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Treat People Like People, Not Roles

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 22, 2009

How do you feel when someone treats you as a role, rather than as a person? Think, for example, of the salesperson or customer service representative who treats you like a customer by reading their scripts to you over the phone or using obvious closing techniques before you are ready to buy. Or there’s the manager who treats you as a subordinate or even the parent who treats you like a child long after you’ve become an adult.

When we get into playing roles, we stop being authentic. If I believe I have to act like a manager, I will focus on myself and what I am doing or saying, rather than focusing on the person I am with. There are many roles managers attempt to play: There’s the "I’m smarter than you" role, the "I’m the boss" role, and the "I’m a great leader" role, to name just a few.

Not only do these roles diminish trust with employees, they decrease engagement, commitment, and productivity.

Only when I see myself as a person dealing with another person, no matter what our roles, can I focus on the needs of others and on creating value. What are you teaching your managers, salespeople, and customer service representatives… to play a role, or to build trust by being authentic?

Keith Ayers
Integro Leadership Institute
Sydney, Australia

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