But we often forget that the kingpins of business are still people. Customers and clients, investors and negotiators, employers and employees, are all people. Ordinary and extraordinary people, people of different cultures, young and old, male, female and uncertain. And without knowledge of people and what makes them tick, we cannot be successful.
A prolific ageing writer was asked for his key to success. He mentioned hard work and dedication but ended the interview with an adamant statement: “If you don’t have some love for people in your heart, you cannot write.”
Business – and life for that matter – revolves around relationships. And relationships are not only with family and loved ones. When you get behind the wheel, you enter into a series of relationships with fellow road users – which, on some roads, could be a matter of life and death.
Without a basic interest in people, I believe, business cannot succeed. Whether it concerns superiors or subordinates, your understanding of the people that share your day, impacts on your mood, your thought processes and ultimately your productivity and happiness.
We all know that people differ – but do we take different temperaments into consideration when we interact with others? We all talk and act from our own frames of reference, our own mindsets and ways of thinking. Few are gifted with enough patience to outlast a normal day. I have discovered that knowledge of myself – that is, my temperament, strengths and weaknesses – is the first step to survival.
The second crucial step is to understand other people – their temperaments, shortcomings and ways of thinking. I use this knowledge when I interact with them and try to shape my thinking and acting with their temperaments in mind. This takes conscious practice (and sometimes hard work and a lot of tongue biting…) but it pays off in successful relationships and far more peace of mind for myself.