Thursday, May 15, 2008

11 Cardinal Rules Of Human Relations

Call people by name
It's the sweetest sound to anyone's ears.
When you use a person's name, you personalize your message; it becomes their own. It also communicates that you care and that you find the person memorable. It's a deceptively simple tool to lower people's guards, since it establishes a bond. Pepper your sentences with names, and start questions with them, like, "Iqbal, how are you doing today?"

Admit that you're wrong
You may think that you're losing face if you own up to a mistake. Don't. Recognizing one's own errors is one of the workplace's most honorable acts, since so few people do. Learn how to put your ego aside and admit that you aren't perfect. Just don't overdo it in an "I blew it" e-mail to the whole office, or by gushing apologies at a meeting. A simple, "I made a mistake and I realize it," is all that's required.

Hold people to high standards
A few among us, commonly labeled control freaks, seem to think that no one but themselves can do things competently. Don't be one of these people. Trust the abilities of others. In fact, trust them to do the best job possible. It's not about having excessively high expectations. Believing in a person encourages him to really do his best not to disappoint. At the same time, be patient with those still getting the hand of a new task.

Show sincere interest
"How's your day, Steve? Good. Okay, I need you to go over some numbers for me." That's not showing interest, that's sputtering out canned niceties like that boss in Office Space . Everyone in your office has a rich history of interests, experiences and styles. Find out about those around you, even if you have nothing in common.
If a colleague says he likes online game competitions, ask him questions about it -- even if you couldn't care less. Not only can you learn something new, you'll score points if you bring it up at a later point. People like being remembered.

Stick to your word and know when to shut it...

Offer praise
Don't just say "good job." Be specific in your praise and show that you're aware of what the other person actually did. "You steered that meeting very well, Mike, especially when everyone was distracted," is a good example. At the same time, be sparse with criticism. Dole it out only when truly needed, and spin it as constructive advice from a trusted friend.

Keep your word
Don't say you'll do something if you have no intention of following through. Your credibility hangs heavily on your word. If you flake on your promises, you won't be entrusted with critical tasks, and you won't likely go far in your career.

Show your gratitude
If someone does you a favor or goes out of their way to get something done for you, make sure you recognize their efforts. You're not automatically entitled to favors, and nobody owes you their extra mile. If you receive one, thank the person and offer to do something in return.

Be considerate
Never assume people will take your words at face value. Some will naturally comb every word a person says, looking for a personal affront. You can't change these people, but you can structure your sentences carefully around them. Think before you talk and make sure there are no ambiguities that could be misinterpreted.

It's also by making the effort to understand others' points of view that you preclude misunderstandings. You may deeply believe that you are right, but realize that others think the same way about their ideas and beliefs. You have to respect their opinions, and see why they think the way they do. Instead of arguing, ask others to explain their positions. You don't have to agree, but you can say, "I understand where you're coming from."

Give of yourself
Step out of your job description once in a while and help others with their tasks. Do this without having to be asked. Saying, "Need a hand there?" has a twofold effect. First, you encourage others to give of themselves, creating a more positive workplace. Second, you buy yourself a future favor, since kindness always comes back. It goes with "what you give, you'll get back".

Be humble
Obvious efforts to impress your colleagues and superiors will do just the opposite. No one likes a showoff. If you're aching to have your accomplishments acknowledged, you'll simply have to exercise more patience. Your achievements will gain genuine approval if you let people discover them instead of flashing it in their faces. And if you play down your successes, you'll be even more respected for your humility.

Help others save face
Everyone makes blunders. Think back to the last time you made an embarrassing gaffe. Didn't you wish someone would step up and play down the seriousness of it? Then do the same for others. Laugh off the faux pas with the person (not at him) with a friendly slap on the shoulder, saying, "It happens to the best of us." Reassure him and others it's not the end of the world. If it's appropriate, say nothing instead of bringing needless attention to the mistake.