I keep hearing that the most important thing to be successful in business is the ability to build relationships with people. But here is the problem: I don’t like people. I think people are fundamentally untrustworthy and corrupt.
I am in veterinary school so I can take care of animals, which I much prefer to people. What to do?
Not Excited about People
Dear Not Excited about People,
You made me laugh out loud which makes me like you immediately. So there. I laughed because I so get it. I really do. I was just saying to my husband that I am pretty sure that between 20 random dogs and 20 random people I would probably like more of the dogs.
People are tough; there is no question. However, you can’t be in business without them—so you are going to have to extend yourself just a touch. First, you will want to find someone who is extremely competent and warm to manage the front end of your business. The airlines hire for “highly developed interpersonal skills” when staffing the lost luggage desk, because being able to tolerate working with long lines of aggravated, exhausted people is the number one requirement for that job. You want that same temperament in the person who manages your customers and, of course, you.
Secondly, I guarantee that if you simply formulate the intention to do so, you can find something to like—or at the very least, respect—in almost every person. When I find myself tested, I remember the words of Margie Blanchard, who co-founded our company. Dubbed the “Dalai Nana” by her grandson, Margie believes: Everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment, given their present level of understanding. Keeping this idea in mind will help you to be more patient. Also, it is important to realize that every person has a story that would break your heart if you only knew it.
Maybe take a cue from my personal vet—I am quite certain he only tolerates us because he knows we love our dogs and would do anything for them, and that works for me. Also, the lady who runs his practice couldn’t be nicer. I always look forward to seeing her.
You can only do your best misanthrope. All you really need to do in the long run is be extremely competent at your job and civil to folks. It just so happens there was a lovely essay in the Sunday NY Times this past week on the topic of how animals can bring out the best in people. It may speak to you and open your heart just a little. In any case, find someone who does like people to help you—and go forth and be a great vet. Animals need you!
About the author
Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!