Managing people isn’t easy. 👨👩👧👦
And yet, if we want to live in a society, have friends and family, we’re going to always be in touch with other people. Along with finance, people management is something no one teaches how to do. Whether you’re an employee, freelancer or business owner, people management is an essential skill that is much more valuable than may first appear…
So far I’ve figured out two skills that can be life changing (yes!) to be building in your twenties: technology skills and now, people management. I’m basing this article on the people management book How to Win Friends and Influence People and parts of other business books. The book is a little outdated and might have some odd techniques which are over simplistic and two sided, but the base message is pretty mind blowing. Personally, the book changed my life when it comes to understanding why people act the way they do, and how I should act if I want to learn how to manage people. It’s not easy, but it’s surprisingly simple…
1. Be genuinely interested
It probably comes to no surprise that we love talking about ourselves. 💁♀️ Everyone’s favourite topic is ourselves. So showing a genuine interest in someone literally means the world to them. And therefore if you really want someone to like you, simply asking questions about them and listening will get you very far.
Show appreciation and genuine interest. Fake appreciation is easy to see through so don’t even try. When meeting someone new, ask and listen. 👂
Snazzy How to Win Friends quote:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
2. Use empathy
When trying to understand someone or working with someone, empathy is key. You’d think this is obvious, but believe it or not, lack of empathy is what causes most arguments. This is especially true if you want someone to do you a favour. Carnegie explains that instead of giving orders, you want to be giving ‘suggestions’, and use empathy by putting yourself in their position and thinking ‘What is it that will make them want to do this?’. Once again, if you applied the ‘be genuinely interested’ rule, you know this person enough to understand them, and you can put yourself in their position.
A classic example is a mum ordering her child (#me) to clean his room. Instead of shouting, punishing and putting deadlines, the mother needs to put herself in the position of her child ‘What will make him want to clean his room?’. The answer to that varies from child to child, but a solution might be to give him a ‘fine reputation to live up to’. She tells her child he’s in charge of the cleanest room in the house, and she knows he’s going to do a great job. Now the challenge is his and his only, and he’s not willing to fail that. Try it… you may be pleasantly surprised 😉
“People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.”
3. Remember names
Remembering the names of people makes another world of a difference 🌎. Why? Because everyone nowadays says they’re ‘bad at remembering names’. Everyone is obviously bad at remembering names because it’s a memory issue – and most of us don’t work on our memories. Which is why actually remembering names can be hugely influential. By remembering names you are showing someone appreciation just because you are actually making the effort of memorising their name. By calling them by their first name, you immediately give a positive tone to the conversation. Win win.
Calling someone by their name is like paying them a very subtle compliment. Conversely, forgetting or misspelling someone’s name can have the opposite effect and make them feel as though you are distant and disinterested in them. Remember the last time someone misspelled your name. Did you feel a slight irritation? Yep, doesn’t feel great.
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”
4. When in disagreement, hear them out first 👂
This strategy has helped me hugely in my personal life.
The most important reason that disagreements are uncomfortable is because of emotions, and many times those emotions include frustration and impatience with the other party. Many times, we enter disagreements and get angry simply because the other party is not listening, or we feel they don’t care. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Carnegie explains that if you want a discussion/argument to go well, here are a few steps you can follow:
- Let the other person say everything they want to say and make sure they know that you’re listening and paying attention – this will most likely solve the emotions part.
- Once they are finished, look for areas where you agree, and start with those.
- If you still disagree, let them know you need time to think over the ideas, and what your points of disagreement are.
Simple, and yet mind blowingly effective. Try it next time you’re in an argument.
Other tips from the book:
- Never tell people they are wrong
- Admit that you are wrong, quickly and openly
- Don’t blame others, show empathy: ‘I don’t blame you for feeling that way, I would feel the same’
“Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so. Don’t condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. Only wise, tolerant, exceptional people even try to do that”
5. Praise, do not criticize
The most important of the 5 rules.
There’s a difference between constructive criticism and just plain criticism – the latter is much more destructive. Instead of criticising and punishing when someone does something wrong, the best strategy is doing the opposite; praising when they do something right, even the slightest improvement.
Let’s go back once again to the example of the mother trying to get her child to clean his room. What should she really do? Give him a fine reputation to live up to, and praise even the smallest improvements. Every time he cleans even part of his room the mother will praise and encourage him to keep going.
Anyone who owns a dog knows that it’s the same deal – you train dogs by giving treats every time they do something right. Shouting and punishing only causes distrust and dislike, and does not work in the long run. Us humans aren’t too different.
“I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody.”—Benjamin Franklin
Practicing people management skills
Managing people is a very valuable ‘soft skill’, and you get good at it as you do with everything else: by practicing. Learning the strategies mentioned above will help learn how to negotiate, will help you get jobs, will help you get clients, funding and help in the business world. They are essential if you’re ever going to be starting a project which involves people (which most do), and it’ll make things a little easier when working with difficult people.
How to practice? By starting now. Maybe even going to networking events, or local meetups in your area. When you meet someone new this time listen carefully, ask about them, and make sure to remember their name. When in a disagreement, let the other person hear themselves out completely before putting forward your arguments. When giving orders, use suggestions, and always praise improvements rather than punish mistakes. And trust me, you’ll see a difference.
This is a skill that takes a long time to develop, which is why starting it early on can make a huge difference. Personally, I am far from having mastered the skill of people management, but simply by being aware of its importance and just practicing has been very useful. What is even more interesting and informative is observing; I see the mistakes other people commit when trying to manage people. They don’t listen, they punish, they critisize and most of all, they never try to put themselves in the position of the other. Just by playing detective, you can also learn a lot. 🧐