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Presidential Politics, Assumptions and Interpersonal Competence

This is a career and life success blog, so I keep it apolitical.  However, yesterday I had an experience that I want to discuss here.  In order to discuss it properly, I need to reveal my political leanings.  You’ll see why… I was in midtown Manhattan yesterday.  A lot of Obama supporters were out soliciting support and contributions.  I’m a lifelong Democrat and have been a big fan of Senator Obama since I saw his talk at the 2004 Democratic convention.  There, now you know.  I’m supporting Obama for president. Who are you supporting?  Why?

This is a career and life success blog, so I keep it apolitical.  However, yesterday I had an experience that I want to discuss here.  In order to discuss it properly, I need to reveal my political leanings.  You’ll see why…

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I was in midtown Manhattan yesterday.  A lot of Obama supporters were out soliciting support and contributions.  I’m a lifelong Democrat and have been a big fan of Senator Obama since I saw his talk at the 2004 Democratic convention.  There, now you know.  I’m supporting Obama for president.

Who are you supporting?  Why?

Back to the story…

I walked by one of the campaign workers twice on my way to meetings yesterday.  Each time I attempted to make eye contact.  Both times he looked away and approached other people.  The third time I walked by him, he was with another campaign worker who spoke to me.
I stopped and had a conversation with the two of them.  We discussed Senator Obama’s campaign, and the fact that I live in Denver and am working hard to get tickets for his nomination acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium.  They both said that they would like to be there too.

Then I asked the campaign worker who did not approach me the first two times I passed him why this was so.  He said, “I don’t know.  You just didn’t look like a Democrat, I guess.”  I wasn’t exactly sure how a Democrat looks – but apparently I didn’t fit the mold in this guy’s eyes.

Have you ever completely misjudged someone because of his or her appearance?  Please share your story by leaving a comment.

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This brings me to the career and life success point I want make today.  Interpersonal competence is one of the success factors I discuss in my book “Straight Talk for Success.”  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to understand yourself and use this self knowledge to better understand others.  You also need to build strong relationships, and resolve conflict in a positive manner.

Assumptions are relationship killers.  They also make it difficult to resolve conflict positively.  Yesterday, I was wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and striped tie.  For whatever reason, the young campaign worker assumed that my conservative attire meant that I was conservative politically.  He was wrong.  He also lost an opportunity for a campaign contribution.

The common sense point here is simple.  Avoid making assumptions about the people you meet.  If you find yourself making assumptions, test them out by engaging other people in conversation.  You’ll probably be surprised by how appearances can be deceiving.  Assumptions are relationship killers.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to be able to build strong relationships with the people in your life.  Interpersonal competence is a key to become a success in your life and career.

That’s my take on appearances and assumptions – and the 2008 presidential campaign for that matter.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment letting me know what you think.  I welcome and encourage your comments.  I value every comment you leave.  They mean a lot to me. Thanks for reading.

Bud

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