Marlin M. Soliman
With the technology in this day and age being based on social media, we sometimes forget to practise socializing in the real world –some of us don’t even know how. Marlin M. Soliman is an expert in communication skills and emotional intelligence, helping people of all ages lead healthy social lives and overcome their anxieties. We got to speak to the intelligent expert, and she’s given us a peek inside her social-science world.
By: Mayar El-Shamy
Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I’m a people person who’s fascinated with human behavior and the art of communication and emotional intelligence. I’ve studied French literature and Mass Communication in the USA, returned to Egypt, and worked in the media & production world for more than 12 years, before working in the Communication and Public Relations field. Currently, I’m teaching Communications Skills and Emotional Intelligence courses. I find a great pleasure in empowering people to achieve their full potential in order to lead happier, and more fulfilling lives. After all, I believe that 90% of our problems could be solved if we master communication skills and develop our emotional intelligence.
How did you first get into the science of communication?
In the early 90’s, when I traveled to study in the USA. Back then, there was no satellite; internet and computer access were very limited. I was 16 years old and totally on my own with my broken English, so I had to depend on observing body languages, facial expressions, eye contact, and the tone of voice of people speaking to me in order to manage daily communication.
When I returned to Egypt and studied Executive Management at AUC “Communication and Emotional Intelligence” was a big chunk of it. Furthermore, all throughout my life I’ve had people approaching me asking about how to network, or how to have good relationships, the best way to communicate a certain massage…etc. I’ve always got “You are so easy to talk to” and “ you light up in social gatherings” comments, which made me think “why is it so easy to me and not to them?” all these incidents helped me to see the importance of good communication.
You have handled superstars including Hend Sabry and Yasmin Raeis. Tell us about your experience as a celebrity manager.
I’ve also handled other stars like Nahed El Sebai, Marwan Hamed, Hadi Elbagouri, and Mohamed Hefzy. I’ll always be very grateful for this adventure in my life. I had a lot of fun, I traveled with celebrities, attended movie festivals, organized photo-shoots, met so many people and made lots of friendships, but I must say it was very hectic and stressful. It was a very challenging experience but also very rewarding and enriching. The big challenge was to gain their trust and to prove my reliability, which usually happens when you prove your full dedication, sincerity, and good intentions. People may think that celebrities are different from “us”, when in fact they are also regular human beings They are looking for someone to contain and understand them. And of course someone who’s emotionally intelligent enough not to push the wrong buttons. So by understanding each client’s mentality and personality, I was able to find “the entry”, gain their trust and build some bridges through which we communicated and had a good relationship. For example, to some celebrities appreciating the “human being” in them more than the “celebrity” was a major key.
I really enjoyed that part of my life, and cherish the friendships that I gained through this job.
What is your proudest achievement?
On the professional level, my proudest achievement is taking a leap of faith, resigning from “employment life” and starting to pursue my passion conducting courses/ workshops about communication skills and emotional intelligence. On the personal level, my proudest achievement is impacting other people’s lives positively. Seeing people (especially women) reconciling with themselves and the world around them, changing their lives, and fulfilling their dreams is absolutely priceless. And then they start doing the same with others… it is a beautiful chain that I’ll always be proud of.
Does knowing so much about emotional intelligence make it difficult to trust anyone?
Emotional intelligence is not something that you “know about”, it’s awareness that you develop and you actually practice. It doesn’t make it difficult to trust people, on the contrary, it will help you understand yourself and others so that you could select the right people to trust. And helps you to draw boundaries with less trustworthy people.
What kind of everyday challenges do you have to face in your field?
My ongoing struggle is the very poor awareness that we have in Egypt regarding communication skills and emotional intelligence. People often underestimate its importance and impact in our daily interactions. I’m having a hard time raising awareness on how by putting a little effort in our ways of communications could save us a lot of trouble every single day. People don’t realize the enormous change that could happen in their professional and personal lives if they learn these skills. They don’t understand why they need to take a communication course. It’s so funny that everybody is suffering and complaining from the mistreatments they receive or the continuous arguing and miss-understandings, but yet they are unable to recognize the root of the problem.
How can you help those with social anxiety?
First, we need to understand that most of the time our negative feelings (ex. Anxiety, fear, low self-esteem…etc) are rooted in our brains due to a wrong self-image. Secondly, building good relationships with other people can greatly reduce stress and anxiety in our life. In fact, improving our social support is linked to better mental health in general. Fighting social anxiety has to start from the inside first. It’s about self-awareness. We need to be aware of our emotions, and thoughts in order to be able manage and control them. And this concludes the basics of Emotional Intelligence. Social anxiety is most likely caused by low self-confidence. The best way to defeat your fear is to face it. When I get anxious about anything I always ask myself “what is the worst that could possibly happen?” Then I keep analyzing the answer and usually I come to the conclusion of “So what? Not the end of the world”
Unfortunately, one of the consequences of avoiding social situations is that you never have the opportunity to build up your confidence interacting with others, and develop strong communication skills that would increase the chance for successful relationships. Practice will increase your confidence and improve your communication skills. So my advice is to be willing to try and learn by practicing.
To summarize: Self-awareness, Self-confidence, and practice
What are the downsides of working in such a field?
The downside is the big responsibility I feel towards every student I come in contact with. I feel that IT IS MY JOB to empower people to achieve their full potential in order to lead happier, and more fulfilling lives. Sometimes the individuals themselves have a very limited vision; they don’t want to help their own selves and at this point I can’t help them. Such situation makes me feel so helpless and disappointed with myself that I was not able to impact this person’s life in a positive way even if it was due to his/her choice.
What goals do you still plan to achieve?
My main goal is to keep empowering everyone I come in contact with. And keep spreading awareness about this topic wherever I go, but especially here in Egypt. I would love to see our streets full of people with better communication skills. I hope to see communication skills and emotional intelligence being included in schools’ curriculums in this country. And my biggest dream is to open a school/ academy teaching only communication skills and emotional intelligence.
Any advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
A good communicator is likely to have better opportunities and succeed in their lives more than highly educated people with no communication skills. Be flexible to try anything at least once. Travel when you can and observe human interaction in different nations and cultures. Meditate every day and do a lot of soul searching and reflect on your own actions. Encourage. Never judge. Be real. And keep smiling.
A word for our readers…
If you feel that your life is being wasted in nonsensical arguments and in miss-understandings that drains your energy, then I highly recommend you work on improving your communication skills. Learning about communication skills and emotional intelligence is a life changing experience. It will enormously affect all aspects of your life increase your potentials. Understanding yourself and others and being able to communicate effectively is the key to success.