When you are deciding who to give your business to, how do you decide? What traits are most important to you?
Is knowledge of the product or service important? Of course. But this is a given, for you would not trust someone to represent your interest if they lacked knowledge of the product or service. So, if you were selling a home, you would probably want a realtor who has knowledge of the area and who has sold homes like yours before. But would this knowledge alone be sufficient for you to hire her? Maybe, maybe not. You would prefer someone who has a proven track record, who has experience, although you recognize that to get experience requires that others be willing to be a part of that person’s training.
Is technical ability important to you? Do you prefer that someone be social media savvy? Is competence important to you? Depending on whether you are buying or selling, and the exact product or service you are buying or selling, may determine the importance of these areas to you.
There is one area that supersedes all others. That area is what I refer to as human capital, which is a professional word for “people skills.” This is often referred to as “soft skills,” but I do not use “soft skills “as a descriptor. In American society there is a ranking order for “hard skills,” which is technical and professional skills, and “soft skills,” which is human skills, such as relationship building skills. Soft skills are often not considered as important as hard skills. I maintain the opposite opinion. If one has technical ability yet lacks relationship building skills, she will not be effective in many situations.
Being able to communicate with and get along with all types of people gives one a clear advantage over those who lack this ability. This is more important today than ever before in our world of increasing diversity.
Do you make eye contact well and easily? Do you smile? Do you engage others in conversation about themselves? Do you show gratitude for what others have done for you, such as writing warm and specific thank you notes? Do you put your phone and computer down and connect with others? Do you ask good questions, and listen well to the answers?
These examples are just a starting point for describing human capital, or human skills. How well do they describe you?
Thankfully, it is never too late to change our behavior, although behavior change is one of the hardest changes to make. If we want to improve our relationship building behavior, we can.
If we do not want to, we won’t.