Thursday, March 20, 2008

Learning Social Graces for Your Career

You may be one of those people who knows exactly what to say and do in any social setting. You’re at a baseball game with your office co-workers and you can yell at the ump with the best of them. Or you’re at a charity fundraiser cocktail party and you can easily mingle with people you don’t know.

For the rest of us, it can take years of observing other people’s social skills as well as practicing with friends before we get to that comfort level.

Being a journalist early in life taught me that people love to talk about themselves. If you show a genuine interest in people, they’ll usually be happy to talk about what’s important to them. And what’s important to other people should be important to you.

Here’s an example:

At work on Friday a colleague mentions that she is going to Santa Barbara for the weekend. The following Monday you ask her how Santa Barbara was. She’s pleased by this question because you’ve validated her by remembering what she said, and she feels good about you.

A smile is another “little thing” that can go a long way. Smiling at people as you walk around the office invites people to smile back. The next thing you know you’re saying hello to these people and they respond to your greeting.

FYI – Check that your smile is actually a smile. Recently a young person discovered by looking in the mirror that what he thought was a smile probably didn’t appear that way to other people. If this is also true for you, practice smiling a recognizable smile.

When you need to have people agree with you or promote a project of yours, the people with whom you’ve established a congenial “passing” relationship are more likely to go along with your project.

Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes leads to understanding and appreciating other people. And when you appreciate other people, they appreciate you.

Do you have any suggestions for speeding up the social graces learning curve?

No comments: