Tony and Julie
Tony is a self-proclaimed ‘rainmaker’, a risk taker, a winner. He runs his own marketing consultancy company which he manages with a rod of iron. He minimises costs and maximises revenue, down to the very last penny. He screws down his suppliers, underpays and overworks his staff, overcharges his clients and underdelivers on his promises. This is his skill, he tells himself. He is ‘tough’ and that’s what makes him a good businessman. “It is not about making friends,” he would say. “It is about making money.” And that’s why no-one likes him.
Tony’s wife, Julie, runs her own boutique store. Something to keep her busy, to occupy her brain, she thought when she set it up. The store looks beautiful. Julie spent a small fortune doing up the windows and the interiors, and she bought a beautiful range of stylish clothes. She has a good eye. But no head for business, unfortunately. She is too generous with her suppliers, buying far too much stock and paying the highest prices; and she is too generous with her customers, offering discounts and gifts, whether they ask for them or not. “Surely, if you give people what they want, they will come back for more,” she argues. The little operation is losing money hand over fist. And that’s why Tony doesn’t respect her.
Both Tony and Julie are wrong, of course. It is not just about one thing or the other, not just about being assertive or just about being considerate towards others, it is about both.
Sometimes, you need to be assertive, but not completely without any thought for the other person; sometimes you need to be kind, but not entirely at the expense of your own self-interest. It is about getting the balance right between the two things. That way, you will respect yourself and like yourself.
As Anthony Burrill says, you need to:
“Work hard and be nice to people.”
This does not just apply to business, it runs through every aspect of our lives – our work, friendships and relationships.
I get the impression Maslow and his ‘hierarchy of needs’ might be out of favour, and that the debate around needs and drives has moved on. But I think there’s something satisfyingly ‘common sensical’ to it.
His ‘hierarchy of needs’ makes for a very beautiful slide, if nothing else …
He argued we have a set of needs starting with the basics of physiological and safety needs, moving up through psychological needs to self-actualisation at the top. Fulfilling each need frees us up to move on to the next level.
I think his psychological needs of esteem and belongingness tell us about ‘respecting yourself’ and ‘liking yourself’ – one is about your attitude to tasks, the other about your attitude to other people.
Internal not external
This is an internal thing, not external. It is about what you think about yourself, deep down, it is not about what other people think – about liking yourself and respecting yourself, not about being liked and respected. This means it is your responsibility and it is in your control. Looking for external affirmation from others hands the control to them.
Liking ourselves and respecting ourselves gives us confidence in our dealings with others and with the world.
It is the search for these two things that underpins our decision-making; and it is the struggle to fulfil one or other of them that is at the heart of much stress and anxiety, of many of the things that get in the way of our development.
Unless you have some foundation of self-respect, you will not cope well with failure, and the fear of failure will increase; if you do not like yourself, you will not cope well with rejection or disapproval, and you will grow to fear them.
You need a firm footing in each, and this gives you something to build on.