Becoming More of a People Person

Steve LudwigCoachingLeave a Comment

3 people sat in a business meeting with big smiles on their faces and clearly enjoying each other's company.

To succeed in personal and professional settings, we need to be more than simply transactional. While we are not suggesting an in-depth discussion about the ongoing geopolitical implications of Guy Fawkes’s actions in 1605 with your barista, we do think there are steps you can take to become more of a people person.

Developing a “people-centered” approach means placing individuals – colleagues, friends, or acquaintances – at the heart of our decisions and actions. This requires some genuine understanding and empathy.

And, if we are honest, sometimes we don’t want to understand—we just want something. That’s fine, in small doses. But that can be very limiting if you act that way on a regular basis.

Here are actionable steps to help you become more people-centered:

Challenge “They Are Always That Way”

When you have a consistent complaint about someone, such as, “They never listen to me” or “They are always that way,” it’s time to look at your assumptions and interactions. No one is always a certain way. We are complex creatures.

Ask yourself, is there a way to communicate or interact with this individual that I have not tried previously? More times than not, we interact the same way and get the same results. Challenge your assumptions about the individual and go from there.

Seek to Understand their Culture

A boss of mine was a born and bred New Yorker, complete with the accent. A no-nonsense taskmaster who didn’t like chit-chat. We had a client in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the United States. When they started our meeting, we talked about college football and other stuff for a good 15 minutes. It was their way of connecting and keeping relationships warm. It drove him nuts, and it was not endearing to see him stew.

Take a few minutes to understand the culture of the people you are interacting with. This could be the culture of an industry, profession, company, etc., and meet them where they are.

Practice Active Listening

To truly connect with others, one must listen deeply. This means fully concentrating, understanding, and responding to the spoken words of another. When in conversation, avoid interrupting and genuinely seek to understand the other person’s perspective. Sometimes it takes practice, but it’s worth it.

Cultivate Your Emotional Intelligence

We’re not suggesting reading a lot of Freud, although I’m sure that would prove to be interesting.

Emotional Intelligence is being attuned to your emotions and those of others, which provides smoother interactions. By understanding and managing emotions effectively, you can build stronger relationships and navigate interpersonal dynamics with grace.

An easy way to hone your EI is to reflect on what makes you upset quickly. What are those triggers? Where did they come from? What can you do when it comes up? What you discover might be something outside of work, like bad drivers. The practice of noticing and developing that skill is what is important.

Be Genuinely Curious About Others

Take the time to understand the needs, preferences, and backgrounds of those around you. This will not only help you relate to them better but also foster a sense of inclusivity.

Good salespeople know their customers very well. Sometimes, you need to take that approach with your colleagues as well. A celebrated American business and sales guru, Harvey Mackay, developed a list of 66 items he wanted to know about his customers. While you might not need to know all those things on his list, it’s helpful to understanding others. And it allows you to connect over interests you have in common.

Prioritize Self-care and Balance

Being people-centered isn’t just about focusing on others. You need to take care of yourself to be fully present for those around you. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation, ensuring you’re at your best when engaging with others.

Engage in Acts of Kindness

Small gestures often have a significant impact. Whether it’s a simple compliment, lending a helping hand, or offering your time to listen, these acts can make a big difference in someone’s day.

Acknowledge Mistakes and Learn from Them

No one is perfect. When you make mistakes in your interactions, own up to them, apologize sincerely, and determine how you can avoid similar errors in the future.

Being people-centered is about valuing human connection and understanding that every interaction holds potential for deep, meaningful engagement. By integrating the above steps into your daily life, you will find yourself more in tune with those around you, forging stronger bonds and enriching your interpersonal experiences.

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