By Jane C Woods

Very few of us get by in the world without contact with other people. Relationships with others are central to the human condition; we are all connected to one another in all sorts of ways. If we want to be successful in any area of life we need to be skilful in relationships.

Handling these important relationships well is important for success, both in our personal lives but just as importantly in our professional lives. Our emotional intelligence is as important as our intellectual capacity.

There are some fields where simply being brilliant at your craft may be enough, perhaps a very left brain science/computer related activity, but for the majority of us the ability to relate with others is a crucial element of our success and happiness.

Here are a few tips to think about for improving your sociability rating or give yourself a mini audit:

Adapt
We need to be adaptable to the changes in our surroundings and open to new experiences. The more open we are and the more we expose ourselves to new ideas and situations then the more attractive we are others, and the more comfortable we feel in new situations. And more people warm to us so the more we respond and
on it goes. A virtuous circle is established!

First and Last Impressions
See my article for a more in depth discussion on first impressions, but it is worth repeating that people remember the first time they meet you and the last time they have seen you so leave them with a positive impression. This is not just about clothes and how you look.

Smile
If you want people to feel comfortable around you, smile! Smiling makes you approachable (and I don t mean nervous grinning or inappropriate giggling which does not inspire confidence). If you are seen as approachable you are likely to be in the loop; people will happily talk to you, keep you informed and think about you in a positive way.

Ask a close friend to tell you how your face looks when in repose. Some of us have a
default expression akin to a frown when not actively engaged with someone – this can send out entirely the wrong message! Or try to get a glimpse of yourself in a mirror when out and about do you look like someone you d like to
talk to?

Body Language
Make sure your body language is open and welcoming. Try not to stand with your arms folded in front of you, or hands in pockets, or looking downwards like an uncomfortable teenager. Keep your hands open, not clenched into fists and have your feet firmly planted on the floor, comfortably apart so you are literally
well grounded . Let your stance reflect the interesting confident adult you are!

Eye Contact
Always try to make appropriate eye contact when you speak with someone. Stand up when people drop by your office or desk, greet them warmly, shake hands if that s appropriate, and turn away from your computer screen or work. Pay them the respect and compliment of your undivided attention, even if just for a moment.

Be Positive
Try to develop a positive attitude at work. If you are always moaning and negative about things people will avoid you, or only come to you when they fancy a grumble themselves.

It can also damage your career or business. You won t be told about new ideas or developments in your professional area, let alone asked to pilot or be involved in new projects. You won t get a chance to shine or showcase your skills, or even
acquire some new skills and you are likely to find yourself in a career or business rut.

Focus on Others
Try and focus on other people. Even if you consider yourself to be a shy person, focusing on someone else will take the attention from you and the other person will appreciate your interest.

You need to be genuine about this as an insincere enquiry will always show through. Try and develop a genuine interest in other people at your work, in your business, or in your other activities, such as parent teacher activities or social events. Practise your listening skills.

Act As If
Try to develop a confident work personality. Mentally square your shoulders as you go into work. Take a few deep breaths and act as if . As if you are confident, as if you can cope with whatever comes your way today, as if you are about to have an amazing, enjoyable day. You ll be surprised at what an effective technique this
can be.

Similarly, do the same when you leave work. Even if you have to take work home, try to leave some of the emotional baggage behind at the office. This takes practise but you owe it to yourself and friends and family to have a life.

Get a Life
This brings me to my last point. You are so much more than the job, business or profession you currently have. If you have interests outside of your work you will develop other skills and facets of your personality and become a much more interesting and attractive person.

So get a life outside of work. Take up a hobby; teach yourself a new language for your next holiday, join a singing group, find your artistic self and embrace the whole of your life!

We found Jane when we saw one of her articles on another site, and wanted to let you know about her – just terrific, pithy, helpful Tools and information…changingpeople.co.uk

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