HOW TO GET ALONG WITH PEOPLE
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© May 2011, The Center For Development
Getting along with people is an important skill, and one that some people have difficulty with. Here are some simple suggestions to assist those who need to get along better.
1. Learn to be polite and considerate. This may seem obvious, but some people never learned simple consideration and politeness from parents or elsewhere. You would be surprised how far simple consideration will go, at times. Learn to say Please, Thank you, May I help?, and so forth.
Always try to put yourself in the other personŐs shoes. Practice the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have others do unto you. This is a key to consideration and politeness in most cases.
2. Do not raise your voice when speaking with others. Raising your voice is extremely threatening and intimidating. Some people do not realize this. If you believe you are not being heard, or not listened to, or not appreciated, there are other ways to make this known to another person. Raising your voice is one of the fastest ways to stop communication and even to end a relationship.
3. Apologize quickly if you make a mistake or error. This is important to prevent others from holding on to anger. Another way to say this is do not be defensive if you are wrong or make a mistake. Admit it quickly and say youŐre sorry, and mean it when you say it.
4. Be punctual, meaning arrive when you say you will arrive, and do what you say you will do.
5. Smile and be cheerful most of the time. People donŐt like others who are too serious and intense all the time. You can still be honest, direct and committed without being overly heavy or serious.
6. Relax around other people whenever possible. This helps put others at ease and helps them relax around you, which they will like.
7. Whenever possible, do not take other peopleŐs stray comments personally. Instead, be patient with everyone and do your best to overlook the faults of others, without arguing. No one is perfect. If you wish to get along, learn to overlook other peopleŐs small imperfections.
This does not mean to allow others to verbally or otherwise abuse you or trample on you. If someone speaks or acts offensively repeatedly, this is not a person to spend much time with. However, if you find yourself with a person who makes unpleasant comments about you or others, do your best not to take things personally, realizing it is usually the other personŐs issue, not yours.
8. As a general rule, listen carefully and deeply, and do less speaking. Most people want to be listened to, especially children. However, learning to listen attentively, also sometimes called active listening, is a wonderful skill. It simply means to be quiet, yet you are taking in what another is saying along with his or her body language, intonation and other information so that you are really paying attention and hearing what the other is saying at a deep level and can respond accordingly.
Learning to listen, in fact, is a very wise idea in almost all areas of human interaction. It is often the best way to tell if a person is telling the truth, for example, since most people who lie let slip some of the truth if you listen carefully. It is also a very good way to tell if a person is really interested in you, or mainly interested in himself or herself. It is also an excellent way to find out if a person is leading you on or really genuine in their praise, critiques, and other things. So learning to listen is an amazing skill and one well worth cultivating.
The hardest thing about learning to listen for most people is to avoid the temptation to just blurt out what is on your mind. This takes some restraint that often must be learned through experience. However, this is a wonderful exercise.
9. Real humility is wonderful. Fake humility is not. Real humility is mainly to be authentic and real with others. Fake humility is to put yourself down when you donŐt really mean it, and other affected behaviors.
Real humility is also realizing that you are a wonderful person, so you donŐt have to advertise it, claim it, or be defensive about it if someone challenges you in some way. Real humility is realizing that others need not know who you are because you know who you really are. This is quite an accomplishment for some people, but one well worth working on.
10. Nonviolent Communication, a term coined by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, is an interesting approach that contains a lot of wisdom. It consists of a process that can often help with many communication difficulties.
The process is follow these steps:
1. Objectively observe the situation
2. Identify a feeling in yourself.
3. Identify what your need or desire is in the situation.
4. Formulate a request for the other person.
5. Give the other person lots of feedback on what you believe they are saying.
This is not always easy to do, and I am greatly simplifying the process, but this the basic way it is done. Dr. RosenbergŐs book contains many simple ideas that can facilitate excellent communication. For more on this, read Nonviolent Communication on this website.
11. Love and respect are the answer. A very difficult lesson for some people is to realize that everyone wants to be loved, respected, admired, appreciated, and recognized. This is what most people crave and desire.
Therefore, if you wish to get along with people, let them know when you appreciate something they have done, and admire them and respect them when you genuinely feel this. Do not feign affection, love or admiration, as most people will eventually see through this. However, it is very helpful for all relationships to appreciate, admire, recognize and respect others.