What if you don’t like people so much?

22Jun09

Not long ago I ran across a cartoon that I shared with an executive client of mine because it so accurately captured her.  In the cartoon, one business person says to another, “I like people.  Just not very many of them.”  My client laughed out loud. 

This blog is about making work work.  Making work work for you, the individual, starts with finding work that fits your values, fits who you are, fits how you like to work.  In corporations, people work together.  When someone at a party sees us talking to a co-worker and then later asks us, “how do you know that guy?”, we respond, “we work together”.   See.

Yes, I know there are corporations that are made up of folks who work in isolation or with only one or two others.  But most corporations are social entities where widespread interaction is not only expected, but is the way you get things done.  “People” people define corporations.  

Corporations are not going to morph into quiet societies of artists and genuises who labor in closed quarters, in sweet solitude.   Close quarters, not closed quarters is the corporate way.  In fact, if you read the research on millenials (Gen-Y’s), the young people entering the workforce want, need and demand lots of interaction.  Of course, with the economy being what it is, the articles about what millienials demand have pretty much disppeared.

But, what if interacting exhausts you?  And, collaboration is absolutely draining?  Well, you might think that going into a solitary profession like author, or artist or private practice of any kind would be the answer.  It can be.  But, you still have to interact to get your book published, your art promoted, your consulting services contracted.   Your work will not speak for, nor sell itself. 

manaloneinfield photo from office.microsoft.com

If you intend to remain in a corporation and you don’t like interacting, then you, more than anyone, need to be part of a team.  You need people who value your strengths, who like you, complement you, and who will carry some of the “social” load for you.  The catch is, you have to do something for them in return.  You have to carry something they find terribly heavy.   It’s work.

The client I referred to in my opening is a successful, top executive in a large, global company.  She devotes energy to reciprocity – she makes certain she is a great teammate to the vital few people who make work work for her.

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One Response to “What if you don’t like people so much?”

  1. Fine post, Margaret. One thing I tell my clients is that you sometimes need to develop systems to handle the things you don’t do so well. If you don’t naturally remember birthdays, set up a reminder system. If you don’t match names and faces easily, learn a simple memory technique. In the end, human beings will judge you by what you do, not so much by how you did it.


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