People and Relationships are Complicated and Messy! - [website] Email Print
Published: 31st of Jan 2020 by: Carolyn Kessler

At the start of most workshops, I ask delegates to tell me what they enjoy about their job as well as what makes it hard for them to be effective. Then I ask them and what they downright hate, and why?

Without fail, the answers are usually pretty much alike.

What do they most enjoy about their jobs? Universal answer is: the people with whom they work. Their colleagues. Their customers...

What makes it hard for them to be effective? Universal answer is: the people with whom they work. Their colleagues. Their customers...

What do they hate about their jobs? You guessed it: it's the people with whom they work. Their colleagues... Their customers...

The fact is people and relationships are messy. Just when you think you have their measure, they surprise you - sometimes positively, but often negatively. Just bear in mind that you do that to those around too - we are all complex creatures, with unique patterns of behaviour.

Nine times out of ten, irrespective of their level of seniority within the organisation, they find people to be the most vexing, enjoyable and infuriating of creatures.

I fully understand what they are talking about.

When we dissected what they liked about the people at work, it was almost always the opportunity afforded them to gain people skills, make friends and gain knowledge. Even for introverts, the interaction was valuable, just on a smaller scale.

I asked why they felt these self-same people impacted negatively on their productivity. The main reasons given are always back biting and 'skinnering'. A close second is those team members who lack of knowledge of, or simply refuse to adhere to systems. Third is a variation in the methods different people employ to complete tasks.

When we collate this information it is clear that their answers centre strongly around trust. Every last one of the delegates polled felt threatened and angered by office politics, gossiping, lack of cooperation and a general dismissal of their opinions and contributions.

Untrustworthy managers, colleagues or team members are right at the top of the list when it came to which people are the hardest with which to work.

But this isn't limited to the work space. It's a universal principle. We like people who prove themselves trustworthy.

I've detailed a list of trustworthy behaviours:

• Do what you say you will do – keep promises. If you agree to have the report ready by 10am, make sure you do so. If you don't deliver on a promise – tell them why and explain how you’re going to fix it.
• Be transparent – your transparency will allow for others to drop their guards and be themselves with you.
• Don't be scared to apologise when you're in the wrong - this is a non-negotiable.
• Don't pass on information which has been confided in you - ever!
• Be consistent in your treatment of everyone on the team, not just those you like.
• If you make a mistake be open and honest with everyone and ask for help in remedying it.
• If you aren’t coping tell your colleagues and ask them for constructive feedback on how you can improve. Constructive feedback is non-judgemental. It is not criticism. Criticism is about pulling people down – feedback is about helping them to be better at what they do - free from judgement.
• Be seen as someone who is loyal. Loyalty is the hall mark of a truly trustworthy person.
• Tell the truth. If you don't know, say so. Then make an effort to find the answer.

These are just a few of the qualities which have been identified by our delegates in response to the final question: what do you value in the people with whom you engage at work. Together they spell integrity. Without integrity, nothing you do will be seen as honest and safe.

Staff Training is a South African soft skills training provider with more than 60 workshops on offer.

Email us at for more info or give us a call at 0861 996 660

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