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Interpersonal Skills: Pressure Relief Valve or Pressure Cooker?

In a management position, business success has more to do with interpersonal skills than technical skills. In Alan Loy McGinnis’ book Bringing Out the Best in People, he discusses promotions for:

  • Common labor positions are 90% dependent on technical knowledge and 10% on interpersonal skills
  • Supervisory positions are 50% dependent on technical knowledge and 50% on interpersonal skills
  • Executive positions are 20% dependent on technical knowledge and 80% on interpersonal skills

McGinnis addressed this almost complete switch in skills necessary as people rise higher in management to discuss the importance of interpersonal skills in business. It is a necessity that management personnel, especially business owners, have strong interpersonal skills.

In business we all face many pressures that can be brought on by deadlines, performance standards, creating new business, making critical decisions, making budget, etc. As we face these pressures we have to decide how we will let them affect our attitudes. If you own a business or are in a management position, it is important to ask:

When you deal with people, are you a pressure relief valve or a pressure cooker?

A pressure relief valve is a device which opens automatically when the pressure reaches a dangerous level. A definition of a pressure cooker is any situation, job, assignment, etc., in which a person is faced with urgent responsibilities or demands by other people, constant deadlines, or a hectic work schedule. (definitions from https://cllax.com/ )

Management personnel have the opportunity to be a pressure relief valve with their clients, employees, co-workers, and any management they report to. When someone has too much pressure on them, they are not as productive as they should be.

Be a pressure relief valve with these tips:

  1. Be observant – this is one of the basic interpersonal skills that is often overlooked. Make the effort to be observant enough to notice when someone is dealing with too much pressure. 
  2. Assess the situation – think through what might be causing the pressure. Is it something you did?  Is it something you can help with? Talk to the individual about it to make sure you fully understand what their perspective is.
  3. Take responsibility to solve the problem – everyone wants to work with people who take responsibility
  • Let your employees know that you want to help them solve the problem and see them succeed. Does your employee feel inadequate to meet a deadline or meet the performance standard?  Do they need more training?  Do they need to work as a team with someone else?  Are they putting unnecessary pressure on themselves? Maybe they just need a word of encouragement and a reminder of their previous success dealing with similar issues. Do not underestimate the power of affirming an employee and letting them know that you believe in their capabilities.
  • Is there a way you or your product/service can relieve your client’s pressures?  Do you know of an article or another company that offers a solution that you might not?  If you focus on solving your client’s problems/pressures, they will gladly do business with you. However, if your clients feel high pressure from you, they will put up walls of resistance and possibly avoid you like the plague.
  • If you have a boss, find ways to relieve their pressures. It will not go unnoticed.
  • Find ways to relieve your co-worker’s pressures. Your clients, employees, and boss are way more likely to expect you to relieve their pressures than your co-workers. You typically will not financially benefit from helping a co-worker.  However, they will greatly appreciate you doing so and will gladly help you with any of your future needs.

What other interpersonal skills or tips have you found helpful in being a pressure relief valve?

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Hello there. My name is Stanislav and I live in USA St. Petersburg, FL. I am is a technical writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of mobile application development and IoT technology.

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