I want to follow up Joshua’s comment that it’s high time we focus on the people side. What does that mean?

I ran into someone who described how he had handled a “people” issue. I’ll call him Joe. Joe believes he’s adept at handling people issues.

One of the people on Joe’s team had a strong body odor. I’ll call him Sam.

Joe found it unpleasant to pair with Sam, or be with him in a closed room.

At one of their team meetings, Joe commented that “personal hygiene is important.”

Surprisingly enough this comment didn’t lead Sam to change his personal habits.

Joe was really annoyed that Sam didn’t take the hint. He couldn’t take it any more. Joe also was mad that Sam was so dense that “he was forcing me to be harsh.”

Joe went out and bought a large can of deodorant. He walked up to Sam, handed him the deodorant and said “You stink. I can’t stand working with you, you smell so bad. Take a bath and use this.”

This is not a stellar example of dealing with people issues.

In my view, interpersonal skills start with self-awareness, self-management, and social skills.

Self-awareness is about being aware of your own internal state and knowing who shows up when you enter the room — how your behavior affects others. And it has to do with understanding your internal process in communication.

Self-management is about what you do with your internal state — not getting rid of emotions, but consciously choosing how you express your emotional state. You acknowledge the importance of your emotions, but you aren’t in the grip of them.

Social skills include empathy, the ability to navigate conflict effectively, give feedback respectfully, participate in groups and value differences.

These are the foundation for skills that help us build bonds and work collaboratively with others.