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David Brooks

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How to Play Well With Others

When I was thirteen years old, my mother gave me a paperweight that said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” She went on to say, “honey, I love you but you just run people over with your talking. You have to learn how to listen to people. Life is about collaboration, not manipulation.” This advice was a major influence on me for the rest of my life.

You can’t always choose who comes to the playground and you won’t always get a say in who you’re working with. You don’t have be friends with everybody. You don’t even have to like everybody. It’s also important to recognize that different personalities add different perspectives and that, when managed well, can actually make a group more productive.

The key to being a successful word of mouth Ambassador is to listen. Not ‘listen while thinking of your reply. But. Just. Listen.

People like and respect people who really listen. Listening is a sign of respect, empathy and tolerance. The more we listen, the deeper and stronger we bond with others.

When you’re talking with friends & family, consider these 6 things:

  • Listen without planning a response. (This is important – especially when it comes to the last point I’ll discuss today).
  • Ask questions. Questions that will give you more insight into the other person’s concerns.
  • Show interest in their concerns. You don’t have to agree to show interest. Trust me on this one! I have done this a lot.
  • If you can, get them to focus on the solutions to the concerns, and not just the problem! If all we do is focus on the problem we become an expert on problems. Say to them: ‘I get it, I see the issue’. Now, the real question – what’s a realistic solution. Problems are easy to understand, it takes real smarts to find solutions. So, what’s a solution? If they give you a lousy solution, then say ok, that’s one possibility, what’s another realistic solution. Coach them into calmness.
  • Clear, open, honest and direct communication is the best way to deal with emotional or negative people, or to deal with other people that are dealing with emotional or negative people. Every single time I’ve had big challenges with people is when one side or the other held back in the communication. That doesn’t mean unload on people, it means talk to people professionally.

Here are five things to be aware of:

  • Make yourself invaluable to people by listening and focusing on positive solutions.
  • Stay clear of drama and rise above politics. You can do this by checking your emotions and focusing on results.
  • Don’t complain – be positive. Complaining is not an Olympic sport.
  • Stay aware of your emotions. Don’t let others limit your success.
  • Use your support system. Share to others about the solution.
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