Coexistence 104: Tact & Charm

Back To Main
Coexistence 103: The Unspoken Rules Of Society

Every aspect of daily life incorporates politics

Everyone wishes to attain influence with others

Politics is the art of maintaining and building influence

Even games or small controlled environments possess politics from outside the enclosure

Most of the skill in understanding politics is understanding who knows and identifies with what

  • What others know, expect, and feel
  • What others know, expect, and feel about what you and others know, expect, and feel

The most effective influence comes through tactful behavior

Tact requires understanding others’ desires

Tact is the ability to honor norms and empathize

We are all feeling creatures and need others to identify with us

  • Everyone has been hurt at some point and has barriers to protect from future harm
  • Our ability to empathize with others’ hurt determines our ability to communicate

Empathy is the art of understanding and appealing to how others feel

An empathetic person must be kind, compassionate, possess a good self-concept and be self-compassionate

Empathy responds back to kindness and gentleness

  • Find ways to deliver genuine praise to others
  • Try to see their point of view from their background

Sympathy is identifying what others experience, but empathy feels and thinks others’ feelings and thoughts

Most people respond inappropriately from discomfort to others’ painful circumstances and hardship

  • They’ll give unhelpful advice about the problem, even when it’s impossible to follow
  • They may make a cliche statement like “you have to bear the burden” or “everything happens for a reason”

When other people go through hardship

  • Contact them soon and stay in touch, but let them do most of the talking and avoid sharing about yourself
  • Listen without judgment and avoid giving any advice
  • When listening, share back how difficult their experience is instead of “I know how you feel” or “At least…”
  • Let silence persist in helping unpack the feelings
  • Offer help, but only to the degree you can follow up on
  • The best thing is to say “I acknowledge your pain, and I am here for you” or to stay silent

Empathy is not always unconditional compassion

  • Idiot compassion gives sympathy to keep from seeing someone suffer
  • Idiot compassion brings focus to the circumstances of the person venting, but not their actions
  • It enables unhealthy behavior and allows others to maintain a victim mentality
    • Many people try to steer conversations toward idiot compassion
  • Ask better questions to be appropriately compassionate
    • “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?”
  • If someone wants pity instead of change, let them persist in it and move on

Tact needs high emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or Emotional Quotient (EQ), balances the mind’s rational and emotional sides

  • However, unlike IQ, EQ can be trained through learning

EQ helps us understand body language, read others, and visualize how others feel

  • Even though EQ doesn’t make awkward social situations easy, high EQ makes life simple

Many of the world’s most famous and infamous people have very high EQ

EQ understands feelings and the best way to manage them

Perpetually aware of every feeling they and others have

  • What they’re feeling right now
  • What they expect to feel tomorrow
  • The last time they felt frustrated

Possesses all necessary words to describe commonplace feelings

  • Thousands of words can describe the variety of mundane feelings experienced throughout a routine day

Can delay gratification and practice self-control

Patiently tolerates conflict and uncertainty

Can stop a train of thought as part of learning self-awareness

Can focus and discipline themselves toward a higher purpose

Finds causes and motivations for emotions in self and others

Thinks with feelings and sentiment to process logical ideas

Appropriately expresses and receives feelings in the face, voice, and body language

EQ isn’t personality or “being nice”

EQ measures what you are capable of doing

Personality is what you would prefer to do in different situations

Though kindness is often a worthy option, EQ understands its time and place

Low EQ causes consistent problems with others

Reacting to feelings or looking for blame instead of understanding what’s happening

  • Consistent impatience and frustration with others and their behaviors
  • Inability to misunderstand a group dynamic

Vagueness that doesn’t match what that person wants to say

  • People can often say general statements when they mean specific ones
    • “X Group is…” meaning “X person made me feel…”
    • “Why do people…?” meaning “My friend did…”
    • “I think most people want…” meaning “I want…”
  • Vagueness typically leads to others misunderstanding those ideas and responding to the wrong concept
  • By saying those phrases, the mind encodes it to memory and often creates unintentional bigotry over time

