How Having a Life Can Improve Your People Skills

People skills have an interesting dynamic, because in order to improve them, you sometimes need to dig in other areas, improve there, and then you will see your people skills go up as well. And if you only work on them directly, you will often just create a superficial result.

One such area is having a life. Every person I know who has not just good, but awesome people skills, also has a very reach and meaningful life. These people travel a lot, read a lot, meet all kinds of people, and try all sorts of hobbies. Not only does this give them a certain confidence and charisma, but it also eases their social interactions with others.

If you think about it, your life and your person are what you put on the table when you’re talking with someone. They create content and context for your social interactions. If your life is very repetitive and uninteresting, if you as a person are shallow and conventional, it’s like putting a bag of peanuts on the table and asking the other person if she wants to dine with you. Not very appealing for her.

One particular effect I value which having a life has on your social interactions is this: having a life allows you to relate to almost anything the other person says or does. This can be one of those key people skills, as it’s helps you greatly to break the ice, build rapport and make quality conversation with others.

Here’s on example of not relating effectively to what someone says:

You: “So, what did you do this weekend?”

Her: “I went to a tango festival. I’m taking tango lessons you know.”

You: “Aha, really?

Here’s the same example with a twist:

You: “So, what did you do this weekend?”

Her: “I went to a tango festival. I’m taking tango lessons you know.”

You: “I have a friend who dragged me to a couple of tango lessons once. It was actually a lot more fun than I expected. I liked the fact I started learning how to be a good lead. I think that’s important.

See the difference? In the second case, you are actually relating to what the person is saying, connecting your experience with hers. But in order to do that, you need to have taken tango lessons, known someone who has, or at least talked about it with someone who was into tango.

There is a huge link between having a life and having the skills to relate. Yet, people who live rich, meaningful lives are rare. Even if we live in a world where we have a ton of options, my experience is that most people have pretty dull and repetitive lives.

This being said, here are some starters towards enriching your life:

  • Consider activities you have never done before and try them out;
  • Make sure you vary your activities and don’t stop at just one or two;
  • Include some sports, and some social or group activities in your agenda;
  • Save money to afford some of the more expensive activities you can try.

When you have tried just about anything or you know just about anything, I believe you are in a place where you can make great friends, build great business relationships and influence people with ease. Having a life is one of the most important ways you can use to improve your people skills.

Comments

  1. Hi Eduard,

    Great post! This is a nice way to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and try new things…you never know when certain knowledge will come in handy! Even when you don’t have direct knowledge of something, if you listen to the other person and show genuine interest, you’ll be sure to find even a little something in what they’re saying that you can relate back to your own experiences. The point is to be open-minded and keep the dialogue going in order to build richer and more satisfying relationships.
    Thanks for sharing and have a GREAT weekend!
    .-= Tisha Berg´s last blog ..Web Hosting Checklist for Moms: This Decision Can Make or Break your Business! =-.

    • Tisha, you understand my point very well. I am trying to get people to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. I think it’s a great way to improve people skills and grow as a person.

  2. Interesting post. I think the other thing you can do to improve your people skills is to show interest in the people around you. I haven’t been scuba diving, so if I was in a conversation with someone who is an avid scuba diver I couldn’t rely on past experience to add to the conversation (and I wouldn’t even try to fake it, no way, always get caught out!). But, what I can do is to show interest, ask questions, be engaged – not only does that make the person I’m talking to feel valued and interesting, but I get to learn something new. And, even if I never get to scuba dive, next time I’m talking to someone who does, I can say “I was talking to an advid scuba diver a while back…”

    • Yeah, I think that’s the next best thing you can do. If you can’t relate, get curios and ask questions on the topic. With the info you get, you will be able to relate with the next person who brings up the same topic. Relating is a more powerful skill in my book though. And it’s harder to do, which gives you an advantage over other people.

  3. Hey Eduard. I totally agree with you here! In order to have flowing conversations with people, it’s good to have some experiences that somewhat relate to what they are saying. It doesn’t have to be exact like the Tango example you showed, but it should at least connect in some way so that the other person can understand. Great lesson. Thanks man!
    .-= Hulbert Lee´s last blog ..Hillary Clinton and Tenacity =-.

    • That’s my point Hulbert. And yes, you don’t have to relate exactly to what all people say, you would have to try every activity on this planet to have these skills, but at least relate at e certain level.

  4. This is exacting what I’m doing…trying out new things. I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I’ve spent a lot of time hiking in the last 6 months and I’ve met new people through hiking groups.
    Also the calm and peace of nature balances computer work;)
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Emotional Cleansing for Freedom and Joy =-.

  5. Hi Eduard.

    This is true. Real occurrences are a huge deal. My regular 4on4/5on5 basketball games are great for me. Other activities I do give me lots of energy to discuss and act. If I stopped these things, I would start to turn into an amoeba.

    As long as we keep rolling in our various interests, we can expect many side benefits.

    I agree with Tess’s point about how the calm and peace of nature balances computer time. They are like a yin and anti-yin(AKA yang).
    .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..The Social Interaction Dance =-.

    • I remember doing that back in high-school. It was pretty energizing. And a cool way to bond with the guys (except those who tend to get over-competitive :))

  6. Hi Eduard,
    Great post.

    I have found that my partner, Hana, is a lot better at getting out and meeting new people than I am naturally. I am pretty good at trying new things and pushing my comfort zone. However, I learn a lot from her and still get out there….all about practicing and getting better at it. That’s why, as you rightly point out, that those with rich and full lives have great social skills as they have had more practice than most. Key thing to remember, I think, is that weren’t born like that they became like that.

    Adrian
    .-= Adrian Swinscoe´s last blog ..Struggling to grow? Do you need to re-invent your business? =-.

    • Interesting point Adrian. Having a life is to me the basic way to grow as a person. This is why people who do have a life, tend from what I notice to be more confident, more mature and to have better people skills. I’m fascinated by this.

  7. NIce post. I like getting outside of my comfort zone when dealing with new people, because it allows me to constantly learn new things that I didn’t know before. I have found having more life experience allows these connections to feel more flowing and natural.

  8. > There is a huge link between having a life and having the skills to relate
    I like that point and I find it tends to be true!
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning Sources of Insight =-.

  9. Indeed a rich and conscious life would give one the breadth and depth in experience that increases one’s empathy and ability to relate with others. Thanks for the reminder. If you’d excuse me, I’ve to stop writing and get a life. 😉
    .-= The Conscious Life´s last blog ..8 Guided Meditation to Cut Stress & Anxiety =-.

  10. Great advice certainly.

    But the tango example I had some trouble with. Perhaps it’s the cultural difference (I’m from Australia) that caused the problem.

    As the tango dancer, I would prefer a response in between those offered. The first was obviously disengaged. The second response however would disturb me no end in it’s insincerity. I would be worried that I had; a potential stalker, a religious nut wanting to convert me, or someone wanting to involve me in pyramid selling.

    Appart from the examples, I thought the rest of the article and advice was spot on

    • Really? Hmmm… That second response is pretty close to how I usually relate :). I know it can sometimes come off as bit too much, but it the end, it really helps me in building that bridge.

  11. Excellent post, Edward. I like what you said about having the skills to related by having a life that is meaningful and satisfactory. I think think that it stems from the fact that people become more open-minded as they encounter people from all walks of life. This makes them adjust easily because they’ve already met other people who have lifestyle or opinions that are vastly different from theirs.

  12. NIce post. I like getting outside of my comfort zone when dealing with new people, because it allows me to constantly learn new things that I didn’t know before. I have found having more life experience allows these connections to feel more flowing and natural.

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