Build Constructive, Not Destructive Relationships

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

Interpersonally competent people are self aware, know how to build strong lasting relationships with others and are good at resolving conflict in a positive manner.  An article that appeared in the Wednesday May 9 Business Day section of The New York Times made this point ever so clearly.

“On March 23, Andrew N. Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, wrote a scathing performance review about one of his top lieutenants.

“‘I expect to see that your negative body language when you disagree with a course of action is eliminated,’ he wrote to the executive, Romeo Kreinberg, who ran the $21 billion performance plastics and chemical business portfolio.  ‘Frankly, your recent behavior was the last straw and I will not allow such destructive behavior to be repeated.’

“Mr. Liveris gave Mr. Kreinberg three months to change his behavior.  Otherwise, he warned, ‘I will have no choice but to sever your links with Dow.’”

From the sounds of it, Mr. Kreinberg is a poster boy for interpersonal incompetence.  “Negative body language”…“destructive behavior” – it would have been fun to be a fly on the wall in the meetings that led up to Mr. Liveris’ performance review. 

In my experience, people who are so blatantly unaware (or uncaring) of the impact of their behavior on others, very seldom end up running $21 billion businesses.  Most never make it past the level of individual contributor or first level manager.

There is a simple, but powerful common sense point here.  If you can’t build and maintain strong relationships with the people in your organization; and if you can’t learn to deal with conflict in a positive manner, you are unlikely to be a career and life success.  Successful people realize that they have to continue working with the people with whom they find themselves in conflict.  They accept decisions that go against them graciously.  They pitch in and help make decisions work; even if they argued strenuously against those decisions before they were made.

Interpersonally competent people avoid “negative body language” and “destructive behavior” – for the good of their company, and the good of their careers. 

By the way, Mr. Liveris fired Mr. Kreinberg three weeks later for a non related issue – being “involved in unauthorized discussion with third parties about the potential acquisition of the company.”

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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