People Skills at Work: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Without good people skills, things can go wrong and get ugly very easily. It is only natural that when dealing with numbers of people, conflicts or misunderstandings will occasionally arise. Not everyone will have the same approach, attitude or perspective as you. However, with specific training in people skills it can help individuals to manage those conflicts and build a more cohesive team environment in which to work.

The Ugly – “What works against your team’s success?

Competitive targets, jealousy, mistrust and pressure can bring out the worst in people.  In environments like this, something has to change. A team where there is conflict, disrespect or unpleasantness will not be a cohesive or effective team and this will eventually spill over into how customers are handled.

Acclaimed leadership author John Maxwell has this to say about dealing with difficult people:

“When someone you don’t like or respect suggests something, what is your first reaction? I bet it’s to dismiss it. You’ve heard the phrase, “Consider the source.” That’s not a bad thing to do, but if you’re not careful, you may very likely throw out the good with the bad. Don’t let the personality of someone you work with cause you to lose sight of the greater purpose, which is to add value to the team and advance the organization. If that means listening to the ideas of people with whom you have no chemistry, or worse, you have a difficult history, so be it. Set aside your pride and listen. And in cases where you must reject the ideas of others, make sure you reject only the idea and not the person.” – John Maxwell

Remembering the purpose of your team can help you deal with conflicts or difficult people. When there is a shared focus on customers and serving them, it becomes easier to work together as a team. If you have one individual upsetting the harmony of your team be sure to tackle it. Ignoring it is basically accepting it.


The Bad – “What lets a team down?

In an ideal world, systems work flawlessly and customers are happy. Yet we all know that this is seldom the case. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. For example: 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 = 100 000, but 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 5 = 50 000. This shows the impact of just one person disrupting the team dynamics, or not pulling their weight.

When systems fail is often when people skills are most needed. It is easy to pass the blame on to the IT department, but what does that ultimately say about your organisation to the customer? If there is no teamwork between departments it means that no-one will take responsibility for the problem. The customer will most likely be sent from one department to the next, until they give up in frustration.

Support and encourage each person in your team to bring their best efforts to work everyday. Any moaning, whinging, complaining should be tackled head-on and positivity reinforced and rewarded.


The Good – “What makes a difference?

Often in training sessions you’ll see leaders slip out of the session just after the introductions have been made, but what message is this sending to the team? That they don’t need to learn? That the session doesn’t apply to them? Often when things are going wrong in a department it is because leaders have lost touch with their team and fail to lead by example. Many times it is overheard after a session “Well, management needed to hear that more than we did!”

I believe that there are always opportunities to learn more. And a leader who lives this gains more respect from their team. The same applies for leaders who invest time and effort in their team. People want to be accepted for who they are. When leaders take the time to get to know people in their team it helps to validate and make them feel valued.

Agents who have good people skills will be able to work better as part of a team. It’s simply this: When people are cared for they are more likely to care about others – this includes their co-workers and ultimately your customers too.

Foster a culture of caring, patience and empathy across your teams and this will benefit your customers.


Published On: 8th Jan 2015 - Last modified: 4th May 2018
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