Thursday, May 12, 2011

some writing, spliced (ramblings, if you like)

During the initial few weeks of the 2nd sem at school, i sort of came up with 4 important tools for better social interaction:

1. People profiling
2. Perception management
3. Expectation management
4. Sincerity

Let's go tool by tool:

People profiling
People profiling takes place before and during the first conversation, and continues throughout a prolonged association, a relationship, as well as future interactions. It's really a natural thing that people do whenever they meet new people. Perhaps a suitable word to be used here would be to 'suss' out someone new - gathering information about the other person in order to make a couple of decisions.

The first decision would perhaps be whether or not we would even want to talk or have any association with that person. The second decision would probably be the types of conversations that we would probably have with that person. The third decision that follows after a couple of moments of interaction would possibly be the degree of association or relationship we would probably have with the other person.

But i'd like to think that 'people profiling' goes deeper than that. 'Suss-ing' people out is something that most of us do subconsciously, most of the time. We would not normally go into a certain interaction 'blind' and simply begin it. What i am advocating (or currently am), would be an active 'suss-ing' out of people. Now how do we do this? (Perhaps i would elaborate on these in the future, but for now, some surface details)

On the first level, we would want to find out what kind of person we are interacting with. Is he a good person, is he a bad person? Now what i am probably doing here is actually asking people to 'judge people' upon perhaps their first impression. We all know that this is not always the best idea, since given more time, we would tend to understand the person better. Ultimately, whether or not we like it, we tend to make this subconscious read on people within the first minute of interaction. While i am asking is for people to actively give an initial assessment of the new person, with a pinch of salt, in that we should make allowances for changes to this assessment as the duration of interaction increases. This initial assessment is important, especially in a room of more than 20 people, since perhaps by the end of a meeting, a seminar, a conference, you would probably not have the chance to interact with all 20 or more people. Why is this important? To make informed decisions about people (as discussed previously). When is this important? Whenever we are called to make decisions about people, whether or not it would be to include someone in a project team, recruitment of sorts, or for invitation to future engagements, we need a measured impression of the other party in question. Not in all situations do we have to profile everyone in the room, just those that are important, and would become important to us in the future. In other words, we need to be able to first identify our potential partners of interaction, and then conduct an active profiling of those particular people.

The second level of people profiling would be to assess their capabilities, as well as their willingness to contribute and engage. I would not say that this level of profiling is as simple as the first, or if you would like, fair to the potential partners of interaction. Sometimes you can get a direct read off a potential partner's words ('i just want a job that i can relax, take it easy, and wait for the money to come to me') or hand actions (whether or not they are aggressive, demanding etc.). Sometimes you've got to read between the lines, look into his/her eyes and decipher certain nuances that you might have missed previously. Body language tells a lot and is essential to this level of profiling. Right now, i'd probably have to clarify that although this might seem like im advocating overthinking, and overreading of situations and people, people profiling is crucial in helping us obtain a better personal stand during a particular interaction, in that we are able to make decisions quicker and more efficiently when the time calls for it. Of course, sometimes we do not want to make our decisions that fast or hastily - what i am asking of people would be for them to actively keep an assessment of people around them, so that when the time calls for it, they would be able to make that informed decision quicker.

The third and deepest level of people profiling (in my opinion), would be to find out, as how i would like to call it, the 'backstory' of people. This is a form of emotional profiling, not easily obtained during the first or even second occurance of interaction, and is a huge privilege whenever given access to it, and should not be taken lightly. What do i mean when i say 'backstory'? Well everyone has their story to tell - be it their family, job situation, relationship status, personal feelings. Not often would you tell a stranger about these stories, personal issues. But whenever we hear of it, best would be from the person himself/herself, we immediately get a better understanding of the person standing in front of us - the potential partner of interaction. In a sense, there is a delicate emotional trust forged whenever this happens. However, i would like to say that whenever we encounter an occurance of trust-relationship, we immediately have to tread carefully. This level of people profiling would have to go hand in hand with my 4th tool of interaction - sincerity. Without the heart of sincerity, sometimes we would end up misplacing trust, misusing stories...we would become 'interaction beasts' with personal information about other people.

Finding out someone's 'backstory' gives a certain degree of 'fairness' back to this approach of interaction. It asks for us to understand someone better, before placing a certain judgment or before making an informed decision about someone.

People profiling helps us make informed decisions when the time calls for them. It is a tool that we can use to help us better understand people around us, and also a tool that helps us interact with people better in general. While this tool seems rather high-handed, it also serves as a key to my 2nd and 3rd tool of social interaction - perception management and expectation management.

To be continued...


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