Get Along to Get Ahead
by Dr. John C. Maxwell

For a business study a few years ago, more than 2,000 employers were asked, “For the last three persons dismissed from your business, why did you let them go?” The pollsters were surprised by the results. Two out of every three fired employees — regardless of the type of business or region of the country — were dismissed for the same reason: THEY COULDN’T GET ALONG WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

Relationships make or break us. From the quality of our family time to our interactions at work, our relationships are largely responsible for our career success or failure. To be a success in life, you must learn to get along with people.

The ability to develop relationships isn’t based on some magical talent, although some people ARE born with strong instincts. For most of us, these abilities are learned.

Here Are Some Guidelines to Help You Develop Positive People Skills:

TAKE THE FOCUS OFF YOURSELF

People who focus on themselves when interacting with others rarely build positive lasting relationships. All they do is create frustration for themselves and boredom for the other person.

Instead, become a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. And be perceptive — when in another’s home or office, observe your surroundings. You can discover quite a bit about someone’s hobbies and interests by looking at pictures on the walls, trophies, books or mementos. Ask questions about what you see, and pay attention to the answers.

CARE AND KNOW A LOT ABOUT OTHERS

I often say that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And it’s true; all the skills and education in the world will never impress anyone as much as genuine, heartfelt care for them. Plus, few things have a more positive effect on others than finding out and remembering things about them. Knowing a lot about people is a real display of your care for them, and it creates a lasting bond.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE ANYONE’S VALUE

In spite of our human desire for large-scale influence, we really make an impact on people ONE AT A TIME. And we can miss some important opportunities to connect if we dismiss or overlook people we meet every day.

Meet others with anticipation, and expect EVERY encounter to yield positive results. It costs little to make another person feel important and respected, but it does wonderful things for him or her. Value everyone, and you will never be guilty of underestimating anyone.

ALWAYS BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE

In the best relationships, both parties give and receive. To give to your relationships, bring something positive “to the table” when you meet, such as ideas, opportunities, and resources.

But besides giving, be willing to receive from the other person. In fact, one of the best ways to start a relationship is to ask for advice or a favor. While this may surprise you, it really works. Everyone loves to show his expertise and authority on a subject, because it makes him feel honored and respected. And we all enjoy the feeling that comes from helping someone else.

USE CONFLICT AS A TOOL, NOT A WEAPON

The presence of conflict in a relationship is natural and healthy. Damage only occurs when we react inappropriately to it. Try to use conflict as a tool — to learn more about the other person and find a solution that serves both of you. Relationships that endure conflict become stronger and deeper.

BE CREDIBLE AND CONSISTENT

Few things damage a friendship more severely than breaking a trust. And that happens when a person is inconsistent — when his words and actions don’t match or when he stops fulfilling his obligations. Relationships dissolve quickly when others can’t count on you, so say what you mean and stick to your word.

The growing person knows the value of good relationships. They bring both personal satisfaction and professional success. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “The most important single ingredient to the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

If you aren’t naturally gifted in this area, don’t worry. People skills can be learned, so work at improving them. If you already have a talent for working with others, keep fine-tuning your abilities. Either way, with improved people skills, your potential for success is nearly limitless.

John Maxwell is the founder of INJOY, an organization dedicated to helping people maximize their personal and leadership potential. He is the author of twenty-one books, including The Success Journey, Developing the Leader Within Your, and Becoming a Person of Influence. You can visit Dr. Maxwell at his Web site: www.injoy.com.

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