Have you heard? PQ is the new IQ.
Interpersonal intelligence is one of the most overlooked, underutilized skill sets. In school, as we form our careers or level-up our professional life we often think about technical skills. We forget about soft skills. I believe people skills should not be optional.
When you have exceptional people skills, everything becomes easier.
You are able to:
- Negotiate for more money
- Make friends easily
- Engage in non-awkward conversations
- Say no to toxic people
- Bond quickly with clients
- Get along with colleagues
- Detect lies
- Fight less with your partner
- Understand the people in your life
As a human behavior investigator, I study the hidden forces that drive our behavior patterns in my lab — the Science of People. Over the past decade, I’ve developed shortcuts, formulas, and blueprints for getting along with anyone.
Today I want to dive into five essential people skills that every one of us should use on a daily basis. They are my secret weapons for interaction.
1. Infect excitement
It might sound crazy, but our emotions are contagious. We are spreading our moods all the time — even from what we post on Facebook.
One study analyzed over a billionanonymized status updates from 100 million users. They found that positive creates an upward spiral of more positive posts. Whereas even one negative post creates a downward spiral of more negative posts.
Here’s the good news:The positive posts were more influential and more contagious.
This happens both online and offline. In one study, published in the British Psychological Society, they found that when you share positive news with a friend it helps you BOTH. Your happiness increases and so does theirs.
- Try to infect excitement with the people around you. Share the big news, but also share the small news. Love your vanilla latte? Share that frothy goodness on Insta!
- Before meeting a friend think about all the good news you can share. Think of funny stories, juicy updates and something you can toast together. There is nothing better than a good champagne toast.
2. Avoid dreamkillers
Ok, so let’s say you take the advice from People Skill #1 and you share some super exciting news with a friend. Then their reaction is…a little lackluster, kinda neutral, or worse — a little jealous.
I believe sharing excitement is both an awesome people skill and a people test.
If you share a piece of exciting news and the person you are with gets really excited with you and for you – bingo, this is a great connection. If you share a piece of exciting news and the person you are with doesn’t respond well –alert, alert, alert! This might not be a great connection. I call these people dreamkillers.
Dreamkiller, n: A person who shuts down excitement, passion and joy in others because they are jealous, disengaged, or poopy.
Life is too short to surround ourselves with people who don’t truly support us. When you find a dreamkiller, weed them out immediately. These people are toxic!
3. Add, don’t subtract
Oh man, now I have something difficult to ask you. Are you a dreamkiller? Sometimes we dreamkill without realizing it.
In an interaction you are either adding to it – building excitement, laughing at jokes, asking questions — or you are subtracting from it – being cynical, disengaging or not asking reciprocal questions.
Subtracting are all small dreamkillers. And they can be hurtful and stunt relationship growth if done too often. Here are the ways we dreamkill without realizing it:
- Being a wet blanket. Your friend’s going to Mexico, but you point out the Zika outbreak. Your Mom got a new sweater, but you tell her it’s the wrong color. Your colleague lost weight, but you point out her new jowls. Stop putting a damper on people’s excitement! Don’t be a buzzkill.
- Not playing catch. You know when someone asks you, “How was your week?” And then you answer, but don’t ask back: "Ya, that sucks." Ask questions back! Be curious! Play catch when someone throws you the ball, don’t run away with it like the Beast in "The Sandlot."
- Being a downer.There was traffic. I couldn’t find parking. This wine is terrible. This food is expensive. Ya, we get it, life is tough. If you are in a bad mood, stay home and eat ice cream! Come out to juice people up, not to bring people down.
4. Decode hidden emotions
Sometimes we don’t share how we are truly feeling – very highly socially intelligent people know how to suss out what’s happening behind the words. Dr. Paul Ekman discovered seven universal facial expressions, called "microexpressions." Once you learn how to spot them you can learn a lot about what someone is really thinking.
The most important one for you to spot is contempt: It is simply a one-sided mouth raise. The problem is that we think of a smirk as partial happiness or boredom – but that could not be farther from the truth! Contempt is an expression of disdain, pessimism and scorn.
- Make sure you are not accidentally showing it in your profile picture!
- If you see it on someone’s face, be sure to get to the root cause. What is causing that negativity? Make sure it’s not you!
- Learn all 7 of the microexpressions in my latest book, "Captivate: Use Science to Succeed with People." Our entire chapter six is an overview of the microexpressions and how to spot them.
5. Stop people pleasing
Being ‘good with people’ does not mean saying yes to everything. Many of us confuse superior people skills with flattery and people pleasing. This is the farthest thing from the truth!
You have to be able to say no to the wrong people so you have energy to interact with the right ones.
Anti-people pleasing is an incredibly important people skill. It involves:
- Setting up boundaries
- Saying no
- Eliminating toxic people
Don’t feel like you always have to say yes. Don’t be pressured into appeasing people just because you feel like you should. I believe high interpersonal intelligence comes from taking control of your interactions.
Bring control back into your social life:
- Infect excitement with people you care about
- Avoid dreamkillers
- Don’t be a dreamkiller – add to all of your interactions
- Decode hidden emotions in the people you meet (and watch out for contempt!)
- Stop people pleasing — it won’t win you the right kind of friends
Read the original article on Science of People. Vanessa Van Edwards is a self-described “recovering awkward person” who researches human behavior to try to figure out what makes us tick. She is the author of “Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People.” Copyright 2017. Follow Science of People on Twitter.