Advanced EQ allows masterful strategic social interactions

  1. Walk into a room and within seconds find the most influential people to further a purpose
  2. Immediately conform to others’ expectations while navigating to the desired individuals
  3. Connect with the correct people to advance personal goals while appropriately managing the crowd’s feelings about them

Honor the universal rules of propriety

Make a “request sandwich” of your requests, demands, suggestions, and recommendations

  1. Express gratitude or an affirmation
    • You will offend them if you’re not genuine
    • They must see your good intent to hear what you have to say next
  2. Make the request or correction
    • If the person is high context, share it indirectly
      • Talk about a personal story
      • Asking questions makes it less confrontational
      • Be careful: vaguely spoken issues may sound worse than directly confronting them
    • If people see how you live, they often know what you’re going to say before you say it
  3. Wrap it up with another kind statement or affirmation
    • A second positive expression leaves the listener’s experience on a positive note

Manage your reputation

Imagine someone is always recording everything you say and do and showing it to the public

Address every mistake and lie immediately and take full responsibility for it

  • Never sidestep the conversation or find a justification to excuse yourself
  • Apologize clearly
    • Explain why you did it if it helps them to know
    • Use self-deprecating humor only if it’s inoffensive, but avoid it if it takes away from the authenticity of the apology
  • If you have ever taken advantage of another’s situation, rectify it immediately

Meeting someone or running across someone you don’t like

  • Focus on a redeeming quality even you can’t stand being in the same room with them
  • To leave, make a vague excuse and avoid outright telling them you don’t like them

When choosing a less popular decision (e.g., not drinking alcohol)

  • Don’t draw attention to it
  • If others bring it up, give a light and general explanation
    • They care less about why you don’t want to than to pressure you to do it with them
  • If they keep pressing, lighten the conversation with humor and redirect it

Proactively manage rumors

If someone is spreading a rumor about you

  • In public, stay near them to prevent them from spreading more rumors
  • Calmly let them know what you overheard without pressuring them to explain

If someone is spreading rumors about someone else

  • Don’t repeat the rumor to anyone, though it may serve the victim to know it
  • Change the subject to stop the gossip
  • Ask the person sharing if the victim knows about it and is okay with them knowing
  • If the rumor is false, publicly point out how it can’t be true

If someone is sharing something you wanted private

  1. Don’t blame them if they’re telling another person involved about the problem
  2. Consider why they let the secret slip
  3. Give them the correct degree of forgiveness

Approach others’ failings correctly

Consistently praise whenever you see someone’s behavior improve from what you’ve seen in the past

When someone else has behaved rudely or practiced poor manners

  • Pass off minor slights without comment
  • Make sure they want to hear correction before you say anything
  • Use “I” statements to share your viewpoint
  • Share the problem through a story or personally similar failing
  • Promptly talk it out with them later if it merits future discussion, but forget about it otherwise

If you know someone is lying to you

  • Hint at what you know
  • Suggest you don’t believe them
  • If you must have a confession, directly confront them

If you cannot hear someone for whatever reason after they’ve repeated themselves

  • Thank them for their patience and restate what you heard
  • If you’ll unlikely hear them again clearly enough, suggest a future more audible time or to write to each other

When people ask probing questions about personal life decisions

  • Remember they’re not prying as much as discussing in what they imagine is the best method
  • Ask what their opinion on the matter is and then give them information that changes their initial judgment

When people are sharing too much information about themselves

  • Remember that they want a connection and don’t realize they’re alienating themselves
  • Immediately say one of the following
    • “I’m probably not the person to tell this to”
    • “Whoa, TMI!”
    • “Let’s not talk about this, someone might hear you”
    • “It hurts me to hear this, let’s talk about something else”
  • If the person continues to over-share, use a more casual environment like going to a movie

If the person won’t stop talking

  1. Lean forward and assume a calm and patient demeanor
    • People keep talking because they don’t feel they’ve adequately expressed themselves
  2. Shift the energy of the conversation
    • Tell an appropriate joke to what they’re talking about
    • Look contemplative and say “hmmm” to stop them for a few seconds
  3. Redirect the conversation to something else

