Making friends of your people

By Ted Pollock

No manager is paid for being liked, but the unassailable fact is that people will work harder and more cheerfully for a manager they like than for one they dislike. That being so, it makes sense to take steps to be a likable human being. If you want your people to be favorably disposed toward you:

Recognize the dignity of others. Frequently, this boils down to the simple realization that others have much the same desires and needs as you, especially for an appreciation of their worth as human beings. Rank on the economic, social or educational ladders has nothing to do with it. In many ways, a shipping clerk is every bit as important as the president of his firm. Since respect has a way of becoming mutual, you will find that an honest appreciation of others will result in an honest appreciation of you.

Listen to others. There are few better ways of winning the regard of people than by listening-really listening-to what they have to say. It proves that you are interested in them, respect their opinions, feel they have something worthwhile to say. Nobody considers himself a fool, and there is little to be gained from being the one to break the news to him. Who knows? In the process of listening to everyone, you may learn something.

Put yourself in the other fellow’s shoes. You like appreciation for a job well done, a favor conferred, a thoughtful gesture. So does everyone else. You don’t care to be made the butt of a bad joke, ridiculed, denigrated behind your back. Neither does anybody else. Empathy is as old as the Golden Rule, and it works as well today as it did then.

Keep your sense of humor. The ability to laugh with others and, sometimes, at yourself is an essential ingredient of the likable personality. No one cares for a sourpuss, regardless of his or her other attributes.

Keep your sense of proportion. Recognize that some things are not worth making a fuss over, while other things merit all the fuss you can muster. The person who expends as much energy in calling attention to a small mistake as to a king size blunder is suffering from critical myopia. It is neither wise leadership nor good human relations.

Go out of your way for others when you can. A little favor goes a long way with most people. This is not to say that you must “buy” a reputation for amiability by becoming a doormat for others. Rather, look for those opportunities to be helpful to others in “little” ways-e.g., passing along a news item of interest to someone, pointing out an overlooked opportunity, identifying a new resource that will help someone do his or her job more effectively.

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