How to Improve Your People Skills at University
People skills at university are important. There are very few, if any faculties at most schools where you do all of your work on your own. In most programs (though some more than others) you will have to work in groups to complete projects and give presentations on course material.
The same rules apply to interacting with and having interpersonal success with other people as they do with anyone else. When you find yourself in a group project setting, you are going to be faced with dealing with and navigating other people’s personalities, arguing for your point of view and opinions to be heard, while allowing others to voice their own, and trying to get your fellow group members to do what you want. That is not to say you are going to be manipulating people, but your political skills will definitely be a factor in how well you do in a group. Below are some tips for improving your people skills while at school.
Make other people feel important
There is an awful, even subconscious tendency among some people to try and elevate themselves by putting down others. This is the hallmark of a weak person with an inferiority complex. If you really want to gain the trust and respect of the people you are working with (making them more amenable to your suggestions and requests as the project progresses), you should always strive to make others feel important.
The best part about making people feel important is that it doesn’t cost you anything. This tactic is especially useful if there is someone in the group who you can tell feels shy and/or underappreciated. A little bit of encouragement, or an unexpected compliment can go a very long way. If you hear out other people’s opinions and suggestions, and make them feel as though they are worthwhile and valuable, they will likely respond in kind.
Don’t command, ask questions with implied statements
There is often that one person who feels entitled to take charge during a group project. They might like the idea of telling others what to do. They might have told themselves, or been told by others that they are a ‘natural born leader’ and just assume other people expect them to lead and take charge. Maybe they like the idea of telling future employers about the time when they took charge and led. They start barking commands and giving orders as if it was their divine right to do so. Never forget that group projects are not meant to mirror organizational hierarchies. There is no superior-subordinate roles. They are democracies.
In fact, asking questions is number three on the list of ways to “change people without giving offence or arousing resentment” in Dale Carnegie’s famous How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you are someone who naturally likes to take charge, and if you know you have a strong type A personality, keep in mind how others might perceive you when trying to successfully complete a group project. Additionally, part of putting together a successful group project means being able to do your share of the work. Sometimes that is just not possible, given all of the other responsibilities and obligations of university life. When that’s the case, there are services out there to help you with your group projects so you don’t become overwhelmed by everything else you have to do.
Let other people save face
Saving face is a term that is not very often used when talking about Western culture. It is more closely associated with Eastern cultures, particularly ones that place a high value on honour, and which abhor and avoid shame. But saving face is, in reality, a universal concept. To save face means to avoid looking socially ridiculous, or to be viewed as having lost dignity or status. The concept exists to lesser and greater extents depending on which culture you’re examining, but it is a human being thing, first and foremost.
Your people skills at university will get you a long way, especially when completing group projects. One of the most valuable things you can do to curry favour with other people is to allow them to save face when they have done, or said something embarrassing, or when one of their ideas has not panned out the way they claimed, or thought it would. If you are someone who feels the need to let other people know when they’ve made mistakes, being able to do so in a way that does not make them look bad, or foolish will help you immensely with your group members.
You don’t need to be constantly talking to make an impact
There is an old, but cliche saying about having two ears and one mouth because you are supposed to listen twice as much as you talk. Well it’s true. If you are sitting in a group meeting, your first instinct should not be to try and be the loudest, most frequent talker in the room. People are more apt to listen to what you have to say if you aren’t talking all the time, but rather carefully considering what it is you want to say, listening to others speak their piece, and waiting for the right moment to interject.
When you do finally make your point, make it short, sweet, and well thought-out. A few well-spoken, succinct phrases will sound much more powerful to your audience than a bunch of rambling (which poorly thought out statements and points usually do, they ramble). This is the key to speaking with authority. If you speak with authority, and people perceive you as having authority, your group members will automatically look to you for opinions, and take what you have to say more seriously.
Working with other people is something that you are going to need to learn to do. Even more importantly, working with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds will continue to become the norm in our continuously globalizing world, with disparately located, international teams. Keep the above considerations in mind when participating in group projects to improve your people skills at university, and get in touch with Homework Help Global for any and all of your custom essay writing and coursework needs.
Giasson, F. (2005). “How to Win Friends and Influence People: A List in 28 Points.” fgiasson. Retrieved from: http://fgiasson.com/blog/index.php/2005/08/07/how_to_win_friends_and_influence_people/
Goudreau, J. (2011). “How to speak with authority.” Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/10/26/how-to-speak-with-authority-hillary-clinton-michelle-obama/#6df26f3f60faShare: