Be Positive, Reliable and Easy to Get Along With

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things: 1) Get to know yourself, so you can better know others; 2) Build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life; and 3) Learn how to resolve conflict in a positive manner.

Recently, I was honored to be asked to serve on the editorial board of PM 360: The Full Spectrum of Product Management, a new print magazine devoted to product management in the pharmaceutical industry.  I’m also writing a monthly column called — what else — Common Sense.

The September 2008 issue arrived in my mailbox the other day.  As I paged through it, I found some great common sense advice on interpersonal competence at work in an article written by Camille Macchio entitled Four Myths and Truths of Success.

Myth 2 – “Skill and Knowledge Are the Keys to Success” resonated with me.  Camille writes…

“There is far more to a job than just showing up and completing your work.  Employers expect you to show up every day on time looking good, enthused and focused on the job at hand.  As basic as these expectations sound, it isn’t easy for many people to show up consistently in this manner.  I’ve never heard of anyone criticized for being too positive or too professional, but I’ve heard a lot of criticism about people who are negative unreliable and difficult to get along with.  You will have an advantage in life if you are dependable, professional, flexible and likeable.”

Camille makes a great point.  If you are “negative, unreliable and difficult to get along with,” you will have a difficult time building strong relationships and resolving the inevitable conflicts that come up at work.  On this other hand, if you are positive, reliable and easy to get along with, you’ll be able to build strong relationships and resolve conflict positively.

Like most things worth doing, you have to work at being positive, reliable and easy to get along with.  Stuff happens, some of it not so good.  However, interpersonally competent people find ways to get over the negative stuff and move on.  The first point of The Optimist Creed captures the essence of this quite well. 

“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” 

Easily said, harder to do, but very important if you want to become interpersonally competent.  If you let nothing disturb your peace of mind, you’ll be better able to be positive, reliable and easy to get along with.

By the way, if you want a copy of The Optimist Creed that you can frame and hang in your office or workspace, send me an email at with the words “Optimist Creed” in the subject line.  I’ll send you a .pdf.

The common sense point here is clear and simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people build and maintain strong, lasting mutually beneficial relationships with their colleagues and customers.  If you want to be able to build strong relationships, you need to be positive, reliable and easy to get along with.

That’s my take on interpersonal competence and the myth of skill and knowledge being the keys to success.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to comment, sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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