Ask the person on the street what it means to be people smart, and you are bound to hear many who have this picture: “Oh, that’s a person who is really a smooth operator . . . a person who knows how to get others to join his side.” A different picture you might hear is someone who is “personable . . . friendly . . . fun to be with.”
While few people would complain about having those attributes, they represent a very limited view of what it means to be gifted with people. Being people smart is a multi-faceted competence. It is not limited to our skills or our social graces but includes a wide range of abilities.
People smarts is about that aspect of emotional intelligence that is best called “interpersonal intelligence.”When you consider how important interpersonal effectiveness is, it also makes sense to build the PQ or “people quotient” of your workforce.
What makes up someone’s PQ (people quotient)? Consider these questions:
Are your employees good at. . .
• Understanding people?
• Expressing their thoughts and feelings clearly?
• Speaking up when their needs are not being met?
• Asking for feedback from others and giving them quality feedback in return?
• Influencing how others think and act?
• Bringing conflicts to the surface and resolving them?
• Collaborating with others as opposed to doing things by themselves?
How these questions are answered determines someone’s PQ. People with high PQ excel in the following eight areas. How do your people stack up?
1. Understanding People
People with high PQs listen actively, empathize with another’s feelings, and acknowledge his or her viewpoint. That not only helps them to be appreciated but also works to draw out information they need to figure out what makes the other person tick. They ask questions to clarify what someone is saying when communication is unclear. They also realize that understanding others goes beyond the words they speak. They know how to interpret the unspoken. Finally, they are expert at reading other people’s style and motives.
2. Expressing Themselves Clearly
People with high PQs know how to get their message across so it’s understood. When people go on and on to make a point, they simply have no effect on other people. High PQers get to the point when brevity is required, yet give just enough detail so that other people are not confused. They can also sense when the other person has not understood them and can quickly rephrase what they are saying.
3. Asserting Their Needs
High PQers know that they have to be their own person. They have to have limits and establish those limits. If they try to be all things to all people, they’ll wind up disappointing others. They also are straightforward with their wishes. Hinting at what they need from others only leads to disappointment and frustration. Once that happens, they often become angry with others and lose the calm and confidence they need to be at their best. People with high PQs are able to remain calm and confident, even when others try to provoke them and push their emotional buttons.
4. Seeking and Giving Feedback
High PQ individuals are open about their reactions to others. They are able to give feedback easily and do it in such a way that the other people don’t become defensive. They also know that it is smart to get in the habit of asking for feedback themselves. If feedback is withheld, it’s as though the person has blinders on. Without feedback, they’re left wondering what the other person is thinking about them.
5. Influencing Others
A high PQ is evidence of someone’s ability to motivate others to action. High PQers are also people others come to for advice. They are able to connect with others, unearth their needs, reduce their resistance to new ideas, and persuade effectively.
6. Resolving Conflict
High PQers are exceptional conflict resolvers. They get the subject right out on the table. They figure out what’s bothering the other person. They are especially adept at negotiating differences and working out creative resolutions to problems.
7. Being a Team Player
High PQers are team players. They work more to advance the group’s goals rather than their own. They also know how to complement the styles of others, coordinate the efforts of team members without bossing them around, and build consensus.
8. Shifting Gears When Relationships Are Stuck
Finally, high PQers are flexible and resilient. While they have an inner core and a predominant style of dealing with people, they also understand that there are different strokes for different folks. They realize that one of the ways to get a stuck relationship to change is to change the way they behave in it. They know how to get out of old patterns and unfreeze situations that have previously been frozen shut.
KEEP IN MIND:All your employees need to be people smart. No matter what someone’s function is, everyone in today’s workforce is in the people business! It used to be said that some people were in the business of working with people and some of us were in the business of working with facts, figures, and machinery. But the people business is no longer the domain of the few. It now includes everyone.