I’m reading the book, Have a Nice Conflict by Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson, and Kent Mitchell. It is a fable about a sales manager who is experiencing interpersonal challenges which are getting in the way of his career, the productivity and employee retention of his team. We journey with him as he works with a coach/mentor who helps him understand himself and others so that he can be in better relationships and more effectively eliminate or manage conflict. The authors quote Theodore Roosevelt as saying “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” Wow! So, if this is true, the best thing we can do for ourselves to ensure success it to get along with people. For me, that speaks to the importance of building relational strength in all areas of life.
How many times when you were growing up did you hear something like, “I just wish you’d get along with each other”? I heard it often growing up with four siblings. (Is it just me??) It seems like getting along with others should be simple, yet our experience shows it’s not easy. When I reflect on my career (particularly early on), there were many times when a supervisor would suggest that I could stand to improve my interpersonal skills (professional code for “get along with people”). I would then sign up for a training/development program that was designed to help me change some of my behaviors, which would help, at least for a time. I’ve learned since then, that there are many reasons for the way I interact with and respond to people – a learned response from training, reacting out of pride, responding to the other based on a similar situation in my past, and a whole lot more. In order to be the best leader, husband, father, friend and “other” to someone else, we need to deal with things that are under the surface, not just those things we see.
In this book, the characters talk about understanding the intent or motivations that are underneath the behaviors that we see in ourselves and others, then choosing to respond out of that knowledge. If I could turn back the clock, I can only imagine how knowing and applying this one principle might have altered my career trajectory and, more importantly, my relationships at work and at home. Even if knowing how to get along with people isn’t the “single ingredient” to success, it has to be near the top of the list! It is definitely one that can be developed, if we choose to dig below the surface and do the work.