An article that appeared in the Wednesday, May 9 2007 Business Day section of The New York Times made this point ever so clearly.
“On March 23, Andrew N. Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, wrote a scathing performance review about one of his top lieutenants.
‘I expect to see that your negative body language when you disagree with a course of action is eliminated,’ he wrote to the executive, Romeo Kreinberg, who ran the $21 billion performance plastics and chemical business portfolio. ‘Frankly, your recent behavior was the last straw and I will not allow such destructive behavior to be repeated.’
Mr. Liveris gave Mr. Kreinberg three months to change his behavior. Otherwise, he warned, ‘I will have no choice but to sever your links with Dow.’”
From the sounds of it, Mr. Kreinberg is a poster boy for a lack of interpersonal incompetence. “Negative body language”…“destructive behavior” – it would have been fun to be a fly on the wall in the meetings that led up to Mr. Liveris’ review of Mr. Kreinberg’s performance.
In my experience, people who are so blatantly unaware (or uncaring) of the impact of their behavior on others, very seldom end up running $21 billion businesses. Most never make it past the level of individual contributor or first-level manager.
There is some simple, but powerful common sense career advice here. If you can’t build and maintain strong relationships with the people in your organization; and if you can’t learn to deal with conflict in a positive manner, you are unlikely to become a career and life success.
Successful people realize that they have to continue working with the people with whom they find themselves in conflict. They accept decisions that go against them graciously. They pitch in and help make decisions work; even if they argued strenuously against those decisions before they were made.
Successful interpersonally competent people avoid “negative body language” and “destructive behavior” – for the good of their company, and the good of their careers.
By the way, Mr. Liveris fired Mr. Kreinberg three weeks later for a non-related issue – being “involved in unauthorized discussion with third parties about the potential acquisition of the company.”
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people follow the career advice in Tweet 134 in Success Tweets. “Settle disputes and resolve differences quickly. Don’t let them drag on. Engage the other person in meaningful conversation.” Don’t let your body language show how negatively you feel about a decision or other person. Don’t engage in destructive behaviors – actions that damage your reputation, your relationships and your company. Instead, address differences head on. Resolve them quickly and move on. Treat people with whom you disagree with dignity and respect.