In the educational world I work in, there is an ongoing conversation about lifelong skills, ones that transcend the curriculum taught and students should obtain. As a result, I’d like to offer a few I find to be essential.
Come in from a meaningful angle from below. If you come in too straight, you might miss someone’s hand. The area between your thumb and index finger should firmly meet the same area of the receiver. Once there, a tight squeeze is necessary. It doesn’t matter who you are shaking hands with, whether it be a woman or a child. You obviously don’t want to inflict pain, but a firm handshake tells you the person is intentional about meeting you. Weakness in a handshake says you are uncomfortable; make meeting people meaningful.
This goes beyond conversation. While it is important to make eye contact when speaking with someone, one should, in general, look the world in the face. This helps to avoid awkward moments when you walk by someone and it is only the two of you in the vicinity. At that point, asking someone how they are doing or how their day is would be necessary. There is nothing like walking past someone with their head down. What are they looking at anyway?
This further connects to eye contact when having a conversation. Looking someone in the face shows you care about what they have to say and is further a sign of respect.
What do you do in tough situations? The ability a person has to work through the tough times in life, whether they be profound or simple, how a person responds to difficulty will directly correlate to how the next few days, weeks, or months will transpire. Don’t let excuses hinder your ability to be resilient or say things like you are too busy. The fact is, everyone is busy. While some may have more demanding jobs, households, or whatever the case, it still remains that everyone, in their own little world, lives in a constant culture that demands results. How you respond to the demand of those results is crucial.
Be a Learner
You’re never too old to grow and should never be too wise to change your perspective. Plugging yourself into books or actually watching meaningful television are simple ways to consistently learn. This pairs perfectly with vocabulary. Ever listen to a person and find that they use “big” words? Those words don’t just come to them, they find them in the pages of books and through the conversations they have with others. Find a group of people you can counsel with, a subject that interests you, or take it a step further and seek to obtain knowledge on a topic in which you are utterly foolish. Understanding the world, how it operates, and its people will directly correlate to the influence you have on others.
Be a Listener
Some people are really good at listening and others maintain the ability to validate while listening. Take it a step further and actively listen for what a person is really saying. Is that person crying out for help? It is often impossible to know unless you listen to what their heart is telling you instead is listening and thinking about what you want to say next. Listening for what you want to say next is the root of arguments and the downfall of beneficial conversations.
These are all of course my opinion, and I have not mastered any of these. To avoid running the risk of writing too much, I’ll cut this list here and save more for later. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I have mentioned or what you might think I have missed.