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View Full Version : Is social skill important in YOUR real-life job?



The Backward OX
01-20-2010, 02:35 PM
Does your real-life job involve contact with people? Does success in your job involve a high level of social skill?

If so, how do you continue to come up smiling, day after day?

I’m thinking of starting a new, agency-type business that involves placing part-time, temporary Personal Assistants with clients of mine. These P.A.s will first and foremost need to be “people persons,” that is, people who can get on with anybody, regardless.

So, I’m wondering if there’s anyone reading this who's a cab-driver, a hooker, a door-to-door salesman, or anyone else in the people business - a P.A., even! - who might tell me their secret of how they keep backing up time after time and still keep a smile on their face.

Thank you. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com<img src=" /><o:p></o:p>

Ken
01-20-2010, 05:02 PM
... as an office temp the "absence" of social skills is important. You have to be able to go to a company for several weeks or months and be content to be alone and uncommunicative. Otherwise you won't be able to get any writing and reading done while on the job as people will be constantly stopping by to smooze with you.

Being friendly also results in your getting more work assigned to you I find, whereas if you are asocial and scowl a lot employees leave you alone and tend to avoid you. And oddly, this has no impact on how long a company keeps you on as an employee. Quite the opposite.

Bosses seem to like employees who stay out of their hair, even if they do little to no work, which is okay by me.

kaitie
01-20-2010, 05:25 PM
I'm a teacher, so yeah definitely. I make an effort to talk to and joke around with the students on a daily basis. I'm much more shy around the teachers, though.

There's only really one teacher I actively work with who drives me insane, and I just try to smile and put up with it. I love my students, even if they never study, and I don't let them get to me.

I think for me it was just a matter of deciding years ago that I wanted to be someone who was pleasant and smiled at work instead of being the really annoying downer who never had anything positive to say. Even when I'm tired and exhausted or sick and feeling like crap, I still go into class with a smile.

NeuroFizz
01-20-2010, 05:35 PM
There are no secrets. It's just like any other skill--it takes work, practice, learning from mistakes, and persistence. Everyone who teaches has had zipper-down moments (metaphorically speaking), and moments of crisis. Solutions and reactions buy experience, and experience produces confidence. It's as simple AND as complicated as that.

lucidzfl
01-20-2010, 05:53 PM
My god yes. In addition to extinguishing fires between developers and other developers, developers and qa, product management and engineering management, and all points in between.... I also do tradeshows, so I hop on a plane, travel for hours and hours, put on uncomfortable shoes and stand on 1/4" cheap carpeting on top of solid concrete (tradeshow floors) for 12 hours a day without lunch talking to customers and engineers....

So yeah if I wasn't a "FUCKING PEOPLE PERSON (tm)" I wouldn't last a week.

sadron
01-20-2010, 05:56 PM
I study for flower shop things so so yeah, it is important. :)

scarletpeaches
01-20-2010, 05:57 PM
I hate people.

NeuroFizz
01-20-2010, 06:04 PM
I hate people.
Fixed it for you, either to put it in phonetic scottish or to hang on a metaphorical meat hook. Let the reader be the judge.

scarletpeaches
01-20-2010, 06:10 PM
The fact I never drop my H's should be a big clue.

Alpha Echo
01-20-2010, 06:14 PM
I hate people.

Me too. Well, most. That just means I have to work hard to remember my people skills.

I deal with all kinds of people in my office job. I'm just admin, so I have to cater to needy bosses, make nice with HR to get things done (b/c they don't do their jobs), make nice with a lot of people I don't like at all or don't have respect for in an effort to keep everyone happy. That's my real job - keep everyone else happy.

CaroGirl
01-20-2010, 06:24 PM
I like people, despite being afraid of those I don't know. I have a bit of social phobia. However, cultivating trusting and respectful relationships in my job is very important. I have to interview developers and QA to get their professional insight and input on the documentation I write. I have to, in turn, ask them to review and give feedback on my work. It's very important to have an open relationship so we all get what we want, which is to have software features documented thoroughly and accurately.

So, I have to put my shyness and social phobia aside to get the information I need. I've been pretty successful at this so far. I might never have a lunch date, or even a solid friend, at work, but at least I have the respect of the SMEs (subject matter experts) whom I rely on.

scarletpeaches
01-20-2010, 06:32 PM
I used to work in a dept store and the script you're given is just bollocks. What to say in the morning, what to say in the afternoon, what to say in the evening, how to greet a customer, never apologise for a queue being long, say thank you for waiting...even "Would you like a bag today?" When the hell else would they want a bag? Yesterday? Next week?

I deviated from the script and got told off time and again but as I pointed out to the managers, the customers liked the fact I showed a little - pardon the phrase - spunk.

I can natter to people when I'm left to my own devices. It's all small talk. As long as I'm not expected to socialise with folk, I'm fine, it's all surface chat.

