“Help, I’m stuck! What do I do next?”

31 Dec, 2020

Have you ever been stuck? Wheels spinning? You know there’s got to be a better way, or even just a different way that is worth trying?

Many of the problems or challenges you face at work are technical, and you know how to solve those. You do a little research in the relevant technical ‘bible’, or you ask a more experienced colleague how to proceed. In a sense, the technical stuff is easy. But alongside the technical stuff, and sometimes embedded within it, are the ‘softer’ or people problems.

Indeed, when a brief or case goes off the rails, the derailment is usually caused by the people aspects rather than the technical aspects. What happens then? Where do you turn to find out how to manage other people, especially when you don’t have any direct authority over them? And in some cases, how do you need to manage yourself so you show up in a way that makes your path run more smoothly, the people you meet on your path more biddable, and your desired outcome more likely?

What would it be worth to you to have easy access to hints, tips, and techniques to solve those people-oriented problems that disrupt your work and make it harder to get your job done? Instead of a technical bible, what about a ‘bible’ full of information to help you with things like assertiveness, difficult conversations, motivation, rapport, presentations, managing meetings and the myriad of other non-technical skills you need to be successful.

You are probably already far better at managing other people than you imagine. After all, you started managing your parents before you could talk. It is often the case, however, that the people management skills we learned earlier in life have not been updated for our working environment. Throwing your toys out of the pram may well have been a successful strategy when you were much younger, but it does not work so well in a business meeting. You can probably think of other childish people management strategies that you have seen play out in the workplace.

Another people factor that plays out in the workplace is how we wear our masks, and which mask we wear. We all wear a mask at times; it’s almost part of the social contract we have with our fellow human beings to ‘get along’, and that’s OK. Where it becomes a problem is if the surface mask is significantly different to the one under it. When we sense this incongruity in another, it can lead to mistrust and uncertainty, neither of which are useful in business dealings.

Look around you, and you will begin to wonder what’s behind the masks. It’s probably not a good idea to go around trying to peel off the layers of masks worn by your boss, your colleagues, or your clients, tempting though it may be. It is enough that once you realise that you are probably looking at a mask you begin to see more in people’s eyes, to hear more in their voice, and to intuitively understand more beyond the image they present to you. Understanding there is more depth to a person than a mask will help you interact with them in a more adult way without your mask getting triggered by the behaviours of their mask. Treat people as if they are more than their presenting mask, and they will begin to show us more.

For ideas like these, and hundreds more, explore the Performance100:Assistant online resource. Discover the wealth of practical information that can support you and help make your job easier and more successful. It has been described as ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ information and the ‘guide-at-your-side’. You can get a free trial here: https://pal.gl/f9

Paul Matthews
CEO and Founder of People Alchemy
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