This is the key to building a successful career.

When is it ok to be abrasive at work, to ride roughshod over people’s feelings and to hold the view of my way or the highway? The answer is never.

The early years of my career (and some later as well) were punctuated with incidents that showcased me as an aggressive pushy professional, keen to make his mark. My approach at work was to ensure my viewpoint carried through to the other, his or her feelings be damned. I was brusque in my attitude and said what was needed to be said, regardless of the audience. 

The end result was on expected lines. I was typecast as an abrasive person who while good at his work, was lacking inter personal skills. This of course impacted my appraisals as well.

After spending more than half my life in the corporate world, here’s what I have realised – this is not a make believe world where anything goes. It consists of real people who have real feelings and are just trying to make their mark while making a living. So it always helps to realise the human core at the heart of everything we do at work. 

To understand that all our actions at work would impact our colleagues in some way or another. This realisation requires that we be sensitive to them, in the way we interact – assertive yet respectful, honest yet tactful and professional yet with an inherent understanding and empathy towards their behaviour and actions.

This approach was amply demonstrated by quite a few SVP/ Directors that I have had the good fortune to work with. The more senior the person, the more sensitive he is towards interactions with colleagues, and towards making sure that work is accomplished in a collaborative manner. Sure there would be disagreements and different points of view. But the disagreement is always channelled in a constructive manner, away from the person and towards finding an amicable yet workable solution that meets corporate objectives.

This then is the core learning experience of my career; one that has changed my outlook both as a professional and as an individual.

Do you think this perspective is useful? What has been your biggest learning from the corporate world?  

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