Working Peoplesmart

6 Strategies for Success Bring Out the Best in Colleagues, Customers, Direct Reports, and Your Boss

Mel Silberman (Author) | Freda Hansburg (Author)

Publication date: 06/09/2004

Working Peoplesmart
  • Offers six easy-to-apply strategies for becoming people-savvy at work, with over 50 examples of the strategies in action
  • No complex personality typologies or classification systems to learn-these are universal techniques that work on everyone, and in any situation
  • From the authors of PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence

Bringing out the best in others is good business. When we bring both respect and interpersonal savvy to our work relationships, we do more than make people feel good. We enhance personal and organizational performance. And as the workplace grows more complex and competitive, managing our work relationships becomes even more essential and difficult. Now more than ever we need to work people smart. Working PeopleSmart describes the six core strategies used by people-smart individuals and shows how to apply them in the toughest workplace situations. Individuals who are people smart know how to open others up rather than make them defensive or resistant. They have a knack for diffusing tension rather than creating it. They set a good example through their own behavior on the job and can inspire and influence others with less developed skills. Working PeopleSmart can serve as your virtual coach to guide you through difficult work relationships skillfully. How do you deal with a critical colleague? Make your boss listen to you? React to an offensive joke? Get the resources you need? The authors look at over 50 real-life situations and offer people-smart prescriptions for handling them effectively. They provide coaching tips for each scenario and describe exactly what a people-smart response sounds like. As two psychologists with both organizational and clinical expertise, coauthors Mel Silberman and Freda Hansburg are highly qualified to deliver the message that we can emerge from even the toughest interpersonal moments on the job with dignity and grace. Where other books rely on typologies that categorize people according to their interpersonal styles and then offer advice on how to deal with each type, the strategies described in Working PeopleSmart are straightforward and universal. They can be used immediately to deal with any type of person or any situation, no matter how difficult or sensitive.

  • Offers six easy-to-apply strategies for becoming people-savvy at work, with over 50 examples of the strategies in action
  • No complex personality typologies or classification systems to learn-these are universal techniques that work on everyone, and in any situation
  • From the authors of PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence

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Overview

  • Offers six easy-to-apply strategies for becoming people-savvy at work, with over 50 examples of the strategies in action
  • No complex personality typologies or classification systems to learn-these are universal techniques that work on everyone, and in any situation
  • From the authors of PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence

Bringing out the best in others is good business. When we bring both respect and interpersonal savvy to our work relationships, we do more than make people feel good. We enhance personal and organizational performance. And as the workplace grows more complex and competitive, managing our work relationships becomes even more essential and difficult. Now more than ever we need to work people smart. Working PeopleSmart describes the six core strategies used by people-smart individuals and shows how to apply them in the toughest workplace situations. Individuals who are people smart know how to open others up rather than make them defensive or resistant. They have a knack for diffusing tension rather than creating it. They set a good example through their own behavior on the job and can inspire and influence others with less developed skills. Working PeopleSmart can serve as your virtual coach to guide you through difficult work relationships skillfully. How do you deal with a critical colleague? Make your boss listen to you? React to an offensive joke? Get the resources you need? The authors look at over 50 real-life situations and offer people-smart prescriptions for handling them effectively. They provide coaching tips for each scenario and describe exactly what a people-smart response sounds like. As two psychologists with both organizational and clinical expertise, coauthors Mel Silberman and Freda Hansburg are highly qualified to deliver the message that we can emerge from even the toughest interpersonal moments on the job with dignity and grace. Where other books rely on typologies that categorize people according to their interpersonal styles and then offer advice on how to deal with each type, the strategies described in Working PeopleSmart are straightforward and universal. They can be used immediately to deal with any type of person or any situation, no matter how difficult or sensitive.

  • Offers six easy-to-apply strategies for becoming people-savvy at work, with over 50 examples of the strategies in action
  • No complex personality typologies or classification systems to learn-these are universal techniques that work on everyone, and in any situation
  • From the authors of PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Mel Silberman



Mel Silberman is president of Active Training in Princeton, New Jersey, a company that offers active-training seminars for educational, corporate, government, and human service organizations worldwide. He is known internationally as a pioneer in training and performance improvement. As professor of adult and organizational development at Temple University, he has won two awards for his distinguished teaching. He shares his original and practical ideas through numerous books, including Active Training, The Best of Active Training, 101 Ways to Make Training Active, and The 60-Minute Active Training Series.