I never went down the pub with my workmates though. If I want friends to hang out with I'll come to AW; I have something in common with you guys. Plus, Mac's willing to put up with me, God love the mad, crazy fool.

Mr Flibble
01-20-2010, 06:35 PM
I make sure any thoughts of awkward-customer-strangling are kept for later. We run a book on who gets the worst one all week.

NeuroFizz
01-20-2010, 06:38 PM
The fact I never drop my H's should be a big clue.
kiss me
and keep your nibble
to the side of my tongue
that holds my soul,
the border of bitter
and sweet,
and don't complain
of any lack
of tenderness.

I taste of my taste
and nothing more.

Alpha Echo
01-20-2010, 06:39 PM
I don't know why people annoy me so much. I just answered a call from a very friendly guy, but for some reason, he was too friendly and just really annoying. I don't know what my problem is. There are a lot of people I admire and respect and whose company I enjoy. But...I'd rather be curled up with my SO. I'm glad we're both pretty much introverts.

scarletpeaches
01-20-2010, 06:44 PM
I don't know why people annoy me so much. I just answered a call from a very friendly guy, but for some reason, he was too friendly and just really annoying. I don't know what my problem is. There are a lot of people I admire and respect and whose company I enjoy. But...I'd rather be curled up with my SO. I'm glad we're both pretty much introverts.Because it's not genuine. People who bullshit to a script are liars. They're insincere. They don't mean a single word they say. They're paid to say it.

CaroGirl
01-20-2010, 06:49 PM
I used to work in a dept store and the script you're given is just bollocks. What to say in the morning, what to say in the afternoon, what to say in the evening, how to greet a customer, never apologise for a queue being long, say thank you for waiting...even "Would you like a bag today?" When the hell else would they want a bag? Yesterday? Next week?

I deviated from the script and got told off time and again but as I pointed out to the managers, the customers liked the fact I showed a little - pardon the phrase - spunk.

I can natter to people when I'm left to my own devices. It's all small talk. As long as I'm not expected to socialise with folk, I'm fine, it's all surface chat.

I never went down the pub with my workmates though. If I want friends to hang out with I'll come to AW; I have something in common with you guys. Plus, Mac's willing to put up with me, God love the mad, crazy fool.
When I worked retail, which I did for 4 years, I never had to greet customers using a script. I would've HATED that. How stupid. My job was to sell them as many bras and panties as possible, and as long as I did that, and didn't fuck up the cash in the till, all was right with the world.

James81
01-20-2010, 06:52 PM
I did a double take when I saw this thread here. :roll:

Didn't realize other Pavlina-ites came here. :D

Anyway, to the subject of your thread...Engineers are an introverted lot. Most of them keep to themselves and/or have seemingly boring (to me) interests. I, on the other hand, get charged up by social interaction. So it's a dynamic that makes me dislike my job.

kayleamay
01-20-2010, 06:54 PM
I'm an RN in an emergency department so my job is to have whatever social skills are required to get the job done. Sometimes I have to persuade, sometimes I have to be the diplomat and sometimes I have to be bitchy and blunt. I would fail miserably at my work if I didn't know how to be assertive. I would not be a good person to hire for a butt kissing job.

ETA: I have had butt kissing jobs in the past. I can do it if I have to, but there is usually a completely different line of dialogue in my head than the one that is spewing from my lips. (My last job was to translate human speak between engineers and customers who were already pissed off by the time they got to me.)

Alpha Echo
01-20-2010, 06:56 PM
Because it's not genuine. People who bullshit to a script are liars. They're insincere. They don't mean a single word they say. They're paid to say it.

You are right. I really, really hate fake people.

James81
01-20-2010, 06:58 PM
I don't know why people annoy me so much.

When I find myself being consistently annoyed by other people, I take a step back and look inside myself. Because I've realized that when most people, most of the time, annoy me, it's usually because I am annoyed with myself in some fashion and I am just projecting that annoyance onto others.

scarletpeaches
01-20-2010, 07:03 PM
Or maybe it's just that they're bastards.

NeuroFizz
01-20-2010, 07:11 PM
Or maybe it's just that they're bastards.
I object! My father was a known and demonstrable commodity.

James81
01-20-2010, 07:11 PM
Or maybe it's just that they're bastards.

:tongue

Granted, there are some real douche bags out there. I won't say there aren't.

But I'm discovering that I (in my own personal life here) attract to myself people who tell me something about what's going on with myself.

For example, Up until about 9 months ago, I was attracting people who would drain me mentally/physically and people who had major issues. I tainted my view of the world based on those people because it's ALL I ever saw.

Then, I had a huge change of perspective on myself and life in general and suddenly I'm finding people interesting and fun. Have people really changed that much in the 9 or so months that I've been at this? No, not really. But I have. When I changed my perspective and myself, the world around my changed.

I know that sounds cliche and tired and like a load of hot smoke being blown straight up your ass (lol), but it's my personal experience and it's helped me grow quite a bit.

kayleamay
01-20-2010, 07:15 PM
Peach, maybe you should become a nurse. I get to say things at work all the time that most people don't.

