Some famous sage (or was it Rose Lombardo?) once said, “You attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.” This pretty much says it in all of our dealings with people. Like animals, human beings need for air, water, food, and shelter (and possibly sex to procreate but not for fun.) After that, there is a whole raft of needs that we have as human beings that make us happy and productive.
We’re going to keep these in mind as we develop our interpersonal skills repertoires on our way to becoming charming Supergeeks. All of the interpersonal skills I’m going to talk about are based on satisfying these wants in others.
I’ve broken these wants down into four basic categories. If you can find more, by all means, add them to your list. Mine are:
Recognition (and the avoidance of disgrace)
When you were a child, did you ever watch ants making a trail across a countertop, carrying back grains of sugar and small morsels of bread, endlessly moving back and forth? What they were thinking? Do they have little ant families back home with little wives and little ant children who go to ant school? Do they cry when a brother ant is squished on the heel of a shoe?
Based on the assumption that ants don’t have conscious thought, the answer is to all of those questions is “no”. Ants don’t crave individuality, to be thought well of, to be valued, to be special, to have pride. But human beings do have these desires. We want to feel like “somebody,” that our contribution to the universe is worthy, that we were put on this earth for a purpose, that we’re important, that we have a place and role in the universe. We want to be recognized as the special being that we are. We want to feel useful, that we matter, that our life amounts to at least a hill of beans.
When you make someone feel important, you’re satisfying a basic human desire and they will like you for it. When you cause someone to feel shame, they don’t like you and they want to get away from you (unless they’re really masochistic or went to Catholic school and they seek out the feeling of shame.)
Praise (and the avoidance of blame)
Do you remember those moments when the boss or a teacher singled you out for having done an outstanding job? Man, that felt good. For a moment you felt pretty good about yourself and your abilities. We all like praise. But you also know the feeling of being blamed for something or feeling like you are to blame. Not good.
Praise is a very powerful thing and it’s not expressed enough. Real, meaningful praise is so easy to do and so much appreciated but folks just don’t practice it enough. Not flattery, but recognizing others for doing good things from “your lawn looks great, how do you do it?” to “you’re really saved me on the Evans account. Thanks.” We function best when we’re regarded positively. You do, I do.
Pleasure (and the avoidance of pain)
Why do they put a pretty girl’s picture on the webpage as the customer service rep when it’s really a middle-aged guy in the Phillipines? We’re all looking for Shangri-la, where all of our needs are met, where life is beautiful. Why do you think heaven is such a big draw when it comes to religion?
Gain (and the avoidance of loss)
We’re all looking to get ahead. Rose also said, “Fly with the eagles or cackle with the crows.” Most of us want a better job, more status, more things, financial security.