How do you gain people skills?
Simple. By genuinely loving people.
Empathy, care, sensitivity in speaking, acting will naturally follow?
Except that it usually doesn’t.
We spend a lot of effort ‘practising’ people skills, but it still does not get us anywhere.
Because what “How do I gain people skills?” often actually means is:
“How do I get people to like me?” “How do I get people to do what I want?” “How do I get people to do what I want, but feel like they are doing it for themselves?”
It is all about ‘me’. The better word would be ‘me skills’ rather than ‘people skills’.
It would be like someone in India saying “I really want to get to Eiffel Tower and I mean it” then getting a map of India, scratching out “Map of India” and labelling it as “Map of France” and trying to follow it. No matter how much he ‘sincerely’ walks, he will never end up in the right place.
So you need to get the ‘me’ out first. You need to understand what that even means!
- It means you stop worrying about what they think of you, and care more about what they think. That automatically leads to empathy.
- To know what they think, you have to stop worrying about what you are thinking, and listen to what they are saying. That automatically leads to deeper listening.
- It means you stop worrying about what you want from them, and care more about what they want. That automatically leads to helpfulness.
- It means when you cannot give them what they want, you worry less about how it makes you look, and care more about not providing them with false hopes. That automatically demands better boundaries, and leads to integrity in your words and actions.
- It means when they are hurt, you care less about whether the hurt was caused by you or someone else…and focus more on their healing anyway. That automatically gives rise to compassion.
- It means that even if you think you are an “introvert”, “not a people person”, “individual worker” or any other label you have awarded yourself, you will be ready to face your discomfort and play the needed role to your best, if it makes a difference for the people you care about, or a cause they care about. Facing this discomfort automatically gives rise to courage.
If you are a person who is genuinely empathetic, a deep listener, truly present, sincerely care, compassionate, courageous – rather than “practising day and night” to appear like someone who is empathetic, exhibiting body language of a good listener, mimicking behaviours of ‘being present’, imitating actions of ‘caring people’, ‘charismatic people’ based on scientific studies – chances are you are going to end up being a very good people person…and sustain it forever.
People will be touched by your authentic presence. Even if you were never ‘trying for it’. Even if you are far from perfect.
So yes; to be a good people person, start by actually loving people, without any ulterior motives. BE a people person, rather than working hard to PRETEND you are a people person.
This question originally appeared on Quora. The place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions: