate their concerns to show understanding.
A good quote by Maya Angelou to remember is that ‘people might forget your words, but they will always remember how you made them feel.’
To use empathy effectively when communicating with people, try to practise active listening, examine your attitude when speaking and listening, and learn to ask more about their experiences and opinions.
You will begin to notice trust, honesty and better cooperation from your listener.
Learn to convey information in a useful way.
The main point of speaking is to communicate information. If you cannot achieve this, then you have wasted your speaking time. A useful tool for communicating I learnt is the mnemonic THINK.
T- is it True?
H — is it Helpful?
I — is it Inspiring?
N — is it Necessary?
K — is it Kind?
This guide will help you meet your audience where they are and engage with them.
Also, try to take breaks when talking to others to ensure they are still with you and to check they understand the information you are giving.
Take home points
Your people skills will improve as you learn to relate and engage with people in a genuine and caring way.
The people you inspire could potentially open the door for a massive business breakthrough or promotion at your workplace.
Having great people skills will help you improve your communication skills, grow as a person, be a great leader and be a powerful negotiator, among other benefits.
You can grow your people skills by using empathy more, practising active listening and learning to give others information in a way they can understand and respond to you.
Before you leave….
Do you feel like you are always out of time daily and want to make a change? Take the TIME CHALLENGE….Use this FREE 10-point checklist to unmake time from things that don’t add value to you and create more time for things you love!
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