9 counterintuitive tips for dealing with people

9 counterintuitive tips for dealing with people

Common wisdom doesn’t always cut it when it comes to dealing with people. Leaders who’ve honed their people skills for years share surprising strategies that work

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6. Keep what makes you unique

Steve Burton, DevOps evangelist, Harness: “Listening to feedback is important, but don't change what makes you unique. Otherwise, you’ll end up like every other executive – polished, robotic, and corporate. Keep your edge, even if it doesn’t please everyone. If doing so blows a hole in your current job or hurts a pending opportunity, accept it as temporary collateral damage. You’ll end up better for it down the line.”

7. Help people – even when theyre considering leaving

Murli Thirumale, CEO, Portworx: “A lot of us might have heard of something called retention coaching, but I believe in something I call non-retention coaching. If there’s an employee considering leaving, we as leaders and managers should encourage them to explore their choices and weigh their options. We should help them through that process. If they end up staying, I have found that they are extremely loyal after that.”

8. Role-playing doesn’t work for some people

Jonathan Fries, VP engineering and digital transformation, Exadel: “The use of role-playing to improve communication skills can be valuable in some situations, but for a lot of people – especially introverts – the stress of role-playing makes it useless. Introverts don’t learn well on stage, and expecting them to learn communication skills through role-playing is totally ineffective. Whatever you had hoped they would learn will be totally wiped out because they will spend most of the time stressing about their performance and no time listening. It’s better to give them information and follow up in individual or one-on-one sessions to see how they are doing with whatever technique you’ve shared with them.”

9. Don’t just respect your elders: Respect everyone

David Bird, Director, Online Mortgage Advisor: “Always respect your elders: This classic piece of advice can be expanded upon to better suit the modern workplace, which can span across three or four generations. Why focus purely on respecting those older than yourself when young people in the workplace thrive off being treated with the same amount of respect and responsibility as their colleagues? If you treat all of your employees with the same level of respect, it creates a space of self-ownership, intuitiveness, and collaboration.”

[ How strong are your soft skills? Read also: Emotional intelligence test: 5 self-evaluation tools for leaders. ]

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