Why I cringe when I hear interviewees say “I Love Working With People”

Call me an old fashioned curmudgeon, but it just bugs me when PR folks say they are “people-persons” or that they “love working with people” and believe it to be an asset when applying for a PR position.  I just don’t understand why this hits a nerve with me.

Look, I get it.  In order to be in PR you do have to have better than average communications skills with other humans.  So, when young students appear to have great personalities and/or people skills, teachers, parents, etc. might typically suggest that they go into PR.

Fine, but then why just PR?  I suppose we’re known to be “show people.” So then, why not clowning?  Have you ever met a circus clown that wasn’t good at or did not like working with people (okay, one comes to mind, but let’s not go there, and anyway, he wasn’t an “official” clown)? The entire purpose of being a clown is to entertain people and make them laugh, so shouldn’t they be adept at doing so and, in turn, enjoy it? Or what about post office employees working at the stamp counter – they work with people every day and also apparently seem to love it!  Yet, are students guided into postal careers because of their good natures and communications skills? Certainly not!

In reality, practically every occupation on earth requires human interaction and having to be decent enough at getting your point across so as not to offend your coworkers, customers, vendors, bosses, etc., so much that you get fired.  As far as I’m concerned, you pretty much have to work well with people to succeed in any job, but I suppose you don’t necessarily have to like it or them.   I guess that’s why there are lawyers and accountants.

I remember when I was in high school I wanted to be a veterinarian and talked to ours while taking my dog, Kenyon, for an appointment.  I told our vet that it would be so great to work with animals and less with people.  You know what he said?  He told me that yes, he does have to work with animals, but being a vet really more requires excellent people skills – because  it’s the owners you’re  ultimately servicing and interacting with.  You have to be empathetic under difficult circumstances as when pets are sick, and even just regular circumstances like, say when the crazy-cat-lady-spinster (I do not own cats) won’t stop talking about her seven cats’ various bowel movements or finicky eating habits.

Hey, don’t think I don’t like working with people, although there are truthfully some days when I just want to write and type on my computer with my dog at my feet.  For the most part, I enjoy camaraderie and communicating. I recognize that I do have a skill of being able to communicate with folks to create positive outcomes.  It’s just that I don’t believe it’s a trait germane only to PR practitioners, nor do I think I went into the PR field because of it.

Clearly, I went into PR for the great clothes and shoes.

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3 thoughts on “Why I cringe when I hear interviewees say “I Love Working With People”

  1. Great post! I agree, a lot of people think that because they are a ‘people’ person, that they would make an excellent PR specialist, but you make a great point by saying that pretty much any job in the world requires some degree of people skills.

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