If the person rarely speaks

  • Commenting on their quietness or making general small talk will make them quieter
  • Ask about them or talk about something you know they like
  • Instead of trying to continually fill the silence, use it for contemplation

Learn how to imply “no” with your actions

If you have guests over and want them to leave

  • Give verbal or nonverbal cues that you wish to be alone
  • Mention legitimate limits like an appointment or the need to sleep
  • Ask to schedule new plans to imply the end of the visit
  • Give them a parting gift to indicate you want them to leave

When someone overstays a multiple-day visit

  • Ask questions about their departure to clarify they must leave soon
  • Take them out to a farewell drink or meal to mark their leaving
  • Create an appointment you can communicate they must depart beforehand for

If someone isn’t respecting your privacy

  • Remember that they feel insecure and distrustful and need open discussion
  • Ask what they were hoping to discover to clear up any issues

If someone else brings you into their conflict

  • Speak neutrally with everyone else around
  • Since it’s not your conflict, avoid jumping into it
  • Be honest with everyone involved about the difficult situation you’re in

When someone is screaming at you or behaving angrily

  1. Acknowledge their feeling
  2. Offer an apology for any portion you have done wrong
  3. Refer to a future that promises things will be okay

When others ask for a favor you don’t want to give

  • Say “no”, there’s no way around it
  • Relenting after saying “no” means they’ve manipulated you, so stand firm

If someone is selling something to you

  • Say you don’t have time and ask for followup information such as a website
  • If you don’t need their product, express admiration for their tenacity

If someone is romantically attracted to you and you don’t feel the same way

  • Be honest about your feelings
  • Tell them that you don’t want to take the relationship further, but avoid details
  • Avoid vague words that could give a false hope that you may change your mind

When others ask you to review their work and you don’t want to

  • We usually want to decline to review because we know they’ll take it as a review of them more than their work
  • If they ask for brutal honesty, they likely aren’t ready for it
  • Ask what kind of specific feedback they want to avoid crossing boundaries

If someone is working against an agreed-upon plan

  • Show numerical or physical evidence of the risks their continued actions will bring
  • Give fair guidelines for everyone moving forward

By and large, the most important social skill is listening

Correct listening achieves terrific results with others

  • People will think you’re brilliant and respectable
  • They will be more inclined to listen to you and hear your views

Everybody wants their opinions fully heard

  • Deep down, everyone wants a good listener
  • People typically don’t listen to those whom they feel haven’t listened to them

Listening goes beyond hearing words

Listening is several skills in understanding others’ points of view

  1. Physically hearing words said and its associated body language
  2. Filtering the intended message and remembering it how the speaker wanted it heard
  3. Perceiving and connecting their feelings throughout the spoken ideas
  4. Understanding the message’s meaning as it applies to you
  5. Applying feelings and reasoning to understand the ideas’ full meaning
  6. Capacity to remember information after understanding it
  7. Ability to contextually respond with appropriate emotions
  8. Patience to continue hearing and appropriately processing information

Listening has levels of involvement

  1. Completely ignoring
  2. Pretending to listen
  3. Selective listening – only hearing pieces of information and inferring the rest
  4. Informative listening – processing information
  5. Appreciative listening – making and responding to nonverbal cues
  6. Intuitive listening – interpreting with wisdom to discern hidden meaning beyond stated ideas

Great communicators master listening

  • They listen to reply, not just to understand
  • Great responses make the first person feel it came from their ideas
  • They open up the conversation more with silence and make people want to talk with them

Great listening is a hybrid of passive and active listening

Being agreeable is nowhere near as important to people as being understanding

Passive listening is the simplest and most common form of listening

  • Stay attentive, stay silent, give nonverbal feedback
  • Don’t provide input or suggestions while you listen

Active listening is easy to understand but challenging to master

People are more receptive and open if you’ve successfully built rapport through active listening

  • It reassures them that they have your undivided attention
  • It encourages the other person to keep talking because they feel safe with you
  • It restarts a stopped story or fills in gaps you may have missed
  • It confirms, improves or corrects your understanding or improves their insight about you

