I read a phrase the other day that caught my attention. “Social and emotional skills in the workplace.” I could understand where they were going with the social skills. It is good to look a person in the eyes, smile, and shake their hand, if appropriate. That makes a good impression, and signals that a person is directly involved, treats the other person as worthwhile, and shows self-confidence. The handshake can range from a firm grasp between two strong people, or the gentle pressing of the fingers with a frail or arthritic person. A handshake to avoid is the limp fish hand that falls away loosely without any sincerity.
It is also good to make brief small talk about the weather or something of general interest. A sincere compliment is appreciated about someone’s appearance or demeanor. “Your cheerfulness is uplifting.” That generally brightens my day.
But what took me back for a moment and caused me to think about it was the emotional skills part. The phrase was referring in part to conflict resolution. I’ve always associated conflict resolution with someone having a dispute with a neighbor about a dog’s incessant barking, or some such. But there are times when we get the wrong change, an item doesn’t work properly when we get it home, or a salesclerk is just plain rude. How do we handle these incidents in a graceful manner, keep our cool temperament, and most important, get satisfactory results? I believe the first step is to control our emotion of anger, fear, or whatever pops up fast, and take a moment to think of a response. Look for win-win solutions: the offended remains gracious and kind but firm, the offender saves face while correcting the situation where possible. “Of course, I will look into the matter. I’m sure we can find a solution.”
There are other emotions we must deal with in public places, because we are human, and we all have emotions. For example, the restaurant is short handed, and the waitress is trying to serve double the tables she normally has. She doesn’t wait on you for several moments, and then you see someone who has arrived after you get their food. What do you do? You can get up and leave, loudly cause a fuss and embarrass your family, berate the waitress, or calmly, with a smile on your face, ask the waitress or the manager if your order has gotten lost, and ask if you can help in any way. You might not get your food any faster, but the wait staff knows you are alert to the problem and expecting resolution. And who knows, maybe you can get your own water, napkins or eating utensils if they are open serve.
These social and emotional skills are not usually taught in a classroom environment, but learned as we interact with each other out in public. In an age of easy rage on the streets or in public places, it would be good if we learned how to defuse potential problems before they escalate into something bigger. I purchased a book, The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande that I would recommend to anyone interested in conflict resolution in business or church environments. I found it to be excellent.
Another good book, the Bible, deals with ways for people to get along together. It recommends love. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for further details.