Eight Steps to Help You Work With Other People
Are you a "people" person? You know what we mean. Are you the type of person who gets along well with other people, who enjoys being with other people or, even more important in a professional context, who is able to work with other people to get things done? According to psychologist Mel Silberman, personal and professional success requires everyone to be a "people person." And for those who might not be as comfortable or skilled as others in dealing effectively with people, Silberman and co-author Freda Hansburg have written a useful manual on developing interpersonal skills called PeopleSmart.
Eight People Skills
According to Silberman, being "people smart" requires eight fundamental interpersonal skills:
- Understanding People
- Expressing Yourself Clearly
- Asserting Your Needs
- Exchanging Feedback
- Influencing Others
- Resolving Conflict
- Being a Team Player
- Shifting Gears
Silberman and Hansburg begin with a quick quiz to help readers identify in which of these skills they might be deficient. The authors then devote a chapter to each skill, dividing those chapters into four sections: Want It, Learn It, Try It and Live It.
The "Want It" section is a checklist of situations in which you might require the skill in question. In the chapter on "being a team player," for instance, those situations include "enhancing project teams or committee work" and "including those who have been excluded."
In the "Learn It" section, the authors offer specific how-to strategies for acquiring the interpersonal skill. To be a team player, for instance, you need to "join with others," "facilitate teamwork" and "build consensus." Silberman and Hansburg offer specific steps to achieve each of those goals.
The "Try It" section offers specific exercises, involving situations that apply to you, to help you put the strategies in effect. For example, the team player chapter asks you to observe how minority opinion is dealt with in your group - and to identify specific steps to ensure that the minority is heard.
Finally, the "Live It" section lists any barriers that you might see preventing you from acquiring or applying the interpersonal skill in question, then refutes those barriers one by one.
Insight and Structure
There is no doubt that much of the information here is common sense to most people - although the authors' insights into the psychology of people can be revealing. The strength of the book, however, is the rigid, structured approach that it takes to potentially "soft" issue of interpersonal relationships. Other similar books will also encourage "active listening." This book tells you when you need this skill, why you need the skill, and how to acquire and use it immediately.
PeopleSmart is an excellent comprehensive guide to building effective professional relationships.