1. Respect and accept the speaker

  • Focus on them to where they can feel it
    • Value their words as more important than your own
    • Devote every bit of your attention to them without multitasking or hastiness
    • Observe nonverbal cues that show how they are feeling and echo them with nonverbal affirmations
    • If you can’t listen at the moment, openly clarify when you want to discuss the matter
  • Avoid any possible prejudgments or bias
    • Pay attention to your pre-existing viewpoints and expectations
    • Every story has at least two sides to it, and stay open to understanding all sides
    • Avoid taking action on what they say until you’ve heard the whole story and considered it
    • People like others with extreme opinions more than with none
      • Take the majority opinion if the discussion doesn’t matter much to you
  • If what they say annoys, irritates or angers you, avoid talking further
    1. Admit your annoyance openly with them
    2. Postpone the conversation until you’ve calmed down

2. Reflect whatever they say back to them

  • Affirm what they say to acknowledge their feelings
  • Use nonverbal communication like nodding, copying body language, and changing posture
  • Use phrases and supportive sounds such as “yes”, “go on”, “mm”, “ah”, and “okay”

3. After they’ve finished, spend a few seconds of silence to ensure they’ve finished their thoughts

  • Silence isn’t awkward if you show you are genuinely thinking about what they said

4. When responding, always start repeating or paraphrasing something they said

  • Be concise and unbiased
    • Don’t add commentary into your summary
    • People can tell when others aren’t listening, so you must legitimately desire to understand
  • There are three levels of response
    1. Repeat the message back to them with their exact words
      • Use exact repetition in a conflict or technical discussion
      • Repeating exact words might sound patronizing in some contexts
    2. Repeat similar words and phrases with the same idea
      • Approximate repetition works if you don’t know how receptive they are to you
    3. Rephrase the message in your own words and phrases
      • Rephrasing indicates you fully understand their message from their point of view
      • Great responses explain their opinion better than they can

5. Ask for clarification on anything you care to know more about

  • State what you think they said as you understand it
  • Check whether they meant the exact words they said
  • Use open and unassuming questions
  • Ask if you understood something correctly, re-tell the story, and prepare to be corrected
  • Admit uncertainty about their meaning
  • Ask for specific examples

Open up the dialogue when asking for clarification

Vary the scope of the answer

  • Open questions encourage others to open up
    • Often starts with why, what, where, which, and how
    • e.g., How was that strategy useful? What did you do then? Which approach did you use?
    • Use open questions the most
  • Closed questions require a specific answer
    • Can start with did you, will you, have you, who or when
    • Tends to make conversations feel awkward and one-sided, so use sparingly

You can dive in directly for information, but be careful

  • Probing questions try to clarify something already said or find out more detail
    • e.g., Why do you think that happened? What does that mean? Can you be more specific?
    • Probing questions may build rapport, but will make people feel interrogated if they’re overused
  • Leading questions imply that there’s a right answer to it
    • e.g., So wouldn’t it have been better to…? Don’t you think you should have…?
    • Use them carefully, since they contradict the idea of being non-judgmental
  • Negative questions are more specific statements followed with a confirm-or-deny question
    • Negative questions rarely function in proper conduct and are more often used for interrogation

Use questions to gain clarification

  • Control questions determine a baseline behavior because you already know the answer
    • Control questions can be insulting if used wrongly
  • Reflective questions check and clarify your understanding
    • e.g., “I feel frustrated with myself.” “What is this ‘frustrated with myself’ feeling like?”
    • Reflective questions let the speaker explore their knowledge of something more fully
  • Paraphrasing questions confirm your understanding of what was said
    • e.g., “I hear you say that (your paraphrase). Do I understand that correctly?”
  • Repeating or persistent questions ask several questions for the same information or the same question for different details
    • Repeating or persistent questions can cross-check information but can’t verify truthfulness
    • Someone who catches a repetition will feel not listened to and likely be offended

