Let's Get Sociable

Bob Goldman on

"Hyper-social mammals."

That's how professor Dacher Keltner describes human beings.

While Keltner might feel differently if he spent time with people from your company's IT department, it won't be easy to bring the mammals together again in the zoo that is your office.

Which brings us to "Need to Dust Off Your Social Skills?" This recent Bonnie Tsui column in The New York Times reports on ways to relearn the social skills that made it possible for everyone to get along, long before you ducked out of the office for a few moments and didn't come back for a year.

If an outgoing mammal like you is dusty, the social skills of the people with whom you work are buried in debris. Yet, you must all work together, a situation that another professor, Debra Kaysen, describes as "disorienting, surreal and difficult." (Clearly, Kaysen has met people from your IT department, as well as your disorienting, surreal and difficult HR staff.)

According to Tsui's article, the best approach is to "give yourself permission to set small, achievable goals." Can't give yourself permission? I'll do it for you. Here are six teeny, tiny goals that Keltner recommends tackling:


No. 1: "Share food with someone."

While eating alone is lonely, it does protect you from co-workers who eat with their mouths open and their wallets closed. If you've forgotten the valuable social skill of avoiding the check at the end of a business lunch, put your year in isolation to use.

"Sorry, got to run!" you shout as the waiter approaches with the check. "I can't take all this socializing!"

By the time your co-workers divvy up the check, you'll be long gone. This should save you -- and your budget.


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