I occasionally speak to groups of pastors and leaders of smaller churches. One of the things I tell them is that if they are not good working with people they will not be successful in a smaller church. In the small church everything depends on relationships. These churches are often called family churches because they function more like families than like organizations.
However, it really doesn’t matter what one does for a living. In most careers the ability to get along with people is crucial for success. A few years ago I encountered a problem with a sales manager of a business. He made some remarks that I considered inappropriate. I knew the owner of the business and sent him a letter explaining what occurred. Two days later the owner was in my office apologizing. He said he had often told his young sales manager that people like doing business with people they like, and he needed to work on his people skills if he wanted to be successful in that business. The following day the sales manager called to apologize. I’ve done business with him ever since, and today that sales manager owns that business.
John Maxwell wrote a book in 2004 that addressed this issue. The book is Winning With People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time. It is filled with practical principles to help anyone improve his or her people skills. One of my favorite chapters is called “The Bob Principle.” That principle basically states that if Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is usually the problem.
Haven’t you known Bobs? In their mind, everyone is against them. Everyone stabs them in the back eventually. They don’t trust anyone because sooner or later everyone lets them down. I know one lady who often complained about people who started out being her friend, but eventually they all did something that damaged the relationship. I eventually decided that she may have been the toxic person in those relationships, and it was the poisons she was carrying that damaged the relations she had with those people.
The good news is that Bobs can change. I’ve known some that made some major turn-arounds. The change begins when they realize that the problems they have with other people are not always the fault of the other people. Whenever there is a breakdown in a relationship we need to look in the mirror to see where we may have led to that breakdown. When we do find that we have some responsibility we need to take immediate action to change. We can begin by apologizing to the one we offended. Then we take whatever steps necessary to ensure we don’t do it again.
Learning new ways to win with people will always benefit us and those with whom we relate. Maxwell’s book could be a good place to start. Having a coach to help improve your people skills could also help. Whatever you need to do, find new ways to win with people.