When you are solely focused on building a career, everything else can seem inconsequential. Building new relationships, while maintaining existing ones, is an important part of your business success. How do your social skills measure up? Here are eight ways to amp up your personality:
- Listen. This tip alone will make you seem like a conversational genius. Too often, we are thinking about what we're going to say when the other person finally takes a breath. Make a conscious effort to hear, and digest, what they are telling you. Indicate you are tuned in by asking questions or repeating back what you just heard.
- Explore new interests. Life is not a race to see who can work the fastest. If you've always wanted to paint, now is the time to get started. If travel is on your list, start a vacation fund and make your plans. Or, get back in touch with a person or hobby you dropped on the way to the top. From a simple task to a grand scheme, energize yourself beyond the office door.
- Stay informed on current events. You don't have to be an expert on travel or foreign affairs, but you should make a point to familiarize yourself on the latest headlines, movies, music and best sellers. Knowledge of current events makes it easier to initiate conversations with others.
- Look for the positive. There's nothing as energy-sapping as spending time with a complainer, whiner or a micromanager. Conversely, there's something very appealing about someone with an upbeat attitude. If you catch yourself becoming negative, switch gears and redirect your thoughts and words.
- Spend time with real people. If your social life takes place primarily on an electronic device, it's time to turn off the phone and schedule lunch, after-work drinks, or an evening out with someone face to face. Count your friends around the dinner table, rather than "likes" on your Facebook page.
- Don't take things personally. If someone doesn't hire you, buy your product, or turns down your latest idea, look for the lesson, reason or blessing and move on. Draw inspiration from countless other people throughout history who, after being told "No" multiple times, went on to become a huge success.
- Write it down. Buy a journal, or a collection of pretty notebooks to handwrite your thoughts and keep track of priorities. Send a letter to someone you've lost touch with, write a thank you note, or simply leave a card on a friend's desk or doorstep. Putting pen to paper makes the effort special.
- Take a risk. It can be as simple as striking up a conversation in line at the coffee shop, asking for an overdue raise, or volunteering for a new project. Regularly taking positive steps outside of your comfort zone will eventually pay off and serve as a useful exercise in honing your communication skills.