Coexistence 104: Tact & Charm

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Coexistence 103: The Unspoken Rules Of Society

Tact is the ability to honor norms and to empathize

  • We are all feeling creatures, and we need to have others identify with us
    • Since every person has been hurt at some point, everyone has barriers up to protect themselves from being potentially hurt
    • Our ability to communicate is based on how well we can empathize
  • Empathy is the art of understanding how others feel and appealing to it
    • Another word for empathy is tact, which is about bringing kindness and gentleness back to a person who shows it towards you
      • Find ways to deliver genuine praise to others
      • Try to see things from their point of view and from their background
    • Sympathy is simply identifying what others experience, but empathy is feeling and thinking what others are feeling and thinking
      • Most people find this uncomfortable when dealing with negative and painful circumstances from others
        • They’ll give advice to help get them out of the problem, even if that’s not possible
        • They might use a generic term like “you have to bear the burden” or “everything happens for a reason”
        • The best thing is to say “I acknowledge your pain, and I am here for you” or simply stay silent
      • Empathy is not always about giving unconditional compassion
        • Idiot compassion is giving sympathy to keep from seeing someone suffer
          • It enables bad behavior and gives a victim mentality to the venter
            • It brings the focus to the circumstances of the person, not their actions
            • There are better ways to be compassionate through asking better questions:
              • “What is the challenge you are facing?” instead of “What did they do to you?”
              • “How have you responded?” instead of “What should they have done?”
              • “How has that worked out for you?” instead of “How are they wrong?”
              • “What could you do now?” instead of “What should they do now?”
              • “If you need help, who can you ask?” instead of “Who should fix it?”
              • “What can you learn from this?” instead of “How should they be punished?”
          • Many people will “fish” for idiot compassion, and their feelings will be hurt even more deeply from a healthy approach to it

To be tactful, you need to have a high emotional intelligence

  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage personal emotions, understand others’ emotions the ability to provide valid reasoning with emotions
    • Emotional intelligence is not personality or “being nice”
      • While emotional intelligence measures what you can do, personality is what you would prefer to do
      • Emotional intelligence will naturally understand when being nice is the best option, but also understands its time and place
  • Emotional intelligence is a balance between the rational and emotional parts of the mind
    • Capacity to work with emotions and understanding what actions are best to respond to them
      • Having the words to describe feelings that are being felt
        • There are thousands of words to describe feelings that are felt throughout a normal day
      • Ability to delay gratification
      • Patience in tolerating conflict and uncertainty
      • Ability to stop a train of thought in order to become more self-aware
    • Ability to receive and express emotion in the face, voice or body language of self and others
      • Ability to know at all times:
        • What you are feeling right now
        • What you expect to feel tomorrow
        • The last time you felt frustrated
      • Ability to interpret emotions to find causes and motivations
      • Thinking using feelings and sentiment to process ideas
  • Many of the most famous and infamous people have very high emotional intelligence
  • A lack of emotional intelligence causes consistent problems in the ability to work with others
    • Reacting to feelings or trying to find blame instead of processing what is going on
    • Vagueness that doesn’t match what the person is trying to say
      • When people say general statements they often mean specifics:
        • “X Group is…” actually means “X person made me feel…”
        • “Why do people…?” actually means “My friend did…”
        • “I think most people want…” means “I want…”
      • Typically, that vagueness leads to others misunderstanding those ideas and further hurting the person who is miscommunicating
      • Also, by saying those statements, the mind will encode the statements to memory, which can actually cause unintentional bigotry over time
    • Consistent impatience and frustration with others and their behaviors

The most important social skill for emotional intelligence and tactfulness is listening

