Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What You Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part III

Which are the critical life skills one really needs to learn to be able to live a successful and meaningful life?

Photo credit: College female student by Shutterstock

Trying to answer this question has been the key driver of this multi-part guide designed to question our conservative assumption about what schooling should really be about and to explore the skills that, if mastered early in life, could truly make a big difference in how we could live it thereafter.

In Part III of this guide to what you really need to learn to be successful in life, I have moved on to explore those that I would label "social" critical skills.

These are vital skills needed to interact, collaborate, help and get things done together with other human beings.

I have decided to include only five skills/sections inside this and the next upcoming Parts of this guide, as in the two preceding ones Part I - Part II I realized that I do prefer to go more for quality than for quantity, and prefer therefore to limit the number of skills I cover in each part so that I can curate them better by devoting to them more attention and time.

In this Part III, I have included the following new life critical skills:

21. How to Recognize Negative People

22. How to Collaborate / Cooperate

23. How to Share

24. How to Be Social

25. How To Listen

Here all the details:

21) How to Recognize Negative People



"the ability to rapidly identify individuals that have a high potential of negatively influencing you and your life."

Source: Robin Good

"knowing how to recognize and stay clear of troublesome people."

Source: Robin Good


Negative people are the most destructive, negative force you can find during the course of your lifetime.

Living or being physically nearby negative people can be a very destructive experience that can permanently limit your abilities to think clearly, to be motivated, to be calm and rational and even to recover from physical illnesses.

Negative people do not present themselves with the typical traits of a destructive or negative person but instead they are very skilled in appearing as people who appear to love who you are, what you do and who apparently want to be close to you in your journey toward success.

In reality these people share very little affinity and intellectual abilities with you and are there only to lure you into accepting them into your close circle of friends, so that they can do even more damage to you.

Negative people most typical tactics are to slowly and unsuspectedly bring in confusion, false alarms, as well as to discredit you and other good people in public, to slow down good, beneficial initiatives, to dump down new promising projects and to systematically break good communications by introducing conflicting, misleading or irrelevant stuff. The greatest skill they have is that they can do all of this without ever appearing as being your enemies.


To identify negative people from which you should steer away instantly, is not too difficult.

Here a few simple rules I have learned in my life that have helped me greatly in avoiding negative, destructive people. Here's what I suggest you to keep under check:

  1. Their response reaction time. Do they reply promptly to your questions or are there long silences or pauses before they answer back?
  2. Whether they go straight to the point, or they start running in circles around it, while often taking side tracks and de-tours from the topic at hand.
  3. Their ability to be precise and to respect appointments, agreements, and the like without coming up with last minute surprises and justifications.
  4. How much they are complaining, lamenting and talking negatively about other things vs. how much they spend talking about desirable, positive and admirable things.
  5. Their responsibility awareness level. Are they taking responsibility for the situation around them and for the negative aspects of it, or are they always blaming external factors and circumstances?
  6. When they get into an accident who do they blame? Do they take responsibility for their action or they blame always some external force? Do they play constantly the victim game or do they take responsibility for what happens to them?
  7. What have they built? Created? Brought to conclusion with success? What are the great things they have done so far in their lives?
  8. What do they really know about you and about your ethics, goals and mission? Are they curious to discover them or does it appear as if they had always known them?
  9. How much do they encourage and support your efforts, good work and achievements? Do they understand what you are really doing? How do they contribute to help you succeed?
  10. Can they have a deep and open intellectual discourse with you or are they are at much higher ease in talking about light issues, gossiping and generalizing what happens around them?

Suggested Reading:


Book: Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try to Control You by Patricia Evans, 2003

22. How to Collaborate / Cooperate



"Working together to create value while sharing virtual and physical space."

Source: Evan Rosen

"Working together while seeking a common goal."

Source: Robin Good

"Collaboration: an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action."

Source: Dictionary Reference

"Cooperation: To work or act together toward a common end or purpose."

Source: The FreeDictionary

"Cooperation: Voluntary arrangement in which two or more entities engage in a mutually beneficial exchange instead of competing."

Source: Business Dictionary


"The word 'collaborate' is derived from the Latin collaborare - to labour together. It means 'to co-operate; esp. in literary, artistic, or scientific work' (Onions, 1973). A collaborator is one who works in conjunction with another or others."

Source: Why Should Students Collaborate? by Peter Skillen, January 2011 - Cooperative Catalyst

Collaboration helps individuals achieve goals that would be otherwise much more difficult to obtain or even to dream of as it provides the opportunity to pull and mesh together multiple skills, experiences and intellectual abilities coming from the diverse individuals collaborating together.

As learning really flourishes when there is an abundance of diversity of viewpoints and data, so collaboration opportunities and potential rest in the diversity of opinions and ideas that a diversified group of individuals working together can create.

Collaborating with others is an opportunity to realize goals that would be otherwise very difficult if not impossible to achieve by acting individually.

