Today is my birthday! Birthdays are often a time for reflection, and after meeting my Great Niece for the first time this week, my reflections and thoughts turned to mushy softer issues. Business is hard core, cut throat, driven and ruthless. Without a dash of humility, we can lose sight of the fact that people run businesses with people and for people. Apart from being an admirable character trait, humility establishes strong business relationships and a reputation for genuine service.

Gratitude vs Attitude

Humility is about being grateful rather than displaying a sense of entitlement. How often do you take a step backwards and acknowledge the role that others play in your life? We should be grateful for our talents and skills, for opportunities that present themselves, for the support of family and friends, for the commitment and loyalty of the team and most importantly for the support of our customers and clients. Drop the attitude that you are doing your customers a favour!

Awareness vs Denial

People who are aware of and acknowledge both their strengths and their weaknesses build stronger relationships and are well regarded by their peers, team and clients. Nobody is perfect, and we shouldn’t pretend to be. You can only manage what you know. A company that welcomes feedback and constructive criticism becomes aware of perceptions in the marketplace, and they can put a plan in place to rectify what is sometimes a simple problem.

Ask vs Tell

No matter what position you have in your business, you will gain the respect of your stakeholders if you ask more questions and listen more than you talk! Asking questions shows a genuine interest in understanding the needs or challenges of your employees or clients. The more information you get, the more you can tailor your response to ensure you are providing a solution. If you can get your employee or client to come to their own conclusions without you prescribing what the solution is, you will get more buy-in.

Confidence vs Arrogance

People like working with others who know what they are talking about, but not with “know-it-alls”! There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence comes from people who speak from a place of knowledge, experience and belief in themselves, their product and their service. Confidence is inspiring. Arrogant people view themselves as superior and never admit mistakes or weaknesses.

We vs I

No one likes the “I-specialist” in the office. Yes, you need to take ownership and responsibility for your role in the business, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You are naïve to think that you can manage on your own. You need to acknowledge and engage the team behind you. The word “we” communicates a united force to your internal audience as well as your external customers.

At the end of a long week, take some time to focus on the softer issues within your hard core business environment.

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