Interpersonal skills still vital in our online culture

Highly knowledgeable, technically oriented people are part of the creative force needed to enable a company to compete and succeed in today’s rapidly changing business world. The future belongs to enterprises that add value for their customers and support offerings that turn on markets. When young people take over, the emerging connected, collaborative, and innovative new culture will create team- and customer-focused people.

Unfortunately, many technical people are not business savvy — they are often inward-driven folks who are neither team (internal) nor external customer-focused. What’s more, they sometimes think they are customer-centered because they took a course in college and got a passing grade. Problem is, they were trying to pass an exam, not change on the inside — which is exactly what is required today.

Email vs. interpersonal

This is a story I have heard all too often in our Dale Carnegie Training programs over the past few years. You have two people who work in cubes that are right next to each other. For one reason or another, a conflict between them has come up and they are emailing back and forth like maniacs, pressing their own respective points of view.

The “aha” moment occurs when one of them decides to stand up and walk around to the other person’s space and have a face-to face discussion to work things out in person. They are almost always surprised at how much easier it is to get a mutually acceptable solution when this step is taken. To many, this would be common sense. For many of those we have worked with, this is a new idea. It seems to be a lot easier to text than talk.

In cases where you have remote employees with the same kind of issue, it would be impossible to have a face-to-face discussion. In that case, why not a phone call or whatever else it takes to have a real conversation?



We have heard of this same kind of scenario taking place with external customers as well. If you are supposed to be customer-focused, the only way to do it effectively is to be customer-engaged. And that does not mean using technology in a less-than-person-centered way.

We all see people texting in their cars in traffic and people who stay at home and play with their iPads instead of getting together with others and actually talking. Emails can be arrogant and toxic. So many people want to Google “interpersonal skills” rather than develop them. People skills are an inner game, not an information-gathering or academic one.

It is important to take a deeper look at your staff, culture, and business to determine what you want and what is really going on.

Are your people really listening to customers — both external and internal?

Are your people engaging or turning off each other and your customers?

Do you have a development culture that brings out the inner change required?

Engage your people with the customer and help them develop the people skills necessary to compete. Your business and career depend on it.

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