One of the most interesting, and at times daunting, aspects of entrepreneurship is the continuous interaction with people. A client, an employee or a partner, an entrepreneur is always meeting someone. Managing people is as much an instinctive process as it is a set of principles and tactics. Some entrepreneurs are sometimes so engrossed in their ideas, that they assume the people will follow. That simply does not happen. Your people skills are almost as important as your technical skills to your work, more so if you are an entrepreneur.
The significance of having solid people skills goes beyond industry and profession. If you lead people, aspire to lead people, or work with a team, you need to put your people skills in application to achieve desired results. As an entrepreneur, it is only your people skills that will help convince your team that the vision you have for your start-up can be made tangible. It is important for every entrepreneur or potential entrepreneur to know that diplomacy and respect is crucial for individual and corporate success.
Here are the points you need to keep in mind:
1. Knowing How to Empathize with People
Having an ability to relate with people is crucial in business. Understanding the problems a particular employee or a client is facing, is possible only if you empathize with them and can see the situation from their perspective. But knowing when to chime in with a suggestion, or help, is something that should be dictated by the situation and instinct. Doing this right will help you forge strong relationships and help understand the motives of the various people around you. It can also help you predict how people may react to certain situations.
2. Communicating Articulately
This is probably the most basic of all people skills. It is all about your ability to persuade others of your ideas and to make sure that they are motivated about it. In an age where time comes at a premium, being articulate and clear in your communication is crucial.
When you begin speaking to people assuming that they are of the same opinion and mind-set as you, is when you begin to lose your grip on the communication. Try and be specific, and do not meander into unnecessary details. Over and above all, confirm whether your message has been conveyed.
3. Being Patient
Do not expect everyone around you to understand everything as fast as you, or exactly in the way you do. Ensure that you make room for opinions, and give time for ideas and opinions to settle in. Being overly aggressive in pushing your point may just create resentment. Blowing your top is never a solution and only serves to aggravate the situation.
4. Being a Good Listener
Active listening is almost as important as actively communicating. It helps in two ways – it tells the person across the table that you are invested in the conversation, and helps you get a clearer understanding of the other person’s needs. Active listening is very different to hearing what is being said. It will definitely take a little more effort, which is when you remember the point above, but is also definitely worth it.
5. Knowing When to Trust
Trusting one’s team is very important for an entrepreneur, almost as important as knowing when and whom not to trust. For example, when your usually efficient designer says that the layouts you requested will reach you in the evening instead of afternoon, you trust that they will. But if a defaulter on a previous payment tries to rope you in for another job, you operate with a significant trust deficit. Working without trusting who you work with is impossible, nobody can work in a vacuum. It is the art of knowing who and when to trust, that underlines your ethic as a leader.
An entrepreneur usually is juggling multiple priorities. This makes it harder to focus on the team you are working with. A good leader would make it a priority to be aware of the dynamics of the situation. Being aware is not a passive activity. It involves the individual knowing when to participate and when to withdraw gracefully. Being aware of the people you work with, or for, will give you an edge in your dealings with them.
Take an active interest in people. An entrepreneur with a new venture needs to always understand his audience. It is pretty much the same when dealing with people. Being a good entrepreneur depends on you being a good leader, and being a good leader is all about being a good people person.
It would be a waste to let your business suffer because you lack emotional intelligence.