I was approached this past week by a colleague who posed an interesting question, “How are you so confident in dealing with people?” It’s something I’ve never really thought about. Dealing with people has come naturally to me, but there are active steps you can take to deal with people. I’ll get into those in a bit.
First – I was very thankful my colleague approached me to “pick my brain.” Sometimes we get into our own heads and resist the temptation to ask for help or guidance. You may think you’re weak by asking certain questions or maybe you’re too embarrassed. DON’T BE!
Everyone has a coach
Think about someone you admire, whether it’s in the business world, your personal life or athletics. I enjoy sports, so I’m going to start there. ALL OF THE BEST PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES IN THE WORLD HAVE A COACH.
Think about that for a second. All the “greats” have had someone they could reach out to for guidance. Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. All are / were considered the BEST athletes in their respective line of work. Throughout Wayne’s career he was solidified by top-tier coach’s. Even his dad was someone he could go to for advice. Some, including Michael, say the reason he got to where he did in basketball was due to his coach’s in high school, college and eventually the NBA. Even Tiger Woods has a swing coach. No doubt, their talents alone could have taken them to superstardom, but there was always someone behind the scenes unlocking that talent.
If these guys have a coach, you should probably have one too.
A coach or mentor could be someone in your line of work or someone completely random. For example, I have two mentors who are in my line of work. My other mentor, lives in NYC and is deeply rooted in psychology. My suggestion is to find someone who’s in your line of work and try to find one or two outside your line of work. Heck, they could even be a friend or a friend of a friend. As long as it’s someone you respect and trust will give you the best advice even if it hurts your feelings.
Even the best seek advice
I ran into the “I can do everything better than you!” mindset when I stepped foot into college. Wow! Did I ever get a reality check. My peers were just as strong if not stronger and my instructors were out of this world. My mindset had to change and I had to start letting my guard down and asking for advice. I did and it’s been a life changing experience.
People WANT to help you if you ask them. The first step is to ask. It doesn’t matter if you’re considered the best in your field or if you think you’re the best…you can always learn. As my grade 7 Social Studies teacher would say, “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” The only way to improve, is to challenge your thinking and get an outside perspective.
How can you do this?
APPROACH AND ASK. Find something you admire about a person. For example, I’ll take you back to the top of this post. My colleague admired my ability to deal with people. She mentioned that and asked, “Can I pick your brain…?” Those are 5 very strong words. Try using them and you’ll be amazed how quickly people’s walls come down. As I mentioned, people WANT to help you.
Seeking out and asking for advice has completely changed my life. Don’t be embarrassed to ask someone you admire for help. And if you STILL have the mentality of “I’m the best and everyone else is stupid!” try and remember this: You’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are.
If you want to take this one step further. Find those who you can mentor. Mentees are just as powerful as mentors.
How to deal with people?
There are plenty of questions that come in up in your day-to-day business from employees and peers. The best way to handle these is to actually care about the question. Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. If you don’t have time at the moment, say so and set up another time. It’s okay being direct with people. They will respect you for it if you do it in a non-confrontational way.
If you’re getting some difficult questions the best way I’ve found to handle these are to throw it back at the person asking. For example – you may get approached by an employee asking about their compensation. Again, care about what they’re saying and then throw it back at them. You could ask, “What are you doing that constitutes a raise?”
Or set up a timeline with said employee with quantifiable goals. Say, “We don’t have room for what you’re asking just yet, but let’s review in 3 – 6 months. If you achieve XYZ and the company gains market share and is able to grow profits X% then I’d be more than happy to compensate you for it. Can we work together on that basis?” This way it puts the ball in their court.
People are intelligent, 9/10 they already know the answers to the questions they are asking. They just need reassurance. On multiple occasions I’ve had part-time employees call me on the weekend asking a very simple question that they already know the answer to. When they ask, I throw it back at them, “What would you do in this situation?” I ask. 9/10 they already know the answer and solve the issue on their own. Have faith in your staff and peers. By putting the ball in their court, they respect you more, they feel a better connection with what they’re doing and they feel like they’re their own boss.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the above, feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.