We advocate hiring for attitude and training for skill, right?

Where do you think that attitude comes from? If attitude is defined as: a manner of thinking, feeling, or behaving that reflects a state of mind or disposition (according to The Free Dictionary), I suppose we need to change the thinking to be: hire for people skills and train for technical skills… or hire for soft skills and train for hard skills.

Where do people, or soft, skills come from? Who taught us to treat others with kindness and respect? Who taught us to be/think positive? Are those learned or innate? I’m split. I think some of it is in our DNA, while some of it is learned. How did your parents treat each other? Did you observe how they treated others? Somewhere in our young lives, we learned how to interact with others.

Along comes a new book by Kirt Manecke written specifically for teens, teaching them that good people skills are critical to getting a job and to having a successful career. I wrote about another of Kirt’s books a couple years ago: Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service. That one is for the adult in us, but the one I’m writing about today – Smile & Succeed for Teens – is for our kids. And for the kid in us.

My 13 year old enjoyed it. If you have (or have had) teenagers, you know they have the attention span of a gnat. This book is written in a quick and easy format that can be read in order, out of order, over the course of months, or all at once. It’s a quick read but an important one.

Similar to his first book, in this book, Kirt outlines the Top 10 People Skills. He explains each one, outlines how to deliver that skill, and provides some examples and scenarios that help teens relate. The 10 Skills are…

1. Smile. A smile can create a friend or a customer. It’s one of your most important people skills. When you first meet someone, greet them with a smile.
2. Make Good Eye Contact. Eye contact is a great way to make a positive first impression. It conveys respect, confidence, competence, honesty, and interest.
3. Turn Off The Electronics. If you’re engrossed in your electronics, you’re not focused on the people around you. Simple as that.
4. Say Please And Thank You. Needs no explanation!
5. Shake Hands Firmly. A firm handshake also creates a good first impression. We often form immediate and lasting opinions of the person with which we are shaking hands.
6. Introduce Yourself: Make A Friend. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation with a person you’d like to get to know.
7. Pay Attention. Listen. Build trust and show you care. Make eye contact. Focus on what’s being said. Engage in a conversation.
8. Be Enthusiastic. It’s contagious. It shows that you’re interested and passionate. Enthusiastic people are energizing and engaging.
9. Ask Questions. Asking questions makes for a good conversation.
10. Practice Proper Body Language. Body language says more than you think. Many of the other skills mentioned here fall under body language: smile, make good eye contact, pay attention, stand up straight.

After explaining the 10 Skills, Kirt outlines ways that teens can use them to succeed in school, at work, and in life, and then goes on to explain other skills, including those that relate best to selling, delivering a great customer experience, volunteering, and being a rock star who changes the world!

Honestly, I don’t think it’s too early to teach these skills and scenarios to our kids.

A smile is the curve that sets everything straight. – Phyllis Diller