  • Everybody has their own opinions, and they want to be fully heard
    • Deep down, all anyone really wants is a good listener
    • Anyone who feels they are not being listened to won’t want to listen to you either
  • Listening is not just hearing words, it’s several skills tied to understanding the point of view someone is sharing
    1. Actually physically hearing the words being said and the body language it’s said with
    2. Mentally filtering out the message and remembering it in a way that the speaker wanted you to hear
    3. The ability to perceive their emotions through the spoken ideas and connect it to those ideas appropriately
    4. Understanding the meaning of the message as it applies to your own understanding of the world
    5. The ability to use feelings and reasoning to understand the full meaning behind the words being said
    6. The ability to remember the information after understanding it
    7. The capacity to respond with the appropriate emotions for the context
    8. Patience to continue taking in information and processing it appropriately
  • Passive listening is easy to do
    • It is the most common form of listening, and is a great start if you have a hard time listening
    • Stay attentive, stay silent, give nonverbal feedback
    • Don’t provide input or suggestions as you listen
  • Active listening is easy to understand, but harder to master
    1. Have an attitude of respect and acceptance towards the person by honoring them
      • Their ideas are the most important thing in your life at that specific moment, and they need to feel that focus
      • Treat them as equal or greater than you
      • Avoid any prejudgments or bias that you may want to make about what they’re saying
        • Every story has at least two sides to it, and it’s good to always be flexible to changing sides
        • Try not to take action on anything they say until you’ve thought it over and heard it all
        • If you really don’t care, take the majority opinion
          • People like others who have extreme opinions more than they like others with no opinion
      • If you do get annoyed, irritated or angry at anything they say at any time, there are only two good options:
        • Admit openly with them about feeling annoyed
        • Postpone the conversation until you’ve calmed down
    2. Focus exclusively on them
      • Value their words as more important than your own
      • Devote every bit of your attention to the other person, no multitasking or hastiness involved
      • Pay attention to nonverbal cues that show how they are feeling
    3. Reflect back whatever they are saying
      • Acknowledge their emotions by affirming what they say
      • Use nonverbal communication like nodding, copying body language and changing posture
      • Use phrases and supportive sounds like “yes”, “go on”, “mm”, “ah”, “okay”, etc.
    4. Spend a few seconds in silence after they’re done to be sure they’ve said everything they’ve wanted to
    5. When responding, you need to always start with repeating or paraphrasing something they’ve said
      • Be concise, unbiased and without adding in your own commentary to it
      • There are three levels of responding:
        1. The first level is to repeat the message back to them using the exact same words they used
          • Depending on who you talk to and how you say it, this can actually sound patronizing to them
          • This is safest if it’s a technical or tense situation
        2. The second level is to repeat the message back with a similar set of words and phrases
          • This is the safest way to go if you don’t know how receptive the other person is
        3. The third level is to say the message in your own words with your own phrases
          • This shows you actually understand their message
          • This can only be done by understanding things from their point of view
    6. Ask for clarification on certain parts with one of the following techniques:
      • State what you think they said as you understand it
      • Check whether something was what they really meant
      • Use open and unassuming questions if appropriate
      • Ask if you understood something correctly, re-tell the story and prepare to be corrected
      • Admit you are unsure about what they mean
      • Ask for specific examples when appropriate
    7. When you ask for clarification, you have many ways to open up the dialogue:
      • The scope of the answer can be varied
        • Open questions (e.g. How was that strategy useful? What did you do then? Which approach did you use?)
          • Meant to encourage others to open up
          • Often starts with why, what, where, which and how
          • Use these questions the most
        • Closed questions
          • Require a very specific answer
          • Can start with did you, will you, have you, who, when, etc.
          • Should be used sparingly, since they tend to make any conversation feel awkward and one-sided
      • You can dive in directly for information, but be careful
        • Probing questions (e.g. Why do you think that happened? What does that mean? Can you be more specific?)
          • Used to clarify something already said or to find out more detail
          • Many are helpful in creating rapport, but if over-used it will make people feel interrogated
        • Leading questions (e.g. So wouldn’t it have been better to…? Don’t you think you should have…?)
          • Questions that imply that there’s a right answer to a question
          • They need to be used carefully, since they contradict the idea of being non-judgmental
        • Negative questions
          • More specific statements followed with a confirm/deny question
          • This is used more for interrogation and rarely in proper conduct
      • The question can be worded for you to get more clarification
        • Control questions
          • Asking a question you can already answer to determine a person’s baseline behavior
          • This can be insulting if used wrongly
        • Reflective questions (e.g. “I feel frustrated with myself.” “What is this ‘frustrated with myself’ feeling like?”)
          • Often used to check and clarify your own understanding
          • Allows speaker to fully explore their knowledge of something
        • Paraphrasing questions (e.g. “I’m hearing you say that (your own paraphrase). Am I understanding this correctly?”)
          • Checks your own understanding of what they said
        • Repeating/persistent questions
          • Asking several different questions to get the same information or asking the same question to get different information
          • This can cross-check information, but it can’t prove truthfulness
          • This might be offensive if the other person catches it, since it will seem that you’re not listening
      • The questions can be meant to force the responder to think or be more relaxed
        • Hypothetical questions (e.g. What would you do if…? What would happen if…?)
          • Measures how someone would act or what they think about a possible situation
          • Gives the person a chance to discuss new ideas or new approaches
          • This question needs to be shared with the right body language or it will look like a leading question
        • Unrelated questions
          • Meant to make the other person more comfortable or to destabilize their train of thought
          • It can be used for shifting the subject or to throw them off
          • This is highly context-sensitive, so use it with care
        • Summary questions
          • Gives a summary of what the person said
          • Will show the person that you’ve been listening intently
      • Some types of questions should never be asked
        • Vague questions
          • By asking vague questions, you responder won’t know how to answer
          • Avoid vague questions by using more carefully selected words
        • Compound questions
          • Asking several questions at once, which is often impossible to answer at the same time
          • The responder will often forget the second question by the time they finish answering the first
          • Slow down and don’t let emotions take advantage of you
  • By listening correctly, you will achieve amazing results with others
    • People will think you’re very smart and a respectable person
    • They will be more inclined to listen to you and hear your views
    • When done right, active listening is guaranteed to make people more receptive and open
      • Build rapport by showing undivided attention and reassuring that they are safe with you
      • Encourage the other person to keep talking
      • Restart a completely stopped story or fill in any gaps you may have missed
      • Confirm, improve or correct your understanding or improve their insight about you

