Thursday, November 29, 2012

". . . To the beat of a different drummer"

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
At the website Yahoo!Answers, an unknown respondent wrote the following in response to this prompt: “Henry David Thoreau said.....march to the beat of a different drummer....?”  “In the conclusion to 'Walden,' Thoreau writes, "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away." He meant,” said this respondent, “that one should do things in one's own way regardless of societal norms and expectations.”
There is no doubt that society encourages (forces?) conformity, so the question, “How do you march to the beat of a different drummer?” is a legitimate one.  Or, to state it a bit differently, “How can you make yourself stand out?”  The essential bottom line has to do with social skills, and there are many things you can do.
There are two underlying characteristics that will lubricate the social skills I will discuss in this essay.  The first, is confidence.  Confidence, alone, will convince others of your credibility and worth.  What you need to do is reveal the characteristics that demonstrate confidence:  When you act independently, assume responsibility, take pride in your abilities, deal maturely and intelligently with your emotions, willingly accept new challenges, and handle problems effectively and efficiently, you convey confidence.
The second underlying characteristic that will lubricate your social skills is a sense of humor.  How do you develop a sense of humor?  First, observe others who are funny, and mimic their behavior.  Start laughing when other people laugh.  Make this a  habit.  Natural laughing will follow, and it will become automatic when funny things take place.  Also, see the funny side of things even if they are difficult or embarrassing.  Injecting lightheartedness into situations filled with angst, fear, and unhappiness, if done in good taste and without stepping over the line where mourning, death, loss, and pain are involved, is often appreciated and a valuable commodity..
Now, what are the social skills for which both confidence and a sense of humor are catalysts?  The following ideas were listed on WikiHow where a number of authors have weighed in and offered suggestions for “How to make your personality stand out.”  The first is, “don't be loud.  Other people find noisy people to be obnoxious and annoying. We don't want that, do we?”    The second suggestion is, “know when it is right to argue with someone. Learn to accept that others may be right and you may be wrong. Nobody likes to be around someone constantly pointing out that they are right.”
There are four other suggestions for making your personality stand out.  Third, “know when to speak up. Defend friends in tough situations.”  Fourth, “don't be afraid to talk to others. Always look people in the eye when you're talking with them. It makes you appear more confident. Nobody wants to talk to someone who can't stop staring at their feet. Remember to stand up tall. Never slouch.”
I have skipped their fifth suggestion, “having a sense of humor” since I use that as an element that can positively affect all of these suggestions.
Their fifth suggestion, then, I have re-written so it makes better sense.  It is the importance of your personality.  Revealing your personality “doesn't mean that you should have [good] looks.”  It means letting others know who you really are.  The confidence referred to above must show in your eyes, voice, and it must be reflected to others.
Sixth, “don't be afraid to be different. People will admire you for your unique personality.”  If you hold ideas or opinions that are different from others, express them with conviction.  If you have knowledge and experiences that are unique, work them into conversations and discussions.  If you have hobbies, read sources, know people, or do things that vary from the norm, be certain that others become aware of them.
The seventh and final social skill they mention could, too, be listed as an overriding element that affects all the others.  It is, “be kind and considerate. People who truly practice these virtues to everyone they meet can be true to themselves and still stand out.”
I would add several more social skills to their list.  The first would be to keep an open mind.  Do not automatically stonewall or block out people who hold contrary views to your own, rather, look at them as an opportunity to learn new things.  Every person who touches you in some way can offer something positive to your knowledge, background, and experiences.  They have the potential of expanding your horizons and opening your mind even further.  Allow these possibilities; encourage these opportunities; invite these situations.
The second social skill that I would add to theirs is to become a more effective listener.  At the essay there, “10 Ways to Improve Your Personality,” lists being a better listener as their first item for improving your personality.  You can make a better impression through effective listening to others than by asserting yourself or injecting yourself into conversations.  Look others in the eyes, hang on their every word, and make them feel important.  “There is nothing more appealing than having someone listen to you intently making you feel like you're the only person in the world.”
 At “”10 Ways to Improve Your Personality,” a second item not yet mentioned in this essay, and one I feel is essential, is their seventh item: “Have a positive outlook and attitude.

Who wants to be around people who are negative, complain a lot, or have nothing good to say? In fact, most of us run when we see them coming. Instead, be the kind of upbeat person who lights up a room with your energy when you enter it. Do it by looking for the best in people and things. Smile warmly, spread good cheer, and enliven others with your presence.”
Some of the items discussed in this essay may require giant leaps, and to accomplish and develop these skills requires baby steps.  Begin in small ways, and you are likely to make large gains.  Be patient with yourself, however, as you grow and change in positive ways.   Thoreau had it right.  To march to the beat of a different drummer, Thoreau said, “Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away."
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At Essential Life Skills.Net (referred to in the essay above), the suggestions include a number of additional items in the essay, “10 Ways To Improve Your Personality” to what have been mentioned in my essay.

At the website Knowear the essay, “Building an Attractive Personality” (August 9, 2008), offers a number of additional suggestions and ideas in a rather long, but interesting, essay.
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Copyright November, 2012, by And Then Some LLC


1 comment:

  1. Sometimes the best way to march to the beat of a different drummer is to find a different band!


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