People Skills

Why Understanding People is a Life Saving Skill

What is people skills?

Have you ever heard of ‘people skills?’ (well, you have now)

I consider this one of the most important skills a human being can have. Because understanding why people are the way they are will make a difference in maintaining good relationships. But what is the definition of people’s skills? This is a skill employers love!

A Forbes article described people skills as  “the various attributes and competencies that allow one to play well with others…” I couldn’t agree more, and the word ‘playing’ implies a child like mentality and approach to relationships. You see, children always get into fights.  but eventually they forget their differences and end up playing with each other again. I think we are born with people skills and then along the way they get tarnished and damaged then need repairing.


Why Am I even talking people’s skills?

This blog post came about very naturally if you ask me . I had a misunderstanding with a family member a while ago and I just couldn’t understand their reactions. Look, no matter how tough someone can look, they still have feelings. But as obvious as that can be I think it is easy to forget that people have emotions like us (sounds vain, but it’s true).

Looking back at the old classic movies (or cartoons I should say),  they often portrayed big tough guys as really sensitive and big softy inside. I have learnt to not let people’s looks fool me, after all even mature men cry from time to time.

This realisation made me see people in a different light because it is so easy to put ourselves before everyone else and to undermined what other  are feeling. I just want to share a thing or two from what I learnt from personal experience.

Men cry too

When I first saw my dad cry; I just couldn’t believe my eyes, I thought to myself, something must be terribly wrong. By the way, I was probably about 9 years old at the time. I then got to understand that my uncle had passed away. This was my first time experiencing grief, and it cut really deep.

Understanding that emotions can sway people in different ways,this should really make you sensible to how you approach people. I know grief is such a strong emotion but for me it’s the best emotion I can use to make people understand my point.

No one really wants to experience grief, because it’s such a hard emotion to shift and get over. Well, I have learnt to treat people in a same manner, don’t allow people to feel emotions that are hard to shift. Don’t allow your feelings to spill over which consequently make someone feel grief like emotions that will impact them for a long time to come.

The emotion factor: What has emotion got to do with it?

My sister in-law sent me a very cute message the other day. And here it is:

“Everything Heals. Your heart heals. The mind heals. Wound heals. Your happiness is always going to come back. Tough times never last only tough people do.”

I was so touched by this tiny yet powerful message, in fact, it almost made me cry because the message came at such a perfect time. Although  healing is inevitable and that is a really reassuring to many of us. But we need to remember that scars are a reality too and if you have scars on your body you will know they take a long time to fade. So ideally I prefer to avoid causing any wounds.

I found a very enlightening article the other day which highlights why emotions are important. It pointed out the following points.

  • Emotions Help Us Survive, Thrive, and Avoid Danger
  • Emotions Can Help Us Make Decisions
  • Emotions Allow Other People to Understand Us
  • Emotions Allow Us to Understand Others

The one that stood out to me the most, is the one that talked about decisions making. This is because I know what it means to make decision based on feelings, they are the worst kind of decisions and often leads to regret. So I think twice when I speak because I know it can impact someone’s feelings and therefore their emotions.

The environmental factor

The second factor to consider when trying to understand people is their environment is different from yours. People come from different background, cultures, religions, upbringing (The list is long). Why people are quick to claim that their ideology is better than everyone else? I don’t know. Why people are always claiming their culture is superior than the rest of ours? I don’t know. But what I do know is, there is bound to be one thing which you can appreciate in a foreign culture. At least one.

And if like me you were born in Africa but raised in the west, you may have come to embrace two different cultures, and to be frank I am never over critical or fanatical of any of the two cultures. But one thing I have come to understand is that it is useless to make someone see from your perspective when they have never seen through your eyes. I would love for people to have walked in my shoes but the reality of things is that people may never walk in our shoes.

in conclusion…

Once you come to understand the fact that people have similar emotions to yours and that their environment is why they are the way they are, it will create a tolerance and instill patience when dealing with people. It will change your reaction and social interactions with people forever. so now you know that some people smile and some people don’t, some people look others in the eyes some others don’t. Some cultures spit while others don’t. Now you may understand why people skills has helped me and may help you in your relationships.


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