The CEO Dad Tuesday Tirade is on a brief vacation, so that we may complete the thoughts generated last Friday. I know you were breathless with anticipation, so read on.
Some of you may have followed last week’s link to learn about the new book “150 Best Jobs For Your Skills” by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin. On Friday, we learned how Farr and Shatkin uncovered the number one requirement for the highest-paid jobs these days as good thought-processing skills. Now, we’ll look at how they also identified social skills as the number one requirement for the fastest-growing opportunities out there.
(By the way, when visiting the book publisher’s site, I learned that they offer several “Webinars,” the newest thing in teleconferencing. There’s something not quite right about this new hybrid term, as if “web” and “seminar” had a one-night stand and decided not to pursue anything the next morning. One can see the intention behind the term, but perhaps this one would have been better left in separate beds.)
Anyway, this social skills stuff is a potentially frightening arena for all of us. There is nothing like an ongoing quest for work/life balance to highlight our lack of social skills. We may not be proud of going into a fetal position underneath our desk when a deal goes south, or the fact that our spouses now know the eleven different version of grunt with which we communicate over breakfast each morning, but that’s how we’ve learned to live. Yet, as with last week’s entry, it need not be. Another round of Googling has turned up several helpful suggestions for improving our social skills, such as:
1.IMPROVE SELF-CONFIDENCE THROUGH EYE CONTACT. Apparently, if you don’t look a person in the eye, you could be revealing disinterest, or even be lying. Luckily, you can avoid working on this social skill by always sending e-mails.
2.SHOW INTEREST IN THE OTHER PERSON. Rather than dominating the conversation with stories about yourself, encourage reciprocation by starting a little back and forth. This allows both you AND the other party to take turns fighting boredom while the other idiot is talking.
3.ASK EVOCATIVE QUESTIONS. Inquiries which prompt a simple yes or no answer stop things dead. Rather than asking “did you have a good flight?” try “what was the in-flight movie?” You’d be surprised how much of a connection can be made with another person simply by establishing a mutual disdain for Ben Affleck.
4.LISTEN. Really take in what the other person is saying, and respond directly to it. It does no good to stand there while a client talks about his strategy for expanding market awareness and then blurt out “who doesn’t love cheese?”
5.BE WELL-READ AND KNOWLEDGEABLE. Note: no longer a requirement in politics.
6.TAKE RISKS. I assume this means asking for what you want in a forthright and pleasant manner, and not appearing at a staff meeting wearing nothing but your Tasmanian Devil tie.
7.MOVE AT YOUR OWN PACE. It’s important to know that developing better social skills is a long process, and that you will make mistakes. Try out your new communication techniques on your children, because if you fail with them, the humiliation they will heap upon you will be far greater than anything some silly old client could dish out.
Now, we’re all ready to leap some new hurdles and compete in the job market with our top-notch social skills. Well, I better go, the man in the drive-up window is yelling at me.
Any other suggestions for being a smooth operator?