Basic Black for Interpersonal Competence

This is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

  1. Interpersonally competent people are self aware.  They understand themselves and their impact on others.  They use their self awareness to increase their understanding of others.
  2. Interpersonally competent people build solid, long lasting mutually beneficial relationships with the people in their lives.
  3. Interpersonally competent people are able to resolve conflicts with a minimal amount of problems and upset to relationships.

I have just finished reading a great book, full of common sense advice for career and life success.  It’s called Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life).  Cathie Black, President of Hearst Magazines, is the author.

I really like this book.  If you’re serious about career and life success, you need to read it.  Ms. Black shares the story of her amazing life and career.  She tells you what she’s learned along the way.  Savvy readers will read with a highlighter to take advantage of the common sense wisdom she imparts.

The book starts strong with a great story about her first job, where she inadvertently left the original of her resume on the copier machine at work and got a call from a senior executive at the company who found it.  It ends strong too.  The last paragraph reads:

·        “And that’s the final piece of advice I’d like to leave you with.  Opportunities will come – they always do.  Trust yourself enough to jump at them.  Never be afraid to go for it.  And remember, you deserve to have the best life, and the best career, that you can have.”

In between, Ms. Black shares her thoughts on such important topics as: Drive, Risk, People, Fear, Power, Passion, Attitude and Leadership.  I like this book so much, I am going to blog about it every day this week.

On page 85, Ms. Black presents a great quote; “Don’t personalize things that aren’t personal;” great advice on building strong relationships and in resolving conflict positively.

I love this advice, and offer it to my coaching clients quite often.  I don’t know why, but there is something in human nature that seems to make people want to look for sinister motives in innocuous behavior.  Many people view everything that happens to them and around them from a personal viewpoint.

In the book, Ms. Black tells the story of an executive at Hearst who complained that she was excluded from a meeting to which she thought she should have been invited.  Ms. Black’s advice? “Go to the meeting.  Assume it was an oversight.”  Again, this is some more great common sense advice. 

I’ll take it one step further – assume the best in other people.  Last Friday, I posted about Dan an angry air traveler, and his advice for dealing with people who recline their seat and make you uncomfortable.  All of Dan’s advice assumed that the person reclining his or her seat was knowingly attempting to make him (or you) uncomfortable.  That is not assuming the best in other people.

If you assume that the person who reclines his or her seat on a crowded airplane is doing so in order to make himself or herself more comfortable (and not you uncomfortable), you are more likely to be able to get him or her to move the seat into a more upright position.  In other words, if you assume the best in others, your assumptions are likely to be proven true.  Also, if you assume the worst in others, your assumptions are also likely to be proven true.

On last thing here.  People who personalize everything are pretty narcissistic.  They think that other people base what they do on how it will impact them.  This simply isn’t true.  Most people go through the day doing the best they can at what they do.  Sometimes what they do will have a negative impact on you.  When this happens, don’t take it personally.  Discuss it with them without accusing them.  You’ll be surprised at how often things will get resolve amicably.

I’ve based all of my posts this week on the common sense wisdom in Cathie Black’s new book, Basic Black.  This book offers great advice for anyone interested in becoming a career and life success.  I urge you to buy and read this book.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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