After a year and a half of lockdowns, social distancing, and working from home, people are slowly returning to in-person meetings and conferences. While most are eager to get back to a normal way of life, many are understandably rusty when it comes to actual in-person interactions.
If you’re hesitant about sitting down at the conference room table, maybe you should sit down at the poker table first. Many of the same skills you learn playing poker can help you interact successfully with people in both social and business situations.
Here are six lessons you can learn from poker that can help ease you back into the real world.
Lesson 1: Poker teaches you to be fearless
Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary, and working from home is the ultimate comfort zone. There are many reasons you may be apprehensive about getting out of the house. In poker, you’re apprehensive about losing money. The only way to deal with these fears is to play the hand you’ve been dealt.
Take a look at what assets you are currently holding. Maybe you slayed an impressive project while working remotely and are feeling confident about your skills and what you have to offer. Or your favorite coworker who you haven’t seen in a long time is amping up your excitement to return to office (RTO). Those are both odds in your favor.
Although, if you’re still not feeling as confident as you’d like, you might just have to bluff. Weigh the odds, put your best poker face forward, and step outside your comfort zone. Fake it till you make it. Be fearless.
Lesson 2: Poker teaches you how to unlock your potential
Every new poker hand presents you with the potential to win big. What you do with that potential is up to you. You can bet on yourself, check to see what others are doing, raise the stakes, or fold.
Attending in-person events can be a great way to unlock pent-up potential, especially since interacting with people in person increases creativity and communication skills. Use this opportunity to brush up on the forgotten arts of eye contact, listening, and nonverbal communication.
While working remotely may have increased your technology and time-management skills, you still need occasional in-person socialization to truly thrive in your business and personal life.
Lesson 3: Poker teaches you to be perceptive
In-person meetings and events give you the opportunity to observe other human beings in all four-dimensions. Chances are, they’re facing a lot of the same fears and uncertainties about being back in public.
Pay attention to people’s body language as well as your own. Who is communicating “six-feet back?” Who’s comfortable shaking hands? Who’s wearing a mask? Being perceptive and responding accordingly shows that you care about and respect others, a trait that has become increasingly rare in our current society.
Whenever you have the chance to have a genuine connection, take it! Your rank as a team player and overall decent human is guaranteed to increase.
Lesson 4: Poker teaches you to be influential
We are constantly influencing others with our behaviors. Yes, as much as we probably hate the word, we are all “influencers.” What we wear, what we talk about, who we hang out with, the books we read, and the shows we watch say a lot about us and our values.
At the poker table, a player’s behavior and mannerisms can determine the outcome of the game. You may have an awful hand to start, but the way you react, the way you bid, and the tone of your voice can influence other players to fold because they think you have the winning hand.
All of this translates into how you behave in person. Projecting confidence when you’re nervous or unsure of yourself can influence other team members to do the same. This is an incredibly useful asset if you’re a manager and need to motivate other employees.
Lesson 5: Poker teaches you emotional control
This is an important lesson for women. We are often seen as being “too emotional” in the workplace. That’s usually the criticism thrown at women for having any reaction whatsoever, but there are definitely times when our emotions can get the best of us.
Poker is a game of skill, but it is also a game of intuition. Intuition is based on a gut feeling. However, that feeling is sometimes influenced by something that’s not actually true. We all know how having a bad day can lead us down a path of poor decision making.
Relying too much on feelings as opposed to analytics and critical thinking at the poker table will cause you to lose. Same goes for attending in-person events. You may not feel like getting dressed and driving to the office or a seminar, but if you think about it analytically, that face time with your boss or the information you learn there could result in a fast promotion. Lead with the facts, analyze your hand, and keep your emotions in check.
Lesson 6: Poker teaches you to be resilient
As if you haven’t learned resilience from the COVID-19 pandemic itself, poker can take you to a whole new level.
Even the best poker players in the world lose at times. It’s just part of the game. To become a great player, you have to be willing to fail. But with each new hand comes a lesson that teaches you how to get better at the game.
Same goes in life. You may feel and act awkward the first time you’re around your co-workers again. You may mess up a presentation, lose a sale, or feel like you made a fool of yourself. But you know what? You got out there. You took a step towards normalcy. You may have fallen flat on your face, but you got up. You stayed at the table. And you’ve been dealt a new hand. Now you’re ready to go all in.
Coming out of your COVID-19- lockdown shell might not be easy, but if you take these lessons from the poker table and apply them in real life, you’ll gain the confidence and resiliency needed to move forward.
If you’re ready to take back your seat at the table, we’ll show you how to take it with confidence with the power of poker. Learn how to play poker with Poker Power.