Hone Your People Skills to Win the Day

What does it take to achieve success and influence? Some people think that in today’s hypercompetitive world, it’s the tough, take-no-prisoners type who comes out on top. But in reality, argues New York Times best-selling author Dave Kerpen, it's actually those with the best people skills who win the day. 

In The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want (Crown Business, 2016), Kerpen writes that individuals who build the right relationships and who understand and connect with their colleagues, customers and partners are those best equipped to teach, lead and inspire.

The author believes that in order to operate in a world where we are constantly connected, getting ahead is often contingent on being the person others like, respect and trust because—no matter who you are or what position you’re in—success is determined less by what you can do for yourself and more by what other people are willing to do for you. 

Kerpen’s book offers 53 counterintuitive tips to help build connections, gain influence and help others. He maintains that people skills help not only at work but also in life and relationships.

Among his recommendations: recruit three to five people to serve as your personal advisory board. Kerpen got this idea from Dorie Clark, a personal branding consultant and a friend of his, who recommends that everyone—not just CEOs—form their own advisory board.

Once you’ve identified your advisors, Kerpen recommends getting the group together three to six times a year with the specific goal of helping you in your career by focusing on whatever specific objective you have at the time. At each meeting, present one or two challenges you’re working on and have each advisor offer their insights. 

“Find people who have succeeded in areas you’d like to succeed in one day,” Kerpen says. Having multiple smart, accomplished people supporting you “magnifies the power of each person’s experiences,” he adds.

More advice from the book:

  • Don’t hold yourself accountable. Instead, have an accountability partner. Your partner is accountable for you and vice versa. You are more apt to work harder if you’re concerned about letting someone else down. When writing his book, Kerpen would live-stream himself writing so he wouldn’t procrastinate.
  • Get “high” before a big meeting. Use small acts of kindness and gratitude to get “high” all day and especially before an important meeting or presentation. Write a thank-you note, express gratitude, extend a kind gesture whenever there’s an opportunity. Watch how your mood and outlook improves.
  • Always accept a glass of water when it’s offered. Why? Two reasons: First, it puts you at ease and allows you to relax, cool off, warm up and get ready for the interaction; and second, and more importantly, it puts the other person at ease, makes them feel like a good host, and primes you to be able to reach him or her.
  • Use the word “fantastic” to draw people in. Try answering “How are you?” with the word “Fantastic!” and watch the effect and change it has on people. Add the word “imagine” to your daily vocabulary, too, and watch people as they stop and actually process it.
  • Integrate “business you” with “personal you” online. Rather than trying to create boundaries between personal and professional and online and offline, harmonize them. You’ll find your authentic voice.
  • Find a way to stand out at networking events and when meeting new people so that you are memorable. For example, Kerpen always wears orange (usually his shoes or tie).

Dave Kerpen@DaveKerpen on Twitter, is an entrepreneur, speaker, best-selling author and the founder of two companies and CEO/founder of Likable Local, a social media software company.

Originally posted on the SHRM Book Blog.



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