By collaborating with others one has the opportunity to access a greater set of skills, experiences, resources and ideas available than if working all by oneself. It is also much easier to confront and compare different viewpoints, to question and verify the solidity of each and to mix and mashup valuable solutions and ideas.

One of the greater obstacles to good collaboration is any limit or imposed obstacle that handicaps the ease with which people collaborating can exchange ideas, information and viewpoints effortlessly.

Another potential barrier to effective collaboration are concerns that individuals within a group may have about the ownership of authorship of the results they produce by working together. The clearer it is made how contributions to a collaborative project will be credited and rewarded , the easier it will be to obtain other people contributions to it.


To collaborate effectively with others you needs to become rapidly an "active member" of the group you want to be part of.

To do so you need to take an active stance to fully understand the group key reason d'etre and its main goals. Only by doing this you can effectively contribute and help the group achieve its goal(s).

"Being an active member means that you not only participate in conversations, meetings and interactions passively, but that you actively contribute to group discussions, decisions and practical work.

In other words, your key goal to collaborate effectively should be the one of creating and sharing new materials that add extra value to those already shared by those collaborating with you."

Source: Comment by José Ballarin to Collaboration What Does It Really Mean? by Carlos Dominguez, 2011 - Cisco Blogs

To make your collaboration effective it is also very important that you:

  • establish clear goals and objectives for the group to reach
  • define roles, responsibilities and policies to execute collaborative work before starting
  • do not hold on to, keep secret or hide any relevant information
  • share in a systematic and organized way as not to interrupt or become an hindrance for others
  • ask and understand rules of the group before taking decisions that may disrupt it
  • be very respectful of the other group members, and of their opinions, suggestions and contributions

Suggested Reading / Videos:

Video: The New Power of Collaboration by Howard Rheingold, 2005 - TED

Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action -- and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group.

Duration: 19':34"

Tools & Resources:

23. How to Share



"Use, occupy, or enjoy (something) jointly with another or others."

Source: Google

"the joint use of a resource or space."

"giving something as an outright gift.."

"Sharing disjoints the connection between usage and ownership of a product.."

Source: Wikipedia


Why to share is important:

a) Sharing physical things and resources allows to make a more efficient use of them while increasing other people well being.

b) Sharing information and knowledge allows us to communicate, to be informed and to learn from each other in an ongoing iterative process. Sharing information is a critical factor in helping an organization or community evolve, rapidly adapt and become more efficient at surviving and at overcoming new unforeseen obstacles.

c) As David Gurteen suggests

"To get most things done in an organisation today requires a collaborative effort. If you try to work alone - you are likely to fail - you need not only the input from other people but their support and buy-in. Being open with them; sharing with them, helps you achieve your objectives."

Source: Creating a Knowledge Sharing Culture by David Gurteen, February 1999 - Gurteen

d) Sharing, is also essential to foster collaboration and trust among groups of people or organizations working together.

e) Sharing is vital to the learning process.

"one of the most profound key accelerators for one's learning is that one of sharing your knowledge out there, in the open, and the more, the better, allowing others to benefit from it, contrasting it, challenging it, reframing it...

...knowledge sharing is innate to our human nature of wanting to connect and collaborate with others. We, human beings, are social beings, and as such have been bound to share what we know with others, so that our learning curve never becomes flat. On the contrary."

Source: Why Do I Share My Knowledge? by Luis Suarez, May 2014 - Elsua

f) Sharing and collaboration have given shape to free technologies and open-source software tools that are used by tens of millions of people today. (i.e.: Wikipedia, Apache server software, Linux operating system).

g) By sharing the things you know with others, you benefit initially by the mental effort you need to make in order to organize, sort through, and be able to introduce and explain to others the specifics of what you are sharing. This simple act of reviewing and writing down what you want to share gives greater clarity to your idea and helps you shape it and improve it.

h) When you share with others you also benefit and learn from the feedback, comments, criticism and ideas that will come from those with whom you have decided to share your work or ideas with

i) And when it comes to sharing it is not just "big ideas" and important data that we should be addressing. Little details, how we do certain things, which tools or procedures we use, can be as useful and life-transforming for others as it has been for you. Sharing tips, little details and simple things that can significantly improve how to get things done
is very valuable.

To those objecting to sharing for fear of others stealing their ideas, these are generally people who have not successfully created anything before and therefore who have not yet realized what a distance there is between an idea and its effective execution, and who have not witnessed how beneficial it can be to share ideas about a project early in the development or planning stages to get alternative viewpoints, feedback ideas and criticism that can save an entrepreneur, writer or artist, months of useless work.

Today, the greatest obstacles to effective sharing are represented by organizational policies and technology choices limiting most collaborative and sharing efforts by handicapping them at their roots as well as intellectual property and copyright laws.

"One sure way [to handicap sharing initiatives] is to create a situation where in order for one person to succeed the other has to lose."

Source: The Incentive Question or Why People Share Knowledge by Nancy Dixon, March 2009 - Conversation Matters

 Robin Good -
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posted by Viviana Brun on Tuesday, May 13 2014, updated on Saturday, June 14 2014

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