Effective People Skills

Having effective people skills includes the ability to communicate effectively, using listening skills and reading body language, and the capacity to assert yourself in social situations. Cultivating a positive attitude can not only help others to feel more comfortable in your presence but also makes them more likely to want to be in your company. In his book “People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts,” author Robert Bolton asserts that anyone can develop people skills, which can potentially enhance your personal and professional life.

Effective Verbal Communication Skills

Developing effective ways of interacting with others involves cultivating verbal communication skills . Verbal communication skills include speaking in a clear and coherent manner, saying what you mean, and avoiding the use of manipulation or saying things you don’t really mean just to please others. Harville Hendrix, an internationally renowned relationship psychologist most popularly known for his book, “Getting the Love You Want,” encourages people to take responsibility for specifically communicating their needs and desires in order to avoid miscommunication or misunderstandings. Try to be specific when you are communicating needs, ideas or explanations. Techniques such as mirroring and reflective listening are examples of effective verbal communication skills. These techniques include the use of reflecting back–or mirroring–to another person what she has just said using clarifying statements such as, “If I am hearing you correctly, what you are saying is . . . .”

Awareness of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication involves attuning yourself to body language, such as eye contact and body posture. If you are in a discussion with someone who suddenly crosses his arms or legs, he is responding in a defensive or self-protective manner. Perhaps this can alert you to something you’ve said that the other person finds offensive or can provide you with an opportunity to clarify a misperception. Similarly, subconscious actions such as leaning away from someone, breaking eye contact, or looking around the room can be indications of disinterest.

Being Assertive

Assertiveness means standing up for yourself without being aggressive, whether you are making a request in front of a group or standing up for your rights in the workplace. Being assertive is a difficult skill for many people, especially those who are used to putting the needs of others before their own or doing things just to please others. People who come from abusive backgrounds or struggle with low-self-esteem may have difficulty with this skill. Assertive people are not pushovers, nor are they inflexible or demanding. Being friendly without being defensive when making requests is one way of being assertive. Working on your self-confidence in other areas can help to increase your ability to be assertive.

Having a Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude encourages others to want to be around you. Trying to be upbeat is not always possible, but people are more likely to seek out the company of someone who is happy and cheerful than someone who has a negative or gloomy attitude. Positive people generally experience more fulfilling and rewarding relationships with others. A Mayo Clinic article, “Positive thinking: Reduce stress,enjoy life more,” points out that people with a positive attitude experience numerous other benefits, such as increased physical and mental health and better coping skills during times of stress or difficulty.

About this Author

Stacy Mosel is a licensed social worker specializing in child and adolescent therapy. She holds a master’s degree in social work and a B.A. in music, and writes for several online publications, including eHow, Suite101, and Associated Content. She is a certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast, and makes her own bath and body products.