You’ll be happier if you will give people a bit of your heart rather than a piece of your mind.
We all need air, water, and food to survive. But I would argue that we also need relationships that work to make our survival desirable and worthwhile.
And it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about work relationships or family relationships. We all need good, healthy, positive interpersonal relationships in both arenas of our lives.
That’s why the entire second day of my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program focuses on how you can bring out the best in others. When asked about the “Journey,” CEO Jim Kaloutas answered, “What have I accomplished as a result of this program? A stronger work environment filled with positive people!!!”
And Paul Tranovich, a Regional Account Manager for GSA, said, “Thank you again for your ‘Journey’ experience. It was great, and I learned so very much. Especially the self-affirmations. I have been telling myself, since the first day of the ‘Journey,’ that I am a very patient father. I used to yell right off the bat, without talking or discussing anything first. Now I’m talking and working out problems with myself and my children without blowing up. It is bringing us closer every day. THANK YOU!”
Of course, I can’t give you 8-hour seminar in a 5-minute “Tuesday Tip,” but I can tell you … if you do these things … you will build relationships that work.
1. Accept the other person the way he or she is.
That doesn’t mean you have to like some of the things the other person does. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to agree with or approve of the things the other person that you think are just plain wrong.
Acceptance is just that … acceptance. You accept the other person … which includes three behaviors on your part.
Accept them without criticism. When someone sees, hears, or feels your criticism, you build a wall between you. And you may even invite some retaliatory criticism. Instead, find qualities to compliment, and you’ll start to tear down that wall.
Accept them without comparisons. If you say something like, “I wish you were more like Bill over in regional sales. He never gripes about how tough the customers are, and somehow or other he always makes his quota.” he’ll hear that he’s not a very good salesperson. He’ll grow to despise Bill, you, the company, the customers, or anything else you compare him to.
Accept them without change. People resent it when you demand they change. In fact, they’ll find a thousand reasons to defend their present behavior, no matter how bad or dysfunctional it may be. More often than not, the other person will change WHEN they see you changing … WHEN they see your belief in them … and WHEN they feel accepted by you as a worthwhile person. It is at that time that they tend to change for the better … almost automatically.
2. Give the other person a hand up, not a hand out.
It’s an absolutely critical point. Every nation that has focused too much on giving people handouts has fallen. It’s called an “entitlement society.” And every relationship where one partner has handed out too much help to the other has been unsuccessful. It’s called “codependency” or “enabling.”
Help people in need. Absolutely! But make the distinction. