Test Your People Skills

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Have you noticed the shifts in the workplace in the last few years? You might immediately think about the impacts of COVID, remote work, and video meetings, but there have been other significant changes. If you’ve been in the workplace very long, you’ve undoubtedly noticed them and one in particular. It isn’t subtle. Here is a hint based on the workplace vernacular now in frequent use:

  • Connection, community, and belonging
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Vulnerability, transparency, and authenticity
  • Emotional intelligence, emotional granularity, and emotional regulation
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility
  • Neurodivergence
  • Psychological safety and judgment free
  • Purpose and true self
  • Boundaries
  • Tolerance and respect
  • Environmental, social, and governance

While none of these terms are new, they have become mainstream. They have overtaken old concepts like “do your job”, “just get it done”, “do whatever it takes”, “just get over it”, and “if you can’t do it, we’ll find someone else who can.”

What might this new way of workplace thinking be called? Compassion? People centricity? Emotional intelligence? Being instead of doing? Mushy? Putting people before profit?

Where is this shift coming from? Is it the influence from recent generations? Or a continuing advancement of societal wisdom? A normal evolution of social norms?

There are many opinions about this. Some say it’s about time employees were given the respect and nurturing they deserve. Others say we are losing the fortitude and grit that made us great. Regardless, there is a new reality that can’t be ignored. People expect to be valued and treated with respect. Bullying and leading with fear are no longer tolerated. 

If you are in a position of influence such as a boss, parent, or teacher in today’s society, hopefully you know you are in the people business.

You don’t need to be a psychologist, but success in the free world requires that you know how to read, treat, and work with people. You will be most successful by making people feel valued and respected. When you show that you care about people, they become better versions of themselves, give more effort, and achieve more. They will also pay it forward if not directly return the favor to you.

If you’re unsure how people-centric you are, listed below is a list of people skills against which to test yourself. Assess how well you do at each with those whom you have responsibility for and influence over:

  1. Prioritize. Put people first, before material things, tasks, or projects. Have genuine interest in them.
  2. Know. Read and know people including their ecosystem, motives, drivers, abilities, and dreams.
  3. Hear. Slow down and listen. Replace telling with asking. Let people share their ideas and concerns.
  4. Empathize. Understand people. Relate to their feelings, thoughts, and circumstances.
  5. Care. Be patient with and show compassion for people’s circumstances, needs, and struggles.
  6. Include. Keep people informed. Ask for their input. Share ideas. Involve them in decision making.
  7. Encourage. Recognize people’s strengths, efforts, and contributions. Build their confidence.
  8. Help. Assist people in getting things done, navigating challenges, and overcoming obstacles. 
  9. Develop. Facilitate people’s learning and improvement in their skills, knowledge, and attitude.
  10. Cooperate. Maintain harmony. Share differences of opinion calmly without unhealthy conflict.
  11. Collaborate. Support people’s need for relationship, connection, and working with others.
  12. Adapt. Be openminded to other perspectives. Be appropriately open to alternative approaches.
  13. Influence. Guide, motivate, and persuade people in achieving beneficial outcomes.
  14. Correct with dignity. Give feedback without shaming. Allow people to retain their self-esteem. 
  15. Attend to emotions. Tune into what people feel and how their emotions impact them.
  16. Be real. Share your thoughts and feelings. People want to know with whom they are spending time.
  17. Be trustworthy. Do what you say. Be legitimate, honest, responsive, and dependable.
  18. Be likable. Don’t be too serious or direct. Be respectful, humble, and appropriately lighthearted.

Apply these people practices and watch the people in your sphere of influence flourish. They will give more effort with more care. They will be more positive and take more ownership. They will have more energy and joy.   

PDF version of this article: https://alpinelink.com/docs/Test_Your_People_Skills.pdf

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