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People Management

Enlisting Cooperation, A Touch Of Sweetness, Creating Positive Relationships, Dealing With Difficult People

One company I worked for offered a course designed to improve employees’ interpersonal skills. I was in public relations and interacted with people all the time, so it was a no-brainer for me to sign up. On the first day of class, I was surprised to see that I was the only marketing person in the group. Most of my classmates were computer programmers and graphic designers. Later, I asked one of the programming supervisors why he wanted his people to take this class. After all, these folks sat in front of machines all day long—it wasn't unusual for them to go from morning coffee to lunch without talking to a single human being.

“Aren't some folks drawn to programming because they don't want to deal with people, because the interpersonal stuff makes them uncomfortable?” I asked.

“That's sometimes true,” the supervisor said. “And it's all the more reason for them to take this class. There's no such thing as a job that doesn't require people skills. My staff might talk to a customer or colleague only once a day, but if that interaction goes badly, it will snowball, and I just can't afford that.”

Let this be a lesson for all of us. Throughout this book I've talked about how being the best and the brightest won't get you very far in corporate business if you can't communicate effectively with the people around you. An individual who has mastered the art of people management gets things accomplished by leveraging his efforts in concert with the efforts of others. This is not always easy to do. How many times have we said to ourselves, “If only I didn't need to rely on Person A and could do Task X by myself, everything would be just peachy.” Well, in this chapter I'll cover strategies for enlisting your colleagues’ cooperation so that you can increase the control you have over your own success. We'll also spend some time on the underrated concept of gratitude in the workplace, as well as examine strategies for creating positive relationships and coping with difficult personalities.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareer Advice: Career 101 for Recent Graduates, New Hires, and Would-be Corporate Climbers