MY colleagues often ask me, “How do you do that? Getting people to support your ideas?” I guess they wonder because I am not a person with extraordinary abilities. Perhaps the only extraordinary thing about me is my persistence, since attempting to influence other people is a difficult task. Ask any salesperson and they will tell you that of 100 people they attempt to sell to, only five percent will buy their products.

Influencing the thoughts, feelings and actions of others to meet goals, whether personal or organizational, is known as social skills, which is the fourth dimension of emotional intelligence or EQ. A person with EQ competencies has greatly increased chances of succeeding at work and in life.

However, women, though they are seen as “social” beings, are sometimes excluded from the informal network of communication, especially at work. Organizations are generally still ruled by men and it is still the “boys’ club” that operates the social circles in the top echelons of the company. Thus, this forms an obstacle to women’s advancement at work as confirmed by a survey conducted in 1990 by Catalyst, a US based non-profit organization.

How can you overcome this handicap? It is not enough to socialize. This may not even be appropriate for women (you can’t just go out on a drinking spree with male colleagues without negative feedback). In truth, you don’t need to socialize. In fact, I hardly do. I keep my interaction with colleagues on a professional level. But I still am able to get the results I want.

How does this happen? The key is passion for work.  In my previous column, I discussed how you could discover or rediscover your passion in life by identifying the one thing that you believe in, that you want to do and that you can be best at. Once you have done so, you will find that your passion will ignite or connect with other people’s passions to keep an eternal flame of synergy at work and in life.

Let me illustrate this law of nature. When I have an idea I want to “sell” to a colleague, I first try to discover what is his passion in life. What is his dream for his company? What is it that he wants most to happen in his life? And then, I brainstorm with him on how I can help him fulfill his passion in life and offer my help without any strings attached.  Amazingly, as I rack my brains to try to help that person achieve his dreams, it usually turns out that what he wants to do is also the something that can contribute to the achievement of my goals.  A strategic partnership is established that will work for the long term for both of us.

When I was starting People at Work in the Inquirer, I needed contributors who would be familiar with the concerns of people at work as well as be able to write well.  I approached Tita Datu Puangco, CEO of an established training company, Ancilla Enterprise Development Consultants, Inc.  Though she graduated magna cum laude in journalism from UST Philets and started out in the media industry, her career track veered towards organizational development and then, to management consultancy where she achieved outstanding success. In our discussions, I found that she had this dream to share her knowledge on various work issues with a greater number of people. My invitation for her to write for People at Work fitted right in with her dream. Now, a popular columnist of People at Work, she has rediscovered her love for journalism. This coincidence has been repeated many times over since I ventured on my own in search of my passion in life. I have connected with many people by aligning our passions in life.

You can use this same formula too to effectively gather support for your goals. You can acquire these social skills—without dressing up, without artificiality, without neglecting your family. You need only passion.

(Original version of article published in Metro Working Mom Dec. 2002 – Jan. 2003).

Author: Regina Galang Reyes.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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