February 18, 2013 by texasbbacareerservices
Author:—Rebecca Harrison is a third-year MPA student and former Target Your Future mentor.
As a business student, you know the value of developing social skills. We hear it all the time, right? A high GPA may get your foot in the door, but it’s the connection you make with the recruiter that will land you an internship. But beyond social skills, treating others well is a quality that will translate into rewards well beyond our careers. After all, genuine people skills are not a characteristic you can put on for networking events and take off with your suit and tie; they are practiced and integrated into our daily lives.
Enelle Lamb, a writer for Hubpages, reminds us of how to treat one another through four short stories:
First Important Lesson – “Know The Cleaning Lady”
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”
I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.
Second Important Lesson – “Pickup In The Rain”
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.
She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.
A special note was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.
Third Important Lesson – “Remember Those Who Serve”
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked. “50¢,” replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.
“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “35¢!” she brusquely replied.
The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.
When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.
Fourth Important Lesson – “Giving When It Counts”
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”.
Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.
Although not each of these has business implications clearly defined in the lesson, each reminds us of how to value one another. It suggests that we hold ourselves to a higher standard beyond just being able to treat one another professionally. Yes, be genuinely interested in others, help others, appreciate others, and give to others! These types of skills will go above and beyond the ability to hold an interesting conversation. Recruiters focus on a candidate’s social skills because they’re trying to make a deeper assumption about who you are, and if you have a sincere interest in people, your social skills will be apparent naturally. So I challenge you, don’t just be friendly and pleasant for others to see, be genuine about it!
Target Your Future (TYF) offers a small group setting to BBA students for those “off the record” questions with industry professionals, professors and upperclassmen. This eight-week program is designed around career topics to increase your knowledge, experience and confidence. While building your network, the new insight will broaden your perspective on potential industries and employers. TYF strengthens your career decision-making skills through personal exploration, mentorships and networking!