Charm is the ability to make others think you are interesting

  • People don’t usually define charm, but they certainly feel it
    • A charming person is accepted in most of their daily life
    • They feel comfortable and interested in the person
    • They want to learn what that person has to say
    • They want to see more of that person’s life, even if they don’t agree with that person’s values or lifestyle
    • The logical consequence of being charming is the ability to be persuasive and influential
  • A charming person leaves a good first impression
    • First impressions come in the first seven seconds of seeing someone
      • If it’s a long-distance impression like the internet, it becomes the first few seconds of seeing the person’s content they’ve displayed
      • 80% of a first impression comes from someone’s posture
  • Charming people have a specific mindset
    • Optimistic – have an overflow of desire that comes naturally and abundantly
      • This is a byproduct of success in other past endeavors
      • Stay generally pleasant all the time
      • Stay focused on what can happen successfully more than possible or past failures
      • Have a genuine enthusiasm for good news that others tell you about
      • Maintain your innocence and mental purity, which can be challenging depending who you associate with
      • Give honest and sincere appreciation
      • Avoid saying unconstructive negative things and use reason to guide what you say
      • Be excited and balanced between the extremes of passionate and fun
        • Too much passion will make you seem overbearing and intense
        • Too much fun will make people not want to take you seriously
    • Genuine –  having a connection between what you look like and what you say
      • Verbal and nonverbal communication need to line up
        • Communication is made of 3 parts:
          • The actual words you say – 7%
          • How it was said – 38%
          • Your body language – 55%
        • Most communication beyond the words you say is done subconsciously
          • Therefore, if you want people to think you’re actually happy, you need to actually become happy
          • This is a matter of changing your identity, not your actions
          • Identity change requires self-knowledge
      • People are more able to see a disconnect between words and actions in you than you can see in yourself
        1. Always strive to be genuine with others
        2. If others don’t want to be genuine, then work towards a genuine relationship with them
        3. Most people work through pre-recorded social skits, but at that point a genuine person will leave the conversation
      • Contrary to popular thought, being agreeable is nowhere near as important to people as being understanding
    • Bold/Confident – not afraid of others, their thoughts, or truth being shown
      • Answer the questions that people are afraid to ask
      • Live by values and not just by feelings
      • Do new things and meet new people all the time
        • Face every social situation like it’s a competitive challenge to be overcome
      • Stay in control of what you can, and have no need to control what can’t be controlled
        • You can’t control anyone else or what they do, but you can control how you respond to it
      • Become resistant to criticism from people who have not proven their worth
      • Arouse an eager desire in other people, which may vary depending on who you talk to
        • Inspire a “call to action” that motivates people to a greater purpose after they leave you
    • Open-Minded – there has to be a desire to change from the other person’s actions, or that person will feel patronized
      • Look at things from the other person’s point of view
      • Ask for advice from others in a realm of experience they may have
      • Be quick to admit you’re wrong or have made a mistake when the evidence presents itself
        • Don’t immediately counter, think deeply on what they sid
        • Ask for forgiveness quickly to mend any problems with others
        • Most people never apologize before they’re found out, and it shows character to be the first to apologize
      • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
      • Avoid any arguments that can be avoided, but don’t be afraid of conflicts
    • Trusting – is willing to give others the benefit of the doubt
      • Trust has been described as consistency over time
      • Ask for small favors from everyone you meet, which shows that they are worth you trusting them
      • Give without keeping track of what you’ve given
      • When receiving try to avoid looking at the gift with a lot of criticism, skepticism or for “strings attached”
    • Focused – be wholly devoted to who you’re talking with, no matter how many other people are in the room or what needs to be done
      • People feel more connected from how much they think you know about them than how much they know about you
      • Make the other person a priority to you
        • Greet people by name and learn to remember names
        • Make and keep direct eye contact
        • Ask thoughtful questions that show you care and are listening
