| May 31st, 2007

Enhance Your People Skills

[from our archive]

A few months ago I attended this conference that focuses on helping women in their career and personal development. This gave me an opportunity to learn about  many topics including conflict management, negotiation and positive confrontation techniques, presentation skills etc. All these, known as soft skills or people skills, can help one in his/her professional and personal lives to deal with other people and be a more effective person. I am going to share some of those here with our readers.

There was a talk about “The Power of Positive Confrontation” by Barbara Patcher. This is from her book with the same title. She said, many sticky situations we face in our day to day life, sometimes we are bothered by other peoples’ behavor, yet very seldom we are able to confront those people politely and powerfully. Either we don’t say anything (but say it in their back) or we say it rudely, either way it makes the realtionship worse. But if we can deal the situation with positive confrontation techniques we could solve some issues at the same time improve the realtionships with those people. Interstingly enough, she says she was this person who was never able to confront, she herself spent a lot of time in her adult life learning this skill.

Pat Kirkland gave a talk on “How to Manage with Power”. In the power game we are either a predator or a prey. She taught a way when even if you are considered a prey you can act such a way that you can take control and achieve a positive result. Both the parties can be in a win-win relationship. One doesn’t need to a boss always to manage with power, things she said could help the employees to take control. This skill can help in any relationship, be it between a parent and a child, a husband and a wife or a  manager and an employee.

Barbara Stanny mentioned something that really opened my eyes. She said if you want to make a significant difference in your life you have to come out of your comfort zone. You have to strech your capabilities in order to make a leap. Think about it – when you want to jump you  are to put more energy than when you are walking but the jump takes you to a higher position than you were before.

There a was a talk by Patricia Fripp on presentation skills. Key points were, don’t start with something clich’e (stereotype ). The opening should say what you are going to talk about, then talk about it and in summary say what you just talked about. For example, you are the third speaker in a meeting, you start with, “Ladies and gentlemen, Thanks for taking time today to come to this meeting…”, do you think that is really getting any attention from your audience? Not really. Insead you could say, “In the next fifteen minutes, you are going to hear about some magnificient story about …”.

I personally was very excited to learn about all such things and so these days I started reading more on these topics. Below is a list of books from those speakers and others in case anyone is interested. And no, I am not getting anything for this free advertisement:). Hope our readers will be benefitted from these as well.

Book list:

Fripp, Patricia – Get What You Want
Fripp, Patricia – DVD: Preparing Powerful Talk
Fripp, Patricia – CD: Inside Secrets
Fripp, Patricia -Opportunity Doesn’t Knock
Gandy and Clark – Choose! The Role that Choice Plays in Shaping Women’s Lives
Harvey and Herrild – Comfortable Chaos
Laschever, Sara – Women Don’t Ask
Pachter, Barbara – The Jerk with the Cell Phone: A Survival Guide for the Rest of Us
Pachter, Barbara – The Power of Positive Confrontation
Pachter, Barbara – When the Little Things Count…and They Always Count
Stanny, Barbara – Overcoming Underearning
Stanny, Barbara – Prince Charming Isn’t Coming
Stanny, Barbara – Secrets of Six Figure Women
Stanny, Barbara – Why Women Earn Less: How to Make What You are Really Worth


7 Responses to “Enhance Your People Skills”

  1. Faria says:

    Excellent, excellent article!!

    Good list of reading material. It behooves all women to learn the “guy” talk, as women, in their personal and professional lives, have to play in a playing field where the rules have been set by men. So women got to play by the guys’ rules.

    Also, I had to write a paper on conflict mgmt, one of the sections was titled “gender differences”…..

    Gender Differences
    In the author’s opinion, gender differences are pretty much the same throughout the world. Regardless of what ethnic or religious background one comes from, women are expected to behave in a certain way and men in other ways. From reference [2]:
    “Women are expected to be sweet, calm, gentle, charming, mild and helpful. Women are discouraged from being involved in conflict, assertiveness and direct confrontation. Women are expected to be fair and to compromise.
    Men learn that to do well, it is important to look like a mean, aggressive player and posture aggressiveness. Men learn how to speak and present in a certain way to contribute to the illusion of power. In the game of business, if you don’t know how to do something, men understand that the best idea is to fake it.”
    When a woman complains, coworkers think she does not know much and is whining. When a man complains, coworkers tend to take his complaint seriously.

    (Ref 2)Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business by Pat Heim, PhD. With Susan K. Golant

  2. jyotsna sarabu says:

    All said and done, isn’t reading a book and implementing it in our day to day activities, in itself a cliched way of learning……rather passive……..

    nevertheless, the list of books mentioned above sounds very interesting….i can’t but resist the tempation of buying them all………

  3. Sharmin says:

    Hi Jyotsna,

    There are things that will never be cliche. Reading book is one of them. These days doctors and psychologists recommends parents to read to their children, so thay can grow a habit for reading.

    You don’t need to buy all of them, if you are in the US you should be able to find some of those books (or books with similar topic) in your local library.

    Other than reading, you could listen to some of their audio CDs. Also you could attend their talks if possible.

    Also if you have noticed I have mentioned their websites (hyperlinked with their names), those sites have some good materials to start with.


  4. Oneza says:

    Thanks Sharmin for sharing the info!
    Bangladeshi women usually lack people skill such as presentation skill. In our culture, women are raised with an impression that they need to be soft-spoken and non-confrontational as Faria has already mentioned. Therefore, it is important for women to learn these skills through books and other methods possible.
    I think what jyotsna mentioned as cliche is the very basis of learning – reading books is still the strongest media of learning. Here in Adhunika’s platform, we are also learning through our discussions 🙂

  5. rama says:

    Hullo! I really appreciate your efforts to spell out what a civilised, healthy, mature, humane sensibility means. Thisis not taught at home by parents, nor by teachers in school, nor by elders in society, or colleagues in the workplace. With the result that people are regressing to the level of brutes. So all strength to you! Best, rama

  6. Sharmin says:

    Just for clarification, those skills are useful for rude and agressive people as well:) (I mean irrespective of men and women).

    Those of us who are raised not to confront, we actually do lots of yelling (negative confrontation)when we can’t take it anymore. Posive confrontation can definitely help there.


  7. Phantom says:

    Refyr#1-“have to play in a playing field where the rules have been set by men. So women got to play by the guys’ rules.”

    Just a humourous quip that I gathered from another site.This should make u wonder a bit.Here it is:-

    When we are born, our mother’s get the compliments and the flowers.
    When we are married, our brides get the presents and the publicity.
    When we die, our widows get the life insurance.
    What do women want to be liberated from?

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Adhunika blog is launched with a mission to share knowledge among women from every walk of life. Sometime it would be in the form of sharing experience to find a feasible solution of a problem; sometime it would be in the form of professional consultation, which Adhunika group will arrange for its bloggers. Nevertheless, the intent of this blog always remains the same - to help and empower women through a common web-based platform....read more



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