The Lost Art of People Skills
Posted on 10th February 2015
I wouldn’t really call myself a people person. I don’t like forced networking events, I’m not a big lover of parties and I’m not that keen on socialising with people I don’t know.
That said, when it comes to mixing with other people, I’m like Del Boy once described Rodney…
Him! Mixing! He’s like a Kenwood Chef when he gets going!
It doesn’t help that the older I get, the less tolerant I become. I’m not talking UKIP style “block up the channel tunnel and get rid of the lot of them! ”. I’m talking about a dearth of patience to put up with plain old idiots.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m shit at a LOT of things. But, I do find myself wondering how some of the people I meet even manage to tie their shoe laces up in the morning.
In my business work life as Click 71, I obviously have to meet people, pitch for work and the like and I’ll tell you what worries me for future generations…
The loss of old fashioned business etiquette
Not bowler hats and bows ties; I’m talking about plain old fashioned hand-shaking and talking and lunching and meeting face-to-face.
I’ve had people that won’t return my calls after a meeting to give me the bad news – just tell me no man! It’s almost as if some ‘business’ people don’t have the balls unless they can hide behind an email.
I once went to a business launch event and met a person who ran a networking group in Basingstoke at the time. Words I would use to describe the encounter include anti-social, rude and bell-end.
And you want me to come along, stand up and talk for five minutes to a room of people like you – I’d rather stand naked in the market square, ringing a bell telling people what I do for a living while groups of teenagers laugh at my ding-a-ling.
But it’s no laughing matter youngsters
If I can pass on any advice to my children before I die, it would be that they need to be ace at communicating. That they need to get in the mix, meeting different types of people in different situations and learn how interaction happens when your’e not doing it on a handheld device.
They’ll have a lot more opportunities in life if they can be great with people.
There are only TWO twenty-something business people in Basingstoke I’ve met in the past five years who have ‘it’ – an old school mentality of dealing with people. And one of them’s bloody left now.
Meanwhile, once a month I go to a lunch club that is made up of various business people, the majority of whom are now retired. Apparently, I’m the youth policy because they’re all dying off. These guys are the solicitors, accountants and professionals of Basingstoke who set it up in the 1970s. They know how to mix instinctively because this is how they did business – not by email or Skyping.
I love a good business lunch like that. I like chatting, getting to know someone and if work comes up it comes up, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.
The last lunch I went to saw me finally leave to go home at 7pm. Try as I might, the wife was not impressed with my witty banter, even me telling her that I am THE hunter gatherer, because I’d bought home Chinese. (I know how to turn on the charm.)
The problem is this. Too many people think they’re too busy to move from behind their desk and meet people. To take them for lunch and chat. They hide behind email and social media and are becoming socially disabled. I meet far to many people who either lack confidence or come across very brash to think otherwise.
Yes, technology is great for communication. But, when body language and tonality make up over 90% of any communication you can’t beat an old fashioned face-to-face where you can react and converse in a much more engaging way. It’s how relationships are made.
So, get out from behind the desk. Take a client out to lunch. Just remember one thing. When you are meeting people – whether in business or socially – play it nice and cool son, nice and cool, you know what I mean.