Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Hidden Key to Success

Standard advice usually omits this key to success: be enjoyable to be around. Whether you're an employee or self-employed, people prefer to work with people who make their life more pleasant. They'll often prefer such a person to a more competent one.

So, yes, be as competent as possible, but recognize that you pay a price every time you're high-maintenance, too intense, demeaning, etc., and you gain brownie points every time you make co-workers, bosses, or customers' lives more pleasant: getting a project done without bugging them, not making too many requests, complimenting them, giving them credit, inserting a bit of humor to break the tension in a meeting, etc.

5 comments:

Ben Casnocha said...

Absolutely - I've long thought likability is extremely important and very underrated. Good post.

Anonymous said...

I'd just add that this "key" works wonders for greater success in personal relationships, too . . . .

Frustrated said...

I agree with many of your points. The following for me is easy: "complimenting them, giving them credit, inserting a bit of humor." However, I find it difficult to radically change my intense personality. In addition, as a technical writer, I need the cooperation of subject matter experts who often view this normal process as "too much trouble."

Marty Nemko said...

I understand Frustrated's concern. I'm intense by nature as well. What I do to mitigate that is:

1. Use email. My intense pace of speech and tonality can thus be hidden. I also try to avoid being too perfectionistic; ask only about what is important and I really can't figure out on my own.

2. When I have to call, I consciously speak more slowly and in a light, pleasant tone, looking for an opportunity to be a bit playful--e.g., a quick bit of humor.

3. When they screw up (e.g., miss an appointment for a phone discussion), even though I'm annoyed, I simply say, "I understand. It happens. Would you like to reschedule?"

Frustrated said...

Thank you from "frustrated and intense."

 

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