The Apothecary Diaries: How To Let Your Care Guide Your Smarts


Navigating social situations can be tricky and may leave you feeling anxious.

Maomao in the ancient imperial court knows exactly how it feels. She had to watch her tongue and speak with caution, or risk her head. Her intelligence and knowledge of herbalism were unparalleled, yet it would be unheeded if she didn’t speak with tact.

Maomao shows us that EQ is just as important as IQ. She was able to go above and beyond, and become a trusted individual in the palace. Here are three ways you can strengthen your social skills:




1. Practice active listening

Active listening requires a conscious effort to hear others out and also show them that they are being heard. During her employment at the palace, Maomao had to get to the bottom of many poisoning incidents. This required her to listen carefully, and understand her patients’ concerns as well as their condition.

Instead of being silent while they talk, try these strategies at appropriate pauses:

  • Reflect back and paraphrase what they’ve said. You can use phrases such as “What I’m hearing is… ,” and “Sounds like you are saying… ,”
  • Ask questions to clarify or encourage them to elaborate. Try using phrases like “What do you mean when you say… .” “Is this what you mean?”


2. Refrain from judgment

It can be easy to form our opinions about the person confiding in us, especially because they are being vulnerable. However, it’s counterproductive to voice our opinions that may be detrimental to the other person. Even when Maomao formed her opinions, she kept them to herself and worked on those that would be the most helpful to the situation. These judgements and opinions may form, but we can do our best to avoid hurting the other person.




3. Have empathy

Having empathy means that we’re able to understand and identify with others’ feelings. Maomao used her understanding of others’ emotions to discern aspects of her patients’ conditions that weren’t just physical. One of them had a weak will to live due to guilt, another displayed somnambulance because of grief.

Being empathetic takes work but it’s a skill we can learn. The fundamentals involve putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. While listening, aim to gain an understanding of their situation, point of view and emotions. If it’s helpful to the situation, you can also share a similar experience that you’ve had. This can lead to better rapport and the other person seeing that you truly understand what they are going through.


Want to grow your social skills and learn to be a better friend? Here are some other Shadee Care articles that can help:


Demon Slayer: Having Empathy Even When You Don’t Agree


Caring Conversations


Finding Out What’s Wrong


Helping a friend who is self-harming


Helping a friend with suicidal ideation 

If you have a friend who has suicidal thoughts, this is a medical emergency that needs immediate professional help. Please never believe that any body wants to end their life. Help this person get help immediately.

SOS helpline



Share this

What's Your Reaction?

Cute Cute
Like Like
Lol Lol
Love Love
Cool Cool
Hugs Hugs

Choose A Format
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format