Silberman’s training skills, psychological insights, and engaging personality have made him a popular keynote speaker and workshop leader at conferences of ASTD, ISPI, and NASAGA. He served as the editor of The ASTD Training and Performance Sourcebook and The ASTD Team and Organization Development Sourcebook, annual collections of tools for trainers and consultants. He recently edited The Handbook of Experiential Learning (Pfeiffer, 2007).

Contributor to ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals - Available as article-length Fast Fundamentals whitepaper (PDF download): Active Learning Strategies.



Visit Author Page - Freda Hansburg

Freda Hansburg, Ph.D. is a psychologist and novelist.

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Table of Contents

Strategy 1: Be Curious Rather Than Furious

Strategy 2: Include the Listener Rather Than Talk at Him or Her

Strategy 3: Speak Up (with Tact) Rather Than Suffer in Silence

Strategy 4: Invite Others to be Your Mirror Rather Than Discourage Them

Strategy 5: Be Open to Resistance Rather Than Fight or Ignore It

Strategy 6: Think We, Not Me Now What?

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Excerpt

Working People Smart

Introduction

Bringing out the best in others is good business.

When we bring both respect and interpersonal savvy to our work relationships, we do more than make people feel good. We enhance personal and organizational performance. Customers are more likely to return to companies that treat them well. Staff show more loyalty to supportive employers. Cohesive teams are more productive. Individuals with strong people skills are more likely to succeed—and far less likely to be fired.

As the workplace grows more complex and competitive, managing our work relationships becomes even more essential and difficult. Today’s challenges in organizational life include:


Doing more with less—enhancing productivity and collaboration among teams with depleted numbers and morale


Bringing people together—bridging the gaps posed by diversity and virtual workplaces to promote understanding and effective communication


Building leadership—developing managers who bring out the best in their people, rather than put out fires among them


All of these situations pose daily interpersonal dilemmas as we deal with customers, colleagues, supervisors, and people who may report to us. Unfortunately, for many of us the workplace is not an interpersonal bed of roses. Tensions among co-workers are increasing. In one recent survey nearly 70% of people at work reported themselves the victims of rudeness and put-downs from fellow workers—and they retaliated by bad-mouthing the company, missing deadlines, and treating customers disrespectfully.* Does this sound like something you’ve experienced?

We believe that the worst way to respond to these mounting interpersonal tensions is by retaliating, despairing, or becoming cynical. These reactions only perpetuate the negativity. The only way out of the morass is to work people-smart. What’s more, we believe that anyone can. Our goal in this book is to demonstrate how you can face the most daunting interpersonal scenarios and turn them into opportunities for success, using six key strategies.

What Is “Working People-Smart”?

Individuals who work people-smart focus on bringing out the best in others on the job. They know how to open people up rather than make them defensive or resistant. They have a knack for defusing tension rather than creating it. They set a good example through their own behavior and can inspire and influence those with weaker skills.

What does it take to work people-smart?

As we described in our previous book, PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence, being savvy with people is a multifaceted competence that includes eight core skills:

  • Understanding people
  • Expressing yourself clearly
  • Asserting your needs
  • Seeking and giving feedback
  • Influencing others
  • Resolving conflict
  • Being a team player
  • Shifting gears when relationships are stuck

Mastering all eight of these skills is a lifetime effort. Few of us are fortunate enough to have been born with interpersonal genius. Most of us need to work at it. But the good news is that all of us can improve our interpersonal intelligence by applying the suggestions provided in People Smart. The book serves as a personal training guide to be used in any life situation in which bringing out the best in others is imperative.

Since the publication of People Smart, we’ve learned more about the essential ingredients of being people-smart—especially as it applies to the workplace. Our consulting assignments have brought us to a wide variety of work environments. We’ve observed individuals at all levels and in different environments, such as large corporations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, small businesses, and educational institutions. We have paid particular attention to the four key arenas in which strong people skills are critical:

  • Relating to your boss
  • Supervising and coaching others
  • Collaborating with colleagues and teammates
  • Serving or selling to customers

As a result of this opportunity, we have identified six “strategies” that separate the person who works people-smart from those who do not. We call them “strategies” because they go beyond “skills.” They are the basic approaches people take with others that allow them to succeed in key relationships… and garner success.

In Working PeopleSmart, we will explore each of these strategies for success. We’ll look at how and why people-smart individuals employ them, especially in tough situations. Here are the six strategies of working people-smart.

Six Strategies for Success

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When interacting with a myriad of people, we inevitably experience some of them as challenging or difficult to understand. Often, this upsetting experience leads to frustration and sometimes anger. Those who work people-smart make it a practice to understand the challenging behaviors of others instead of just getting upset.

