Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MCFARLAND: People skills: the art of getting along

By REBECCA MCFARLAND, Reaching Out | 5/14/2014

We are not born with knowing how to get along with others. We have to learn them. But, if you didn’t learn them in childhood, is it too late? Today I want to explore people skills or interpersonal skills, as the second part in a series of four columns on the topic.

If you look at people who are easy to get along with, you will notice that they have learned to art of getting along. They have learned that their first nonverbal messages are their faces. They appear nonthreatening and are usually smiling. They are people open to our approach and willing to communicate. The following are some “typical” skills common to individuals who have learned the art of getting along.

We are not born with knowing how to get along with others. We have to learn them. But, if you didn’t learn them in childhood, is it too late? Today I want to explore people skills or interpersonal skills, as the second part in a series of four columns on the topic.

If you look at people who are easy to get along with, you will notice that they have learned to art of getting along. They have learned that their first nonverbal messages are their faces. They appear nonthreatening and are usually smiling. They are people open to our approach and willing to communicate. The following are some “typical” skills common to individuals who have learned the art of getting along.

“Caring” — to be kind and compassionate through acts of kindness and service to others. Practice these skills to become a caring person:

• Be kind to others through your actions and communication. Remember, your actions speak louder than your words. Be sincere and look for opportunities to serve others.

• Express gratitude freely and often. Let others know how much you appreciate them.

• Use “thank you” and “please” as part of your daily conversations.

• Send thank-you notes and tell others how much you appreciate their act of kindness toward you.

• Forgive others and yourself daily.

• Help others in need and do not expect anything in return. By doing this, you will fulfill a greater need in yourself.

“Respect” — we all want to be respected, and we work hard to earn the respect of others. How we treat others with respect is learned. We are not born with this ability. To show respect, develop these skills:

• Follow the Golden Rule in your treatment of others.

• Learn to be tolerant of others and their differences.

• Use good manners, not bad language.

• Don’t threaten, hit, or hurt anyone with fists or words.

• Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements. Remember, it is OK to take a “time out.” If you find you cannot handle the disagreement or conflict peacefully, step away from the situation, but agree on a time to come back together to discuss it, peacefully. (In a later column, I will focus on resolving conflict.)

“Fairness” — everyone has a measuring stick as to how fairness is measured and what is fair. Remember these strategies of being fair, as you develop your skills to get along with others:

• Play by the rules. Don’t be deceptive, mean or vindictive to get what you want.

• Take turns and share resources.

• Be open-minded and learn to be a good listener.

• Don’t take advantage of others. Do not take unfair advantage of other people’s mistakes or ignorance.

• Don’t blame others carelessly.

Caring, respect and fairness are three of the six “typical” skills common to individuals who have learned the art of getting along. In my next column, to be published in the May 29 Herald, I plan to share the other three skills and some strategies and guidelines for getting along.

Rebecca McFarland is the family and consumer sciences extension agent for Frontier Extension District No. 11, which serves Franklin County. For more information, call her at (785) 229-3520 or email rmcfarla@ksu.edu

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