How to Work With Other People

Every business owner that I know is wildly independent. They make up their own mind, have an amazing work ethic, and know how to set a goal and get it. That is how they ended up in business for themselves. 

Being awesome is only one small piece of making it work when it comes to a business. And quite honestly, that awesomeness gets in our way when it comes to working with other people.

If you are in business for yourself, you more than likely have very high standards. This can lead to frustration and disappointment when people you interact with do not meet those expectations.

Here are a few tips to help you:


Stop taking it so personally. If someone does not do what you expected him or her to do (especially an hourly employee or your toddler) it is almost certainly not about you.

This is a really difficult concept for many business owners to wrap their heads around. “But I am the boss”, you think, “Everyone is here for the same purpose as me, to make this business the most amazing thing ever! People should listen and respect me at all times.” If only it were that easy.

The only thing you can control when dealing with other people, is how you react to them and I promise, it will be much easier to respond to difficult people when you recognize it is honestly, not about you.

If your client is late to a meeting, it is not about you. If a contractor doesn’t deliver exactly what you have in your head, it is not about you. If your toddler will only eat bread, and launches in to a full on meltdown when you suggest otherwise it is not about you.


If you want someone to do something, ask specifically. I learned this awesome lesson when I was in the girl’s locker room in college.

I was a member of the Diamond Gem Dance Team and while getting ready to perform at halftime at the Temple vs. Memphis basketball game, I ran out of mascara.

I announced to the room, “Does anyone have a mascara I can use?!!” No one responded.

A my good friend and go-to mentor on the team, said to me, “Shannon, if you want something, you have to single out each girl by name and ask them directly, otherwise there is too much noise for anyone to care about helping you.” The first girl I asked, Andrea, handed me her mascara without even breaking conversation. I have lived by this wisdom from that point on.

If you need someone to help you, whether they live with you or work for you, you need to look at them, call them by their name, and ask them for what it is you need. There is too much noise in this world for anyone to hear you.


Recognize that everyone needs support. For very “self-sufficient” independent people, it can be hard to ask for help. I know there have been times when I thought, “It would be easier to just do this myself, versus explain it to someone else.” Incorrect!

When you do not build in support while you grow, it makes it that much harder to ask for it when you have finally reached your capacity. Ask for help before you think you cannot live without it. Once you reach your max, you will settle for what ever help comes you way, which is most likely not your ideal support. 


Learn when to move on. Sometimes people are not a match. No amount of training or coaching is going to change that. You could end up spending a lot of time being frustrated with someone who has the best intentions, beating yourself up for not being a perfect leader, or you can create your ideal scenario for support and be open to it.  

If you did not take the above advice and bring on support before you were desperate, it is very likely that the people you have supporting you are not ideal, even if you really like them and they are good people. This is unfair to you and to them.

A great exercise that I have my clients do when assessing their support, is to create a “job description” including all the tasks they want someone to help them with and all of the qualities their ideal candidate would have. It is important to have no one in mind for this position and do not consider cost; simply write down your dream scenario. Then compare that scenario to what you have now. If it matches up perfectly, perfect! If it matches up partially, look at the discrepancies and see if those are things you can train on or live with. If it doesn’t match up at all, it is time to move on.