In today’s world, we come in contact with lots of people. Very often they come from different walks of life, have different ethnicities, have different roles, and so on. I’ve found that regardless of people’s backgrounds, I tend to seek out people with certain characteristics and steer clear of others. I can get along with almost everyone but there are just some traits I desire in relationships over others. I don’t think I’m alone here although different individuals have their own crowds they gravitate to.
I’ve written about your own personal brand and I put actions and consistency at the top of the list for behaviors that determine how others see you. That brand may represent different things though. Here are some of the traits that I look for in people who I like dealing with. Representative qualities of the brands I shop for in people.
Flexibility Everyone has priorities and points of view based on their life experiences and outlook. I don’t think I know anyone, though, that is such an expert that they shouldn’t look at a situation from a different angle. The ability to consider new inputs and factor them into a decision or discussion is important to me. It doesn’t mean that you need to agree with me, but it does mean that you’ll listen to what I have to say. Conversely, if you’re simply saying the same thing I am then the conversation will be bland. I prefer talking with someone whom I can learn from and who will consider what I’ve got to offer. Be willing to bend.
Retention Our relationship isn’t going to grow if it’s not important enough to track. It’s terrific when you catch up with someone and they remember a key detail about you. I know it makes me feel awesome when a friend throws out something that I’m not even thinking of from my past or references something I’ve done. I try to mix the odd factoid into a discussion as well so I can give the same feeling. It just makes connections tighter. Remembering when someone gets ahead or overcomes a hurdle shows you care about them doing well.
Unselfishness I’ve said a few times that I try to appreciate others’ successes and feel good for them. Even when you have a rival, it can be a healthy rivalry. A success is a success to me. If it’s mine then that’s fabulous. If it’s something one of my friends or colleagues has worked for then I can feel good for them too. The success may be a function of timing, effort, situation or dumb luck. A friend’s win is always a good thing and doesn’t mean that I’m any worse off for it.
Fairness and honesty Like I mentioned above, you don’t have to have the same views I do. It’s actually better if they don’t align 100%. Stand for what you believe in though and say it like it is. Keep it real. Don’t pull punches. Fill in the cliché. Let me know where I stand. Be even-minded and act with some logic even if there’s some righteous fire too.
Modesty Be proud of your own successes. I’m proud of mine. An accomplishment is something to celebrate. I’m not going to rub my own success in your face though. Don’t do that to me in an attempt to belittle me.
The converse is true as well. There are a few things that someone can do that turn me off instantly. There are repeated behaviors over time that will have the same effect. Either will take some work to dig out of with me.
Agendas An agenda, be it hidden or overt, runs contrary to what I look for in a person. If you have an agenda then you don’t respect my ideas and you’re not going to think or act fairly. The agenda may be self promotion, political, whatever. It’s almost certainly not to my benefit. As a result, I don’t want to be around you. The 2012 elections seem to be a low point for this. If your every tweet or status update is a story about the guy you like or hate then I’m not going to comment on it. I’m certainly not going to change your mind by arguing and I’m not going to be there just to parrot back a slanted view.
Dumping on me or my friends Granted this often is done by someone with an agenda, but not always. It usually has to do with a fundamental lack of respect or overinflated view of your own importance. At work, “It’s not my job” or “It’s above your pay grade” fall into this category. On a personal level, I’ve seen people treat others as if they’re there to serve them. Putting someone down for your own benefit is also something I can’t abide. I’ll notice if it’s me or a person I care about. How you treat an individual can change how everyone treats you.
None of these are absolutes. None of these make you a hero or villain in my eyes. I’m not going to hold a grudge based on a deed that was done under pressure for the right reasons or a momentary weakness. What you do influences your brand and consistently behaving the same way over time reinforces it. It’s the same as when I go to the grocery and pick up one box versus another. Some brands have more appeal based on what I expect.
The ramifications are either subtle or can be obvious. If you’re that person whose every communication says essentially the same thing and you’re trying to get me to change my mind without knowing what’s on it then we just aren’t going to be close. On the other hand, if you have an open mind and want to bounce an idea off me then accept a fair view then let’s keep talking. I’ve been fortunate to have some friends, family, and co-workers who fit the latter category. The others… Well, I just don’t spend too much time thinking about it.