How to Become a People Person, Part 2

Mar 28, 2018

by Jean Thilmany ASME.org

Part 1 outlined the importance of developing soft skills in professional development. Here, Part 2 highlights additional strategies and best practices.

Another soft skills trainer is Steven Cerri, who heads STCerri International of San Rafael, CA, and leads workshops that teach communication and interpersonal skills to technical professionals.

For one exercise, Cerri twice asks the class to program a videocassette recorder. The first time, he uses a condescending verbal tone and body language. He uses the exact same wording when making the second request, but this time asks in a calm, straightforward manner.

Students usually report they felt tense as they began their work after he condescended to them. After the second time he asks, they felt more at ease and were better able to work on the equipment, he says.

“I remind them I used the same words. I only changed my tone,” Cerri says. “Then they understand how important tone and body language is in communication.”

Brush Up on some Interviewing Basics for Engineers

 

The advantages of soft skills development. Source: RTM Consulting

 

Randy Mysliviec, president and chief executive officer at RTM Consulting, teaches soft skills to employees at technology companies. He tells students that before they communicate with someone, they should first determine the best medium over which to convey a message, whether via text message, email, phone call, or in person.

They should also wait a bit before sending e-mails or messages or before making a phone call in order to reread them or to prepare, he says.

Students can work on showing concern, empathy, or confidence at home- both verbally and through body language - and then call upon those lessons when meeting with others.

Think of interpersonal skills as a kind of muscle that gets stronger when exercised over time. Businesses don’t expect their employees to become smooth talkers. But they do want them to be able to read, listen to, and respond to client and team communications in the best ways possible.

“We don’t want to just teach someone how to do a calculation,” Freedman says. “We want them to be able to communicate to the client what that number means and why it’s needed.” Jean Thilmany is an independent writer.

We don’t want to just teach someone how to do a calculation. We want them to be able to communicate to the client.Kyle Freedman, Enercon Services

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