Some questions force others to think or relax

  • Hypothetical questions measure how someone would act or think about a possible situation
    • e.g., What would you do if…? What would happen if…?
    • Hypothetical questions give people a chance to discuss new ideas or approaches
    • A hypothetical question with incorrect body language will feel like a leading question
  • Unrelated questions make others more comfortable or destabilize their train of thought
    • Unrelated questions shift the subject or to throw people off
    • Use unrelated questions carefully, since context can determine how people respond
  • Summary questions give a paraphrased summary of what someone else said
    • Summary questions show you’ve been listening closely

Never ask certain types of questions

  • Vague questions
    • By asking vague questions, you responder won’t know how to answer
    • Avoid vague questions with more carefully selected words
  • Compound questions, or asking several questions at once
    • Compound questions are usually impossible to answer together at the same time
    • The responder will often forget the second question once they’ve responded to the first
    • Slow down and don’t let your feelings take advantage of you

Charm is how interesting others find you

People don’t usually define charm, but charming people guarantee they’ll feel comfortable

Charming people are inherently interesting

  • People want to hear more about what they have to say
  • People want to see more of a charming person’s life
  • People are interested in charming people even when they disagree with values or lifestyle

Charm starts with a great first impression

The first seven seconds of seeing someone form first impressions

  • 80% of a first impression comes from standing or sitting posture
  • Dress as nicely as appropriate for a great first impression with everyone as soon as you enter a room
  • Keep your hands warm while greeting anyone

A long-distance connection like the internet uses the first few seconds of seeing that person’s published content or hearing their voice

People tend to remember the first and last things the most, so always open and close strong on everything

A first impression sets up the opportunity for a relationship

  1. A first impression determines if someone wants to engage with you
  2. This interest in you leads to a connection
  3. The connection is a starting place for building trust
  4. Trusting connects you to others to create a network

Charming people are naturally persuasive

Persuading others is a process

  1. Think deeply about what you believe
  2. Share the causes for your beliefs, but not what you believe
  3. Give the listener plenty of time to think it over
  4. Share what you think as your perspective (“My belief is that…”)
  5. Give them time to think it over again
  6. Don’t talk about the subject again

Charming people are sensitive to themselves and others

Uses emotions openly

  • Facts and information don’t interest people, but feelings and passions do
    • Sharing feelings requires vulnerability, which can be uncomfortable
    • Practice vulnerability with people you know you can trust
    • Unchecked feelings often express as intense and overbearing
  • Graciously accepts compliments instead of minimizing oneself
    • Saying “thank you” respects them, but invalidating achievements tells them they’re wrong
  • When others give advice or correction, they say “you’re right” instead of “I know”
    • Often, thanking them for advice solidifies a reputation

Thinks before they speak

  • Restrains from saying emotional things they don’t entirely mean
  • Chooses words carefully and checks to ensure it matches the feeling they want to convey
  • Notes their audience and considers what would most identify with them
  • Takes time to speak and enunciates words clearly

Gentle and understanding of others

  • Pays attention to limitations of self and others
  • Gives others time to think about what they said
  • Understands the need for privacy
  • Warns as early as possible about coming changes
  • Privately reprimands and instructs
  • Avoids blaming or criticizing someone’s best efforts
  • Calmly brings up feelings others are afraid to discuss
  • Suppresses extreme happiness or jokes around others’ suffering
  • Observes the other person’s focus and mindful of their time and comfort level
  • Knows when to scale back intensity, focus, passion or ideas

Talks appropriately about others

  • Speaks well of them as if they were in the same room
  • Avoids spreading rumors
  • Sets a positive outlook on any negative news
  • Sees everyone as naturally prone to failure and connects any negativity to themselves through it

Charming people use body language to show optimism and confidence

Communication has three parts

  • 55% body language
  • 38% how words were said
  • 7% actual words stated

Demonstrates 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

Uses physical touch in a meaningful and purposeful way

  • Directly faces the person with their body
  • No quick or jittery movements

Smiles frequently and openly

  • Practice smiling in the mirror to avoid a fake smile
    • Your eyes should close a little from your cheeks pushing on them
    • You should also see crow’s feet
  • Even when on the phone, smiling makes you sound happier and more pleasant

