STEP TWO: Have in mind some desired way of interacting--
probably a more effective or smoother approach--with a
specific person in a specific situation.
Ordinarily, you know what outcome you want to achieve, e.g. to
get a date or a promotion, to be funny and fun to be around, to sound
as though you have a brain and so on. What you don't know is how to
pull it off. So, you need to figure out exactly what to say and do that
will be intelligent, smooth, clever, appealing, persuasive or whatever.
There are several ways of acquiring ideas about how to approach a
One of the best ways is observing a successful, skillful person.
Carefully note what he/she does, such as phrasing, body
language, tone of voice, timing and so on. Modify what he/she
does to fit your own style.
Ask an "expert" to teach you. He/she can demonstrate what
he/she does, explain the rationale, warn you of pitfalls, suggest
modifications depending on the circumstances, help you
develop your own approach, and so on.
Read how others have handled similar situations. Characters in
novels are clever--learn from them. Watch successful persons
on TV and in the movies. Throughout this chapter are
references to many books about improving communications,
they provide many ideas about how to handle a wide variety of
situations. Highly useful skills in many social situations are
empathy responding (method # 2), "I" statements (method
#4), assertiveness (method #3), and self-disclosure (method
It isn't necessary to have access to an expert or a book. In fact,
one of the best ideas is to work with someone who also wants
to improve in the same ways you do. Mutual helpers are more
likely to be comfortable together, to devote the necessary time,
and to be honest with each other. You don't have to be an
expert to tell someone how he/she is coming across. One can
even learn from bad examples.
You can do this step all alone, just by imagining what a skillful
person would say and do. Be sure to think of several
approaches, not just one clever comment. Think about how
each approach should be modified, depending on the
circumstances and what the other person says. Write down
STEP THREE: Practice handling the specific problem situation.
Get feedback. Practice until confident.
Make the role-play situation as similar to the real situation as
possible. Examples: Wear clothes similar to what you would be
wearing in real life, talk into a telephone if you will be calling someone,
practice in an environment similar to the real one. Tell the friend who
is helping you what role to play, i.e. what kind of person you will be
interacting with in the "problem situation." Your partner (helper)