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Home > Blogs > Dealing with people – a missing link for success?
John D Rockefeller had once said that “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee.” And, I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun”.
This statement of his endorses the people management skill being a major skill set towards achieving success in any walk of life. Two things, I have always felt are challenging in life – handling emotions and managing people. More so, in a service industry where one deals with people with sometimes emotions running high!
Even though much water has flown down the river Cauvery since this statement of JDR, not a great deal of work particularly in the temples of knowledge seem to have been done towards strengthening this skill of the learners. Of course, there are workshops and seminars being held to drive home the importance of managing people (which, I feel, in itself is derogatory – getting along with people should sound better) but all these have been confined more or less to being a sweet departure from the ordeals of academics. What I mean to say is – this is not a part of academics as ideally, it should have been.
In fact, every college should have come out with specialized courses to develop this highest-priced ability under the sun. Why nothing much significant has been done, is being done? The answer is clear, the colleges cater to the demand and unfortunately, there is a bigger demand for domain knowledge rather than social skills. People are willing to pay for the domain knowledge hoping that from knowledge comes everything else – it rarely does!
In earlier generations, dealing with people came easily as an inborn trait because of the joint family system where everyone had to understand the feelings of everyone else and co-exist. This extended to social circles too very naturally. Emotions – positive ones, were on display. Now that the world has got into the nuclear family concept, in the present generation there is no natural inclination towards the ability in dealing with people – either internal or external to the family. Perhaps, this art is considered as something not worth pursuing as it does not bring in the materialistic comforts.
What cannot be found at home cannot be definitely on display at social places – be it, at the workplace or in social gatherings. I, for myself, have become the key driver of social relationships. We have forgotten how important it is to set aside our feelings and emotions and make someone else happy through our words and actions. Even at the workplace, particularly, the service sector – the thinking is like, a customer comes in for some work and there is nothing to feel excited about. Understanding the customer is restricted only to upsell and cross-sell. No doubt this is important in the business context.
What is it all about dealing with people? We all deal with people but what is important is how they feel post our interaction with them. Have we left behind a flavour which they would like to savour or have we left a distaste? The art of dealing with people is defined by whether your team members look upto you when you arrive at the office or look away from you? Whether they recall your association with pride or whether it is just another of the numerous working relationships? How many courses are designed to teach all these? Our colleges are no doubt producing domain experts with artificial intelligence but are they refining human beings? Creating happiness socially is something that had to be very high up on the academic agenda but this does not ring in money. Anything that is not seen as commercially viable is not worth pursuing – seems to be the motto.
All of us lament on the current state of affairs and the inability of connecting with people. To deal with people wonderfully well, there has to be a connect. The Government has come out with a very interesting National Education Policy. Unfortunately, even in the new policy, the importance of dealing with people is conspicuously missing. All efforts are only towards the enrichment of domain knowledge and not an iota of social skill. Man is a social animal and if he does not learn the basic tenets of dealing with people, he will remain a mere animal (no offence meant to animals).
How do we ingrain in ourselves this art of dealing with people in such a way that they look for further interactions with us? There are no mathematical formulae for this. For some, it comes naturally and for others after many efforts. However, one good thing is that one need not be born with this trait, it can be cultivated.
- Understand the feelings of others. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
- Appreciate the goodness in the people around you. Be liberal in praising and appreciating
- Appreciate that the emotions in them do not remain the same consistently. Mood changes do occur.
- Do not judge people instantaneously. Judge people over a period and not by instances.
- Show genuine concern. Lip sympathy will eventually cause more harm.
- Celebrate others success and if possible help overcomes failures.
I have heard people, particularly in a service industry, say that customers do not understand our challenges, we too are having health issues chiefly, BP, Diabetes etc. which are mood swingers. But they should do well to remember that the person at the other side of the counter may be having bigger health issues which dwarf their own health-related challenges. Leave your problems at home and reflect on those only when you go back home. Your problems are your problems – no one cares, no one bothers.
For all the teachers out there, till such time, our education policy begins to attach more importance to the lessons of life rather than mere domain knowledge, it is our responsibility to walk the talk. Learners do not look for any domain dosages as they are available all over the internet and more powerfully too. They learn more by our conduct, our attitude, our people dealing skills and our people connect.
Can we as the torchbearers be able to inculcate some of the people dealing skills through experience sharing, storytelling, anecdotes etc. interspersing the same with the domain knowledge transfer? This will be a yeoman service as this will make the difference of “creating happiness whenever one goes OR creating happiness wherever one goes”!
Where would we all like to be – whenever of wherever? Depends on our people connect and our people dealing skills.
About the author
Raghunandan V J is a banker with 30 years of experience in a leading public sector bank. He had served as head of south India of the retail wing of the bank. He holds MCom and an MBA in HR. He is also a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers.
Currently, Raghunandan is working as Assistant Professor with the role of Associate Dean at Manipal Global Academy of BFSI. He has over 10 years of experience in training banking professionals.