The hardest part of any job is managing, developing, and influencing the people who matter to the results. Everything else can be learned over time to the specific standards of the company or industry. Or, if key  tasks are not part of our talent set, we can change our job or company. What doesn’t change is the fact that people are in every work environment and rarely so perfectly attuned to our desired interaction.

When the people part is going well, it recedes into the background of the “real” work. When it’s not going well, it makes us a little crazy.

And, when we are people-challenged, we automatically tend to:

  • Focus on what the other person should be doing.
  • Insert our own anxiety, upset, or angry energy to the mix—on a scale from mild to spicy.
  • Engage others who will reinforce our own perspective .
  • Launch into either a “telling” strategy or a “making it happen” strategy.

Our unconscious influencing is often based on how we would be motivated or our surface understanding of the person.

This week I had two clients give me feedback that was music to my ears. In asking about achievements, the person said  “My most important learning has been a deeper understanding of myself.” And indeed, that learning is fundamental to their ability to think more deeply about the people who matter to their particular results. Both people also acknowledged that they see the results sliding over into their personal lives. More music.

Three Paths to Understanding

There are (at least) three paths to gaining deeper self-understanding that can be  incorporated into personal development.

  1. Observing and reflecting on our actions and emotions—slowing down and taking time with our Self.
  2. Diagnosing our life-work experience—successes, failures, and mere mistakes.
  3. Getting underneath our “wiring”—to really see how we get hooked into behavior that creates problems for ourselves.

It’s that understanding that allows us to first be forgiving of ourselves and then be empathic toward others. How can we think clearly and strategically if we don’t have some empathy for the people who are difficult for us?

This week when you observe the people who give you trouble, turn your attention to your Self.

  • What is in my background that “grounds me”in this? My family? My raising? My experience?
  • What are my standards? My beliefs?
  • How does this situation threaten me? What do I care about?

Slow and calm your response down with your self-understanding, so that you can focus on the other person and your clear intention for the situation.