        • Make that other person, their words and their ideas more important than yours
          • Value the person, not just their ideas
        • Look for something praiseworthy, and give genuine praise
      • Listen to what they are saying without interrupting
      • Keep opinions to yourself unless prompted or it fits the context
    • Sensitive – gain awareness of yourself and others
      • Use emotions openly
        • Facts and information don’t interest people, but feelings and passions do
          • To share feelings requires vulnerability, which will be uncomfortable if your background didn’t have that
          • A simple technique to learn vulnerability and openness is to practice with people you know are “safe”
          • Often these feelings, if left unchecked, will come out as overbearing and overly intense
        • Learn to graciously accept compliments instead of minimizing your own efforts
      • Think before you speak
        • Choose your words carefully, and check to ensure that it matches the feeling you want to convey
        • Pay attention to your feelings and learn how to restrain yourself from saying things you don’t really mean
        • Observe your audience, and think about what will most identify with who you are speaking to
        • Take your time speaking and make sure you’re enunciating your words clearly
      • Make every request, demand or recommendation you want to make into a “request sandwich”:
        1. Express gratitude or an affirmation (You’ve done very well, but if I had to make an improvement…)
        2. Make the request or correction (…you could try to be less forward with your tone…)
        3. Wrap it up with a kind statement or another affirmation (…overall, though, great job!)
      • Gentle and understanding of others
        • Pay attention to the limitations of yourself and others
        • Give them time to think about what you said
        • Understand their need for privacy
        • Give warnings as far in advance as possible about changes that will come
        • Privately reprimand or instruct them
        • If they have insecurities, calmly bring up the feelings that they are afraid to say
        • Suppresses extreme happiness or making jokes around someone suffering
        • Not blaming or criticizing someone if they have done their best, and only doing it tactfully in private
        • Pay attention to the other person’s focus, and be mindful of their time and comfort
          • Learn when it’s best to scale back the intensity, focus, passion or idea
      • When talking about others
        • Speak well of them, as if they were in the room with you
        • Avoid spreading rumors
        • Try to put a more positive outlook on any negative news you hear
        • If you must speak negatively, connect it to yourself, since you’re just as prone to failure as every other person
  • Charming people show positive and confident body language as a result of their mindset
    • Overall
      • Demonstrating the right attitude without words:
        • “You matter and so do I!”
        • “I trust you and respect you!”
      • Strong posture
        • Open shoulders, arms squared and not crossed
        • Sitting or standing with back upright and chin up
        • Leaning forward into who you’re engaging with, but only slightly
      • Understand and uses physical touch in a meaningful and purposeful way
      • Faces the person directly with their body
      • No quick or jittery movements
    • Face
      • Smiling regularly and openly
        • Practice smiling in the mirror in order to avoid making a fake smile
        • Smiling at the right time is also essential
      • Maintains eye contact throughout conversations, but avoids staring
        • Make 2/3 eye contact by cycling from the left eye to the right eye to the nose and back
        • People who are interested in others start from looking far out and moving their eyes inwards like a spiral
      • Tilts head when sympathetic
      • No difference between initial half-second subconscious reaction to news and actual expression
    • Arms and legs
      • Expressive arms with hands open
      • Firm but comfortable handshake
      • Feet pointing to the other person
  • Charming people tell great stories and anecdotes to dramatize ideas, which always have the same 4 parts:
    1. Introduce a main character to the audience
      • If this is retelling a past experience, the character is someone you know already
      • Keep the story accurate, at least on the important details
    2. Cause the audience to fall in love with that character
      • This is where you need to most know the audience you’re speaking to
      • On rare occasions inspire a different strong feeling for them instead
    3. Put that character in a tough situation
      • It needs to be tough for the character, not necessarily for the audience
    4. Have the character survive the situation and come out victorious
      • This doesn’t always mean the victory the character was striving for, either
      • Many profound stories give the character a lesson they were never looking to learn
  • Being charming is absolutely necessary to making friends
Next: Coexistence 105: Making Friends