Maintains eye contact throughout conversations, but avoids staring

  • Make eye contact by cycling from the left eye to the right eye to the nose and back
  • People interested in others spiral their eye movements inward slowly from farther out

Genuinely expresses what they feel

  • We make a subconscious half-second reaction to news before we express what we want others to see, and charming people flow with their legitimate feelings
  • Tilts head when sympathetic
  • Smiles at the right time

Uses arms and legs expressively

  • Keeps hands open
  • A firm but comfortable handshake
  • Feet pointing to the other person
  • Mirrors body language of who they’re talking to

Most nonverbal communication is subconscious

  • You must be happy if you want others to think you’re happy
  • Changing nonverbal language is changing your identity, not your actions, which comes mostly from self-knowledge

Charming people dramatize ideas with great stories and anecdotes

  1. Introduce a main character to the audience
    • If this is retelling an experience, you know the character already
    • Keep the story accurate, at least on the essential details
  2. Cause the audience to fall in love with that character
    • Understand the audience you’re speaking to
    • On rare occasions, inspire a strong feeling other than love
  3. Put that character in a tough situation
    • Make the situation tough for the character, but not necessarily for the audience
  4. Make the character survive and come out victorious from the situation
    • The victory doesn’t have to be the one the character was striving for
    • If you want, give the character a lesson they were never looking to learn

Charming people have a mindset behind their image


  • A natural and abundant overflow of desire
  • Optimism is a result of past success
  • Generally always pleasant
  • Stays more focused on what can succeed than possible or past failures
  • Genuine enthusiasm for good news
  • Maintains innocence and mental purity
  • Gives honest and sincere appreciation
  • Avoids speaking critically
  • Balanced between extremes of passion and fun
    • Too much passion feels overbearing and intense
    • Too much fun feels lackadaisical and uncommitted
  • Arouses an eager desire in other people
    • Inspires a “call to action” that motivates people to a higher purpose after they’ve left
    • Desire in others varies depending on the group


  • A complete connection between what they say and appear to be
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication line up
  • People can always see your attitude, even when you hide it
    1. Be authentic with others, especially in personality, passion, and purpose
    2. If others don’t want to be authentic, work toward a genuine relationship with them
    3. Most people will continue using pre-recorded social skits, but honest people leave when they can’t find authenticity in others

Boldly confident

  • Unafraid of others, their thoughts or revealed truths
  • Answers questions people are afraid to ask
  • Lives by values and not only feelings
  • Consistently tries new things and meets new people
  • Faces every social situation like a competitive challenge
  • Stays solely in control of what they can
    • You can’t control anyone or what they do, but you can control your responses to it
  • Resistant to criticism from others who haven’t proven their validity
  • Sidesteps avoidable arguments but also unafraid of conflicts


  • Legitimately desires to change from others’ actions
  • Looks at things from the other person’s point of view
  • Asks for others’ advice according to their scope of experience
  • Quickly admits mistakes or incorrect judgments when evidence presents itself
    • Thinks thoroughly on what others say instead of immediately countering
    • Quickly asks for forgiveness to mend any conflicts
    • a tremendous display of character comes from apologizing before being found out
  • Doesn’t criticize, condemn or complain

Trusting (also known as “consistency over time”)

  • Willing to give the benefit of the doubt
  • Asks small favors of everyone they meet to show they are worth trusting
  • Gives without tracking what they’ve given
  • Avoid assessing gifts with criticism, skepticism or for ulterior motives

Focused on who they’re talking to

  • People feel more connected from what they believe you know about them than what they know about you
  • Wholly devoted to a conversation irrespective of how many others are in the room or pending work
  • Makes the other person a priority
    • Greet people by name and remembers them
    • Maintains direct eye contact
    • Asks thoughtful questions that show they are listening and care
    • Values the person, not just their ideas
    • Make the other person the most important thing to them
    • Looks for something praiseworthy and gives genuine praise
  • Listens to others without interrupting
  • Stays silent on their opinions unless it’s appropriate or prompted

Your charm determines how well you can make friends

Next: Coexistence 105: Making Friends