Playing Well with Others

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

Children playing gameAre you a person who has trouble playing well with others?  Or, perhaps you know someone like that.  Getting along with other humans is a talent gained from part nature and part nurture.

It almost doesn’t matter what you say or convey to others.  If done in the right way, almost anything is acceptable.  For example, if someone is wearing clothing that you think looks terrible, you can say, “You look awful in that dress,” or you can say, “I think red looks so much better on you than blue.”  If someone is doing something you don’t think is correct, you can say, “Don’t do that!” or you can say, “I don’t think they want us doing that.”

If you’re not a natural at warm-cozy techniques of communication and are tired of people drawing away from you or completely ostracizing you, consider practicing some basic requirements.  Here’s a list of “musts” that I came up with.  Perhaps you can add a few of your own.

  1. It’s not all about you. Don’t spend the interaction talking only about your stuff or sucking the focus onto yourself whenever possible.
  2. Show interest in the others present. Everyone wants a chance to be the center of attention for a while.  Aid in that goal by asking questions of them, and really listen to their answers.  You show that you’re listening by maintaining consistent eye contact and asking meaningful, follow-up questions.
  3. Check your attitude. Don’t come across as irritated, impatient, hostile, pissy, etc. People don’t like that and will begin to avoid you.
  4. Don’t be the resident expert-in-everything even if you are. It gets old very fast.  As my father used to say, “Nobody likes a smart ass.”
  5. Be gracious. Say things like “thank you” or “that was really interesting” or “nice to see you again,” etc.  People love compliments and acknowledgement.
  6. Be aware of the tone and volume of your voice. Dial both down a notch or ten.  Practice exchanging verbal coldness for warmth.  Record yourself and listen to how you come across when you speak.
  7. Body language speaks volumes. Chill out and relax.
  8. Facial expressions are huge. Everyone is always reading people by the expressions on their faces.  Do yours come across as: sourpuss, angry, negative, critical, bored, or disinterested?  If so, practice in front of a mirror making facial expressions which are positive, accepting, warm, upbeat, supportive, interested, etc.  Experience how your face muscles feel with those positive expressions and repeat them in public.

If you can’t figure out how to put into practice some of the aforementioned suggestions, study others who seem to do so effortlessly.  Then, wiggle into your actor robes and perform, using them as role models.  It may seem strange at first, but you’ll get used to it. Remember, the content is far less important than the delivery.


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Photo credit: Wootang01 via /  CC BY-ND


Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

4 responses to “Playing Well with Others

  1. Thanks,LGG, something for me to work on.

  2. Hey Rog, no matter how old we are, we’re always a work in progress. I may write a blog about that:-)

  3. great advice/reminders 🙂

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