Managing yourself creatively
Do You Irritate People?
Many executives, who are acutely aware of the importance of good public relations at the corporate level, will think nothing of puffing cigar smoke into their secretaries faces speaking abruptly over the telephone to colleagues… keeping callers waiting unconscionably long in an anteroom.
Simple bad manner? Seldom.
Why, then, do they behave that way? Because, over a period of time, they have permitted themselves to acquire a veneer of personal quirks, annoying mannerisms and bad habits that are anathema to others. As they rise in their companies, fewer and fewer people feel brave enough to tell them off. Eventually, these mannerisms ossify and become integral, and unattractive, parts of their overall personalities.
Ever suspect that you may be guilty? To make sure that you aren’t, here is a checklist of “little things” that frequently annoy people. Admittedly, none of these by itself may be serious. But in combination they could be hurting your own public relations and, consequently, your ability to work through and with others smoothly.
Do you refuse to give ground gracefully even when you have been proved in error? Do you bring up subjects that easily become controversial on a personal level, like religion or politics? Do you find yourself “pulling rank” in disagreements with others?
Not out rightly, of course, but it amounts to the same thing if you constantly say, “See what I mean?” or “You understand?” When you ask questions like these. You imply doubt in the other fellow’s ability to follow you.
DO YOU PLAY FAVORITES?
There is no quicker road to sagging morale than to show favoritism in your day-day-day relationships. Granted, some employees are brighter, better looking or more personally magnetic than others are, but it’s part of your job not to display personal bias, except as it relates to job performance. It is, for example, perfectly proper to assign a job to a man who is better equipped to handle it than another; it is improper to invite one particular employee to lunch day after day and to ignore his peers.
Do you interrupt others, cutting them off in the middle of a statement? Are you loud, bulling your way through an office and interfering with others’ work? Rank has its privileges, to be sure, but they do not include rude behavior.
“Why don’t you people wake up and come out of the Stone Age”? “You sure have a lot of red tape holding things up around here”. A sure route to hard feelings is to heap scorn on another’s area of responsibility. He may have devoted his entire working life to building up the department you’re knocking. Even if he hasn’t, nobody likes to hear disparaging remarks about something with which he is intimately connected.
That is, if someone tries an idea out on you, do you usually pooh-pooh it simply because it challenges the status quo? Do you tend to judge the worth of an idea according to the title of the man propounding it? If an idea is obviously poor, do you enjoy bursting the originator’s balloon? Or do you try to let him down with tact? A lot of managers discourage original thinking because they view any departure from “things-as-they-are” with abnormal suspicion.
DO YOU EMBARRASS OTHERS?
Some men forget that others are present when they lose their tempers. Others simply don’t care who hears them give vent to their feelings. Still others appear to derive some bizarre satisfaction from taking out their frustrations on the nearest innocent. The momentary relief offered by some purple rhetoric is all too brief, however, and you have to face those you may have offended five days a week, week in and week out. So think twice before letting go.
There is no surer way to murder initiative in others than to convince them that their contributions will never be recognized. Insist on taking all the credit for the accomplishments of those under you and you are apt to find your employee turnover increasing alarmingly.
Similarly, if you insist on keeping an eagle eye on every phase of every person’s work, the obvious conclusion is that you trust no one’s ability or judgment. If you delegate a job, by all means check on progress occasionally, but don’t breathe down everybody’s neck.
That “blah” feeling can be highly contagious, and bored, uninspired subordinates seldom turn out more than routine work. If you are tired, ill or not in the mood, you will do yourself and those under you a favor by making yourself scarce. There you have them – ten “little things” that may be standing in the way of your success with others. If you suspect that any of these habits are sabotaging your own public relations, take counter-measures immediately. Grow purposefully self-conscious. Police yourself by watching how you behave in front of others and their reactions to you. Encourage your friends, family and trusted colleagues to point out any annoying mannerisms you may possess. Accept their criticism gracefully, work on them and you will stamp out the “executive gremlins” in your life.