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When I started at Zions Management, I was feeling concerned about my ability to manage relationships.  After all, I had just completed two jobs where my supervisors’ boss told me I “severely lacked the ability to read body language” and in the other case “did not possess the decorum for the amount of money we pay you.”

Shortly after I started, I met an incredible woman who had all the people skills I lacked. I would go to her for feedback and soon began to realize that I did have people skills, I just needed to use them and think about others more than about what others thought of me.

After our department at Zions was disbanded,  I stayed in touch with my “people mentor” and the other day she sent me a file which she had written to her brother about people skills and it’s too good not to pass on.  It’s really long so I’ll parcel it out and add comments in some sections.  It helped me to crystalize some of the skills I’ve learned from her.

Here is what we’ll be covering over the next little while – (it’s the intro to the file)

Here is a brain dump of things I’ve learned over the years. Some concepts you are already practicing and will resonate with you. Other concepts may make you uncomfortable or you may disagree with completely. Either way is fine – in the end, we must all decide what is right for us.

These are the concepts I find to be the most important in my life and relationships:

  1. Listening is far more important than sharing our own thoughts and opinions.
  2. Don’t violate others’ space.
  3. Mistakes are a necessary part of life; the key is to learn from them.
  4. Feedback is a gift.
  5. Everyone has strengths; make the most of yours and use them to your advantage.
  6. Everyone has weaknesses; identify them, admit them, then do something about them.
  7. We are responsible for recognizing and facing our own demons; trying to shield others from theirs robs them of their learning opportunities.
  8. Tread lightly on new relationships.
  9. Treat old relationships with respect.
  10. Decide: Are they “acts of kindness” or “acts of obligation”?
  11. Flattery doesn’t help anyone.

I wish I could say that I figured all these things out without pain to myself or others, but I cannot. More than I care to admit have been learned the hard way.  The rest of this letter provides details of what I have learned.

I often tell my kids that it pays to learn from others lessons, it saves you pain.  This is one of those times.  I’m looking forward to your comments and responses.