How to Improve Your People Skills

Learning to solve problems and work with people can be the best way to exhibit class. Remember: Your people skills are your social skills.

Collaborative Problem Solving

• Define the problem in terms of needs.

• Brainstorm possible solutions.

• Select the solution that will best meet everyone's needs.

• Plan the action items and responsibilities.

• Implement the solution.

• Evaluate both the problem-solving process and the efficacy of the solution.

Tips for Resolving Problems

• Deal with emotions before you solve problems.

• Learn to be a good listener. Hear the other person's concerns.

• Work out the details. Until the solution is in place, the problem isn't solved.

• Follow up. Is the problem really resolved?

• If you're at an impasse, look for hidden agendas, including your own, that could be hindering the progress.

• If all else fails, start over again and redefine the problem.

Hints for Avoiding Confrontations

• Be open and receptive, and you will reduce hostility and defensiveness. Defensive people do not listen well.

• Give criticism tactfully.

• Never criticize anyone in public or in the grip of emotion.

• Begin with a sincere compliment and end with a confident assumption or improvement.

• Be assertive, not aggressive.

• Never argue. It makes people resist change.

• Practice active listening by restating the other person's opinion. This will help you to understand his or her frame of reference.

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and