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5 Ways to Be a More Effective People Person Want your social butterfly to soar? Try these tips.

By Jeff Boss Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


It doesn't matter how great you are at your job. If you don't relate well with people, you're not going anywhere.

Relationships make the world go round. Without other people's feedback, it's easy to become limited in your own mental silo of information or constrained by your own experiences.

To say that managing emotions is important is an understatement. After all, when was the last time you were motivated to be in a conversation with somebody who was angry, abrasive and just downright mean? Didn't think so.

Related: A 6-Step Program for Improving Your Communication Skills

If you want to extend your circle of influence you must learn how to work with and through people. Here are five ways to build your inner social butterfly to be a more effective people person:

1. Start with "you."

Many people confuse the difference between sympathy and empathy. To sympathize is to feel for the other person. To empathize is to view the other person's perspective from his or her own shoes while not passing judgment. Sympathetic statements originate from you, such as, "I'm sorry to hear about it," or "My sincerest apologies." Alternatively, empathic statements are aimed toward the other person, such as, "You must feel so proud!" If you want to turn the tide of relationships, try empathy.

2. Avoid the robot response.

Rather than following the robotic question-answer sequence of, "How are you?" "Good. How are you?" try to actually answer how you feel. Make it personal. After somebody asks you how you are, you could say, "Actually, I've had better days. I spent entirely too much money last night and have nothing to show for it but a hangover and an empty wallet -- and I put my shoe on backwards this morning."

Think there would be some follow-up conversation here? Probably.

Related: 6 Steps to 'Dancing' Through Conversations With Your Business Partners

3. Ask, don't tell.

What's the one topic people like talking about the most? Themselves. So the more interest you show in the other person the more he or she finds you interesting. After all, when somebody demonstrates a genuine attentiveness toward you, you don't turn your back and walk away (or maybe you do and that's why your co-worker sent you this article).

4. Be quiet and just listen.

One major pet peeve of mine is being in a conversation only to notice the wheels inside the other person's head begin turning before I (or whomever) finish speaking. What this indicates is that the person isn't listening but rather thinking of how to respond. When this happens, I like to slow down my rate of speech to see if the other person will chime in.

The point here is to just be present, in the moment, and responsive in your next discussion.

5. Beware your tone.

If you don't think tone or voice modulation matters, see if you can tell the difference between these two statements: "I can't believe you did that!" and "I can't believe you did that!" Notice the difference? They both express surprise, but the former is more praiseworthy whereas the latter conveys more condescension. It's not all about what you say, but how you say it that matters.

Apply these five tips to your next encounter and watch that social butterfly soar.

Related: Please Stop Saying These Ridiculous Phrases at Work

Jeff Boss

Leadership Team Coach, Author, Speaker

Jeff Boss is the author of two books, team leadership coach and former 13-year Navy SEAL where his top awards included four Bronze Stars with valor and two Purple Hearts. Visit him online at

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