Examples:

"Sir, I can either charm you out of your pants or I can take them by force, but either way, they're coming off."

"I know you don't like needles, but you're having a heart attack. If you don't let me do my job you are greatly increasing the likelihood that you will die."

"Listen. If you take that mask off one more time the doctor is going to come in here, drug you into a coma and shove a tube down your throat. I don't want that. You don't want that. Keep the mask on."

And my favorite:

"SECURITY!"



ETA: You probably already use that first one on a regular basis anyway.

semilargeintestine
01-20-2010, 07:44 PM
Don't forget, "This won't hurt me a bit." :D That's a favourite of mine in the OR.

kayleamay
01-20-2010, 07:52 PM
Don't forget, "This won't hurt me a bit." :D That's a favourite of mine in the OR.

I never use that one. My patients generally remain conscious, and will not forget if I have lied to them. However, I do tell them that taking the tape off when it comes out will hurt more than the needle. They never believe me, until I'm taking the tape off.

semilargeintestine
01-20-2010, 08:07 PM
That isn't a lie. I said it won't hurt ME, not them. That usually makes them laugh.

kayleamay
01-20-2010, 08:12 PM
That isn't a lie. I said it won't hurt ME, not them. That usually makes them laugh.

Ahhh....I didn't catch the "me"

semilargeintestine
01-20-2010, 08:49 PM
I find that joking around puts surgical patients at ease. They see you acting as though it's not such a serious thing, and they calm down a little. I've had maybe one or two patients in five years not like the joking, and you can tell before you do it by the way they talk to you.

Alpha Echo
01-20-2010, 09:04 PM
When I find myself being consistently annoyed by other people, I take a step back and look inside myself. Because I've realized that when most people, most of the time, annoy me, it's usually because I am annoyed with myself in some fashion and I am just projecting that annoyance onto others.

Nope. I'm pretty content with myself, actually.



Or maybe it's just that they're bastards.

This.

Yeshanu
01-21-2010, 01:00 AM
I find that joking around puts surgical patients at ease. They see you acting as though it's not such a serious thing, and they calm down a little. I've had maybe one or two patients in five years not like the joking, and you can tell before you do it by the way they talk to you.

A good sense of humour is a must have in a PR position. I joke around with guests all the time as a theatre manager. It helps diffuse stressful situations, like long line ups and expensive popcorn.

When I get the occasional (perhaps only one in every hundred or two, to be sure, but when you do 27 hundred people in a day, it adds up) asshole, I remind myself that the person behind the asshole in line is not only probably NOT another asshole, but someone who, if treated respectfully, will go out of his or her way to be kind to me because the person in front of them was such a douche bag to me.

I had to kick out a quartet of noisy girls a couple of weeks ago, and they started yelling at me as soon as I motioned for them to get up. Then the rest of the audience got into the act by clapping as they left. It didn't stop the girls yelling, but it sure made me feel better. I have to constantly remind myself that most of my guests are pretty nice people, and it's only a very few who are idiots, and we can ban the idiots. :D

dgrintalis
01-21-2010, 01:12 AM
Yes. I am a professional belly dancer so I always have to keep a smile on my face and be nice, even when I'm dealing with difficult restaurant owners or rude customers. It's as much a part of the job as my costume or my dance skill.

DWSTXS
01-21-2010, 02:23 AM
I'm pretty much out on all the overly-annoying cretins who waste my time. I deal with coaches and video electronics systems, and the coaches are pretty much living in their own la-la world where everyone kisses their ass and tells them how great they are.

I figure it's up to me to get their feet back down on the ground.
99% of them have college degrees, which I find astounding, since most of them can't spell cat if you spot them the c and the a.
seriously. If you look at the education system in this country from the standpoint of how well the athletes have done, you'd be horrified.

On the other hand, I'm also a sales manager and I have to deal with employees who deal with customers, so I have to help/teach/manage them in sales related matters.

So, I sort of walk a tightrope between being able to speak my mind, and not being able to.
Maybe that's why I've turned into a weekend absinthe-holic.

LOL

bettielee
01-21-2010, 02:50 AM
I deal with morons people on the phone all day. I've been told I have a nice voice. I make my boss laugh, cuz I have up and go from sounding like... we all imagine Susie sounds to sounding like a longshoreman.... I cuss and swear and call them naughty names after I hang up.

http://smiley.onegreatguy.net/scream.gif

But I have to handle the a-holes and if I couldn't, I would probably sob on the way home every day. I work in a specialty business, and people don't understand why I don't have the pump mechanism to their multiple station washfountain in stock - forget that I've been there 17 years and never had to order this part for anyone before...

Not that I don't do that anyway, but I have learned how not to let these people get to me.

Xelebes
01-21-2010, 02:50 AM
I wish I had social skills. Then I could have a job.

Oh, the life of an autistic. *shrug*