Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things. 1) Get to know yourself. Use this self knowledge to better understand others. 2) Build long term, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life. 3) Resolve conflict positively. Use it to come up with creative solutions to problems and to enhance your relationships.
The other day I saw an interesting "Ask Amy" column (yes, I do read the advice columns they contain a lot of common sense). A grandmother wrote asking a question about electronic gadget etiquette. It seems that she had lunch with her college aged grandson. He was texting during their meal. She thought this was rude. Her grandson said that speaking on a cell phone would have been rude, but he was only texting. He said he was very good at multi tasking – in this case listening to her and carrying on a conversation while he ate and texted.
Amy responded, "Sending and receiving text messages while with a companion at lunch is the same as reading a magazine or writing a postcard at the table. There is nothing wrong with doing these things solo, but your companion shouldn’t have to watch."
Amy is right on. I debated on whether I should this example in a post on creating personal impact, communication skills or interpersonal competence. It certainly fits in all three categories. I chose to use in a post on interpersonal competence. You cannot build relationships by paying more attention to your electronic gadgets than you do the person or persons who are right in front of you.
You build strong relationships by attending to other people. Attending means that you are present. You give the other person your undivided attention. You listen to what they have to say. You respond appropriately. You avoid distractions. You shut off your cell phone – you take no calls and you don’t text. You don’t keep checking out the cute guy or gal sitting two tables over. You demonstrate your respect for the person in your presence by blanking out distractions and concentrating on what he or she is saying.
When you do this, you build relationships with people you’ve just met, and you enhance your relationships with people you already know. Strong relationships are an important key to becoming a personal and professional success.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people build strong relationships with the people in their lives. Strong relationships enhance your potential for becoming a personal and professional success. You can build strong relationships by being attentive to the people in your presence. Shut off your cell phone, don’t text, read the newspaper or magazines. Concentrate your attention on the person in front of you. Show him or her that you care about what he or she is saying. Treat him or her as if he or she is the most important person in the world – because he or she is at that moment. He or she is the person who has taken time from his or her busy day to have a conversation with you. Return the favor.
That’s my take on texting at the lunch table and success. What’s yours? What are some of the annoying things that people have done to you? Please take a minute and share your story in a comment. Thanks for reading.