The Uses Of People Skills

The idea that the masculine mind is concerned with numbers and things, and that the feminine mind is concerned with people ought by rights to be condemned as the mortal sin of “biological essentialism”. This is a vice greatly reprobated by all right-thinking women whenever it does not work in their favour. Here, however, it does work in their favour, or appears to. That, however, depends upon the assumption that being a People Person is inherently and unarguably a Good Thing.

Nobody ever seems to challenge this assumption. Nobody ever seems to point out that concern with interpersonal relations at the expense of numbers and things is only a Good Thing when coupled with the Good Will. The vaunted female superiority in “people skills”, networking and so forth may produce a great humanitarian activist, or just the good neighbour and village carer-for-the-sick. At least as often, however, it seems to give us the bimbo who knows who is sleeping with whom, and which handbag will be fashionable for the next five minutes, but not where Germany is. Of course, there may be men who don’t know where Germany is either, but then no one is complimenting them on their people skills.

When coupled with the downright Bad Will, moreover, concern with interpersonal relations gives us the master manipulator, what is sometimes called the psychopath. Like anything else, concern with and skill at interpersonal relations is only as good as the use made of it. The purpose for which the tool is wielded is what counts.

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