Interpersonal & Helping Skills

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Interpersonal & Helping Skills

Interpersonal and Helping Skills

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I feel that no matter what paths we take or professions we choose, the greatest lasting impact that we can make is to help each other. In the spirit of that endeavor, this area of the website is dedicated to the refinement of interpersonal and helping skills.

Eventually this area will be filled with rich content about topics such as body language, communication, public speaking, and helping skills to foster more effective human relations.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 05:37

The Body Language of Helping

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Have you ever been in a situation where someone said one thing but their body said something else? Sometimes when we want to help others we end up visually communicating that we actually don't (sometimes because of inner stress or insecurities). This can make those that we're trying to help feel uncomfortable and less open to receiving the help that we can provide.

To ensure that your body language is helpful you'll want to take an attentive stance. Keep your body open. Do not cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets. If you are standing let your hands hang slightly at your sides with your hands open and slightly turned as if to say, "I'm ready to help". Lean forward slightly (about 10% if standing or 45% if sitting). 

Square or face your body to or with the person or people you are communicating with. If you at an angle to those that you want to help it often communicates that you don't really want to help them. 

Maintaining eye contact is absolutley essential. When you maintain eye contact it says that the person or persons that are in front of you are importaint and you care about what they have to say.

Body language is a complex topic. Putting these suggestions into practice is an easy way to start taking control of what your body is saying while helping others.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 December 2008 01:51

How to make your voice mellow or bright

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Singers on Broadway often have a bright tone when singing and opera singers often have a mellow tone when singing. A clear, loud, and bright voice can attract attention. It can also be perceived as child like. A mellow tone is often more influential and sounds more mature. 

One way that you can make your voice brighter is to raise your cheekbones. If you want a more mellow tone relax and do not raise your cheeks or cheekbones. Here's an exercise that you can try to help you make your voice more mellow. Relax your cheeks and place your hands over them then read a few poems out loud. Try to enunciate clearly while also relaxing your cheeks, keeping your hands over them.

Now you can practice using different variations of bright or mellow tone to help illustrate inteded meaning, command attention, and to be more persuasive.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2008 19:14

Preparing Your Voice

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The sound of your voice often has has a greater impact on what you are saying to others than the actual words you are using to say it. Think about the nursery rhyme, "Three Blind Mice". This is not a very happy or fun nursery rhyme in my opinion.

"Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife
She cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a thing in your life
As three blind mice."

Thinking about the words, I just can't imagine why anyone would want to say or sing this to children. However I'm sure that many of us have heard and even sung this as children and never thought about the words at all. Here it's really the tone and rhythm of the nursery rhyme that we usually respond to, not the content. 

Have you ever come up with a great idea at a meeting and no one thought anything of it, then later someone else voiced exactly the same idea and everyone thought it was it was the greatest thing since sliced bread? It's a frustrating experience. Obviously people were not paying attention to the content of what you were saying, but rather the way that it was presented.

Even though your singing voice and your speaking voice are different, training your singing voice can give you greater control of your speaking voice. There are lots of muscle groups involved in using your voice and effecting its tone. Many meditation methods also exercise the muscle groups that control the way that air is shaped in your body, also giving you greater control of your speaking voice.

Here are three simple exercises to help get you started working on preparing your voice: 

  1. Lay on the floor and put a book on your stomach. Lift the book as high as you can using using only the air that you are breathing in. Do not use your abdominal muscles to push the book up! Hold the book up for a few seconds and then release it. This exercise works with the main muscle that brings oxygen into your lungs called your diaphragm. 
  2. Jog or run in place until your body naturally pushes out your rib cage. The muscles that push out your rib cage are called your coastal muscles. Many people are not used to manually controlling these muscles, but they play a vital role in shaping your voice. Concentrate on pushing your rib cage out using your coastal muscles without having to run in place. Once you've got the hang of it, then inhale and push your ribs out. Exhale but leave your ribs extended for a couple of seconds then drop them. Do this about ten times.
  3. Your jaw muscles or pterygoids are important for shaping your speaking tone. Stretching them will allow you to have greater control of them. Drop your jaw without opening your mouth and stretch as far as you comfortably can. This stretching exercise takes daily and repeated use to become effective.
After you have developed your diaphragm, coastal muscles, and your pterygoids you can then use these to shape your speaking voice.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2008 18:32

A mirror will lie to you about the way your gestures look

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When you practice for a presentation it's a good idea to do it in front of a mirror. Just be careful because a mirror may not show you the whole picture. If you've ever looked at writing in a mirror, say on a shirt for instance, then you know that a mirror shows you images (and letters) in reverse. That's why when you practice gestures and do something like point to the right in a mirror, your image will point to your right. The problem is that you'll probably want to point to your audiences right and that would be your left.

I just recently realized this when watching this video. Notice when the speaker says to start with your right hand and then think about why this is and how those particular gestures would look to your audience (not your mirror).



Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2008 02:52


Do you discriminate against others based on their natural unalterable traits (looks, voice, etc.)?