Social media and Dave Packard

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At the end of June I referenced Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard as forward-thinking managers when they founded HP. My thoughts turned to HP’s founders again when I caught up with a friend who works in the business recently for lunch and we were shooting the breeze over some Japanese food.

One of the things that came up was how less-experienced practitioners often didn’t build relationships properly or say please and thank you when doing outreach via social media channels. I’ve been pretty fortunate in this regard mainly because I am quite big, have a northern accent and a shaven head which tends to give away my no-nonsense approach, so I suspect that people move on to easier pickings elsewhere.

The conversation reminded me of a set of rules that Dave Packard presented at HP’s second annual management conference some 52 years ago which demonstrated the kind of smarts social media practitioners should have. Politeness and respect are central to Packard’s approach:

  • Think first of the other fellow. This is THE foundation — the first requisite — for getting along with others. And it is the one truly difficult accomplishment you must make. Gaining this, the rest will be “a breeze.”
  • Build up the other person’s sense of importance. When we make the other person seem less important, we frustrate one of his deepest urges. Allow him to feel equality or superiority, and we can easily get along with him.
  • Respect the other man’s personality rights. Respect as something sacred the other fellow’s right to be different from you. No two personalities are ever molded by precisely the same forces.
  • Give sincere appreciation. If we think someone has done a thing well, we should never hesitate to let him know it. WARNING: This does not mean promiscuous use of obvious flattery. Flattery with most intelligent people gets exactly the reaction it deserves — contempt for the egotistical “phony” who stoops to it.
  • Eliminate the negative. Criticism seldom does what its user intends, for it invariably causes resentment. The tiniest bit of disapproval can sometimes cause a resentment which will rankle — to your disadvantage — for years.
  • Avoid openly trying to reform people. Every man knows he is imperfect, but he doesn’t want someone else trying to correct his faults. If you want to improve a person, help him to embrace a higher working goal — a standard, an ideal — and he will do his own “making over” far more effectively than you can do it for him.
  • Try to understand the other person. How would you react to similar circumstances? When you begin to see the “whys” of him you can’t help but get along better with him.
  • Check first impressions. We are especially prone to dislike some people on first sight because of some vague resemblance (of which we are usually unaware) to someone else whom we have had reason to dislike. Follow Abraham Lincoln’s famous self-instruction: “I do not like that man; therefore I shall get to know him better.”
  • Take care with the little details. Watch your smile, your tone of voice, how you use your eyes, the way you greet people, the use of nicknames and remembering faces, names and dates. Little things add polish to your skill in dealing with people. Constantly, deliberately think of them until they become a natural part of your personality.
  • Develop genuine interest in people. You cannot successfully apply the foregoing suggestions unless you have a sincere desire to like, respect and be helpful to others. Conversely, you cannot build genuine interest in people until you have experienced the pleasure of working with them in an atmosphere characterized by mutual liking and respect.
  • Keep it up. That’s all — just keep it up!

This isn’t about social media, although Shel Israel or Brian Solis would say much the same things with a sprinkling of digital pixie dust, these practitioners need to conduct themselves as mature adults and pick up a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people.