Climbing the professional and personal success ladder depends on who knows you and not who you know

It is better to be respected than to be liked.
It is better to be respected than to be liked.

I walked into the office and saw Simon clearing his desk on his last day at work, following his resignation. Apparently, the management had asked him to render his resignation or risk being fired, for reasons only known by the two parties. None of this mattered to me anyway, but it is what happened after Simon left that made me think really hard about the way people relate with one another, and how it can affect their life.

A few weeks after Simon’s departure, he contacted me asking if I could give reference for him to his new employer. I was tongue-tied. Here is the thing… This guy was hard to work with. In my views, he was rude and treated the junior staff badly. “How could I give reference to his new employer?” In fact, I was even surprised that he had approached me, because we hardly used to interact. After pondering on the matter for sometime, I politely declined.

Later I got to learn from two another colleagues that they too had declined to give Simon’s reference to his new employer for similar reasons. Shortly, people started sharing their not-so-good experiences with Simon when he was part of the team, and it struck me that, had he treated people differently, a simple thing like getting reference would have been a straight forward matter.

Building relationships is very important and necessary to help you succeed in your professional and personal life. I have come to learn that it is not about who you know—but what people know about you. If you are known to be disrespectful and uncooperative, it does not matter what professional qualifications you have, because people will want to disassociate themselves from you. On the other hand, if you are known to be respectful and cooperative, people will want to be associated with you, and in return, you will be supported to succeed in your professional and personal endeavors.

Therefore, in addition to everything you know about building relationships, do not forget that:

  • People will always remember ‘how you make them feel’, and not what you say; which in return determines whether they want to be close to you or distant from you. For you to climb the professional and personal success ladder, you need the support of people who know you.