Happy New Year, everyone! I imagine a lot of you are thrilled to see the end of 2018. For me, it was a year of endings and beginnings in a lot of ways — ending my career in teaching (at least for the next 4 years), beginning a PhD. It was a year of dramatic transformation and self-discovery. Especially when it came to improving my verbal communication skills and relating to other people!
And yet, I welcome 2019 and wish to see more transformative processess taking place in the world. I aim to be a part of it and will talk about my project in the next post. In the meantime, I’d like to share a video about the importance of having good people skills, which I made for a scholarship competition at Activia Training UK,.
About the scholarship competition
For the competition, I had the option of writing a blog post or creating a video for Youtube. I chose to make the video (because of the higher reward value, to be honest). There were four topics to choose from:
- The importance of learning and how it has impacted your life
- Good “people” skills and how you use them
- Technical or job-specific skills and how they make you more employable
- How this scholarship award will help you
I chose number 2 because having good people skills have become an important priority for my research. It is also an area I need to develop most, as you will hear in the video. I hope you enjoy watching. In case you prefer reading, I have included the text below (but it’s not word-perfect).
Why having good people skills is important and how do I use them?
Transcript of video
Hey everyone. I’m Tammy, and for my first Youtube video ever, I’m going to talk about why having good people skills is important.
To begin, good people skills are relevant to most professions. I guess you could still hermit yourself away in a lab cave somewhere, but even then you could benefit from having the skills to interact with your peers and especially the public.
And for a social anthropologist, which is what I am studying to become, my subject is human social behaviour. So I would say having people skills is a key component to my success as a researcher.
Effects of social anxiety on people skills
But here’s the catch. Social anxiety has always had a disabling effect on my ability to connect with people. As a result, it has always been difficult for me to make and maintain friendships. And I can give you an example.
Over a decade ago, I invited a co-worker out for a cup of coffee, and she said yes. It was the first time we went out together, and I was excited and nervous, of course. I had thought carefully in advance of what I was going to talk about, and I decided on philosophy.
So, here we are. We meet up at the café and sit down with our coffee in hand. And I don’t waste any time fluffing about with small talk. Instead, I jump right into the ‘prepared’ conversation by asking her a question. Here’s what I ask her: “do you think that some people are inherently better people than others?”
Maybe I could guess what you’d be thinking in that moment: AWKWARD!!! And yes, it was very awkward! Let’s just say my enthusiasm was not infectious!
After many conversations ending like this one did, I learned to keep my mouth shut, which is probably the most unfortunate coping strategy I took from these experiences.
Anxiety doesn’t have to be a barrier
So people skills, right? It begs the question: why on earth would I choose social anthropology as a profession if I can’t manage to communicate with people? The truth is, I feel that for the first time in my life, I have a voice. And I found this voice through anthropology. Before starting my PhD, communicating even on Facebook was kind of terrifying.
But now, here I am making this video to share with friends and strangers, something which would have been an impossibility less than a few months ago.
Obviously, having a voice doesn’t mean I now magically have the people skills that have been missing for a life-time. But it does mean that I can see a way forward. Good people skills are vital to who I want to become. And so I have to practice these skills. I do this by staying longer at parties and socials, by going with someone who encourages me to step out of my shell (and who won’t let me escape back into it).
My next step is to go to a networking event and chat to people, share my ideas, accept my mistakes and, more importantly: to get the hell out of my head for once!
I really hope you enjoyed this video about why it’s important to have good people skills. Thank you so much for watching!
Thanks for reading, and check back in a week or so for the next post about my research project!
Here’s a peek at my research topic’s keywords: Britain, children and racial awareness.