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When we communicate information to others, our messages may be unclear because we fail to think about the needs of the listener. Those who work people-smart have figured out that the listener is their “communication partner.” They make it a practice to consider the listener’s frame of reference and foster two-way communication exchanges that increase understanding.

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All of us experience moments at work when we should express our own views, needs, and expectations to others. Some of us remain silent and resentment builds. Others of us speak up for ourselves without hesitation but do so in ways that make others defensive. Those who work people-smart understand that their own ideas and concerns are important, and they make it their business to express them in ways that are clear but respectful of others.

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Other people have perspectives about our performance that are useful to our growth and development. However, most of us are reluctant to seek feedback from those with whom we work. Those who work people-smart understand that “feedback is the breakfast of champions.” They seek the feedback of others rather than wait for it, and they develop strategies that encourage constructive feedback.

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People at work don’t always agree with each other or follow each other’s recommendations. All too often, when faced with disagreement or conflict, people become either argumentative or avoiding. Those who work people-smart are influential because they consistently “surface” resistance by making efforts to understand the concerns and objections of others and use that information to build agreement and resolution.

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Teamwork is essential in any organization. Often, we act in ways that don’t contribute to teamwork—without even realizing it. Although our intentions may not be selfish, our actions wind up serving only ourselves. Those who work people-smart gain from behaviors that foster collaborative rather than individual effort.

Can I Work People-Smart?

By now you may be asking yourself, “ Can I do all that?” Our answer is a resounding yes. As psychologists, we have seen time and again that people can and do change—given two conditions:

You must decide to change. You are the one who has to take the initiative to turn things around. Makeovers may happen on “reality” TV, but in real life we can’t change other people. The best we can do is change ourselves. Fortunately, by doing this, we often elicit something new from others.

You must work at change. Our six strategies are long-term endeavors, not quick fixes. This is not to say that a single peoplesmart response won’t transform a bad situation. It often does. But you will have to be patient and persistent at integrating the strategies into your daily life, and not abandon your efforts when you encounter setbacks.

If you need some help applying these strategies, we are here to serve as your virtual coach and guide you through difficult work relationships skillfully and gracefully. Everyone encounters interpersonal situations that test the capacity to be people-smart. After describing each of the six strategies of working people-smart, we will look at such dilemmas—the challenging, realistic scenarios that test your people skills—and offer our people-smart prescriptions for handling them effectively. We’ll provide coaching tips for each scenario and let you hear exactly what a people-smart response sounds like.

So here is the coaching contract we propose.

We will share the know-how you require to sharpen your people edge. Your job will be to take these strategies to work with you. Are you ready to begin?

*Lisa Penney, reported in APA MONITOR, vol. 34, No. 6, June 2003, p.11.

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Endorsements

“Mel Silberman is the Leonardo da Vinci of experiential learning—a scholar, inventor, engineer, and artist—and PeopleSmart is a masterpiece. Silberman, along with colleague Freda Hansburg, has crafted the most skillfully organized, user-friendly, and personally useful handbook of interpersonal lessons and individual development activities currently available in the marketplace.”
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor of The Leadership Challenge and Encouraging the Heart, Chairman Emeritus, tompeters!company

“PeopleSmart is an elegantly simple fieldbook, jampacked with everything you need for great relationships. Make it a must-read for all your relations—associates, friends, spouse— and reap the rewards of harmony, understanding and productivity.”
—Chip R. Bell, coauthor of Dance Lessons: Six Steps to Great Partnerships in Business and Life

“PeopleSmart offers insight and assistance for today's biggest workplace challenges—getting things done through others.”
—Ron Zemke, coauthor of Generations at Work

“PeopleSmart is at once inspirational and practical. If you want to be interpersonally effective, this book will show you the way.”
—Glenn Parker, author of Team Players and Teamwork

“I found PeopleSmart to be concise and easy to understand. I believe it will be quite a useful learning tool for operational managers.”
—Hiromasa Yokoi, Vice Chairman, CEO and President, Berlitz International, Inc.

“PeopleSmart gives us eight critical skills to achieve interpersonal success in all aspects of life. It's easy to read, practical, and very useful.”
—Lenny T. Ralphs, Director of Strategic Management, Franklin Covey

“PeopleSmart should be required reading for all corporate executives. Mastering even one chapter could transform a career.”
—John H. Reynolds, President, BMF Reynolds, Consultants in Executive Recruiting.

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