As we were rising up in life and in business, we were encouraged to be students of people, communication, and success. We began to focus on interpersonal skills, which included both personal and situational awareness. Personal awareness means that you are intentionally tuned in to the way you are coming across to others. Situational awareness is analyzing each moment to assess how other people are interpreting your tone, body language, and statements. These soft skills were always on our radar, and over the last decade of building ourselves and our business, we’ve identified a lot of different areas that people may struggle with, or may have room for improvement.
Originally, when crafting this list, our goal was to think of ten things that we had to work on throughout the years. We thought that would be difficult, but we blew past ten… then fifteen… and had to stop at twenty because we probably would have written down fifty things that we’ve improved on. So here’s a list of twenty things that we always like to keep on our minds to make sure we are doing our best in these areas. These are the qualities and actions that help create trust, positive connections, great communication, and conversational comfort. These things all activate laws of attraction.
This list wasn’t created to encourage you to criticize yourself. Instead, it’s an invitation to self-reflect. Try to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I have room for improvement?” Rate yourself from one to ten in each of these areas. And before you start, know that no one is a ten. If you think you’re a ten, you’re probably a six. Realistically, none of us are perfect and we all have room for improvement. We are not ashamed to admit that we were in the twos and threes in a lot of these areas. But over many years, because of the improvements in my own personal awareness, communication skills, and desires to connect better with others, we have brought those ratings way up. Doing so has helped us become more successful not only in business, but also in life.
So here is the ‘START Doing & STOP Doing’ List…
1. Smile (and do things that make other people smile): Smiling makes you easier to talk to.
My mentor always told us, if you are excited, remind your face. Often, people think their internal happiness shows on their faces. Yet the people they talk to would say otherwise. So do yourself a favor: Go to the mirror and rate yourself on your smile. Make sure that it is warm, friendly, and contagious.
2. Use Humor: Use appropriate humor. Have enough personal awareness to avoid being edgy or weird. Don’t feel pressured to take it to the extremes and become a comedian during a conversation. Instead, keep your humor light, and present yourself as easy going.
3. Have a Good Handshake (If you need a reminder: “Not too short, not too long, not too weak or not too strong!”): If you don’t know if you have a good handshake, grab your hand with your other hand. Analyze your grip. Is it too weak? Too strong? Is it clammy? Whatever the issue, adjust and tailor your handshake in order to make the best possible first impression.
4. Maintain Good Eye Contact: Look people in the eye to show respect and demonstrate that they have your full attention, but make sure that you refrain from “crazy eyes”, staring intensely and making things awkward.
5. Show Good Manners (Please and thank you are still magical words): Be grateful and humble. Be polite. Use good manners.
6. Use Good Language (No profanity): As a business owner and a grown-up, using horrible language can be an absolute deal breaker. No matter your upbringing, you must acknowledge that certain people find cursing to be extremely offensive. Broaden your vocabulary and replace profanity with family-friendly adjectives.
7. Don’t Be Argumentative: Instead of being pessimistic or confrontational, be a solution seeker.
8. Don’t Lose Your Temper (Master your emotions): You can’t always control your situation, but you can always control your response. Be slow to anger, take a deep breath, and step away if you need to. It’s better to take a moment to collect yourself than to lose your temper and have to face the consequences.
9. Remember a Person’s Name: The sweetest sound to a person is their name. Take the time to learn how to pronounce it correctly, and memorize it, then use their name to make your interactions more personal.
10. Encourage and Uplift (Words are powerful): Use your words for positive things. Don’t tear people down. You don’t want to use your words as an anchor that holds people back. You want to use your words as a buoy that pushes people up.
11. Give Sincere Compliments: If you notice something special about someone, tell them. Sincere compliments can make their day, week, or year. Think back on your life. Can you remember someone saying something nice to you? We all have compliments that we carry throughout our lives. Be the person who gives the gift of a compliment worth carrying.
12. No Gossip: Talk to each other, not about each other.
13. Return Calls, Texts, and Emails in a Timely Manner: Use the golden rule and treat people how you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want someone to ghost you, show the same respect by being professional and returning texts, calls, and emails in a timely manner.
14. Be on time (No… BE EARLY): On time is 15 minutes early. Adjust your schedule if need be.
15. Be Enthusiastic With Your Communication – Be Fired Up! (Positive energy = attraction!): When it comes to energy, a 10 out of 10 is weird, and a 5 out of 10 is sleepy. So find a good 8 out of 10 in your enthusiasm if you want to maintain good energy.
16. Have a Positive Attitude: Positive words lead to positive thoughts. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions. Positive actions lead to positive results. If you’re not getting positive results in your attitude, work on the power of the spoken word. Back yourself up and ask, “Am I communicating prosperity, victory, and happiness? Or am I communicating struggle, pain, and regret?” If you aren’t happy with your results (or your attitude), go all the way back to the root and ask yourself whether you are using the right words.
17. Be a Good Listener: I was told by my coach, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should listen twice as much as you talk.”
18. Be a Server (“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others!” -Gandhi): Often, the biggest people in life and business are the biggest servers. The more you help other people get what they want, the more you are going to build success. Be “others focused”.
19. Have Posture (But also be friendly): Posture is how you hold yourself. (In communication, it’s how you are presenting yourself.) Are you communicating in an apologetic way where you are a people pleaser who lets others step all over them? Or are you communicating in a confident way that adds value to people and clearly communicates that you are somebody who knows what they are doing. Be confident – desperation is the world’s worst cologne. Desperation repels people.
20. Forgive Yourself and Others (Your past doesn’t define you): I’ve saved the most important action for last. Your past doesn’t define you and your future is unwritten. Stop dragging around the ball and chain that is holding you back. Break those chains and go live your best life. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Bitterness and resentment (towards another person, or a situation) is like drinking poison and hoping that someone else gets sick. Let it go.
You’re going to have strengths and weaknesses in some of these categories. Put the things you need to add to your life on your ‘Start Doing List’. Then make a list of qualities and actions that you need to remove from your life, and title it your ‘Stop Doing List’. You choose your habits and those habits will create success or failure. Use your self-awareness to really focus on improving your habits in the right areas, and watch how your connections and business endeavors bloom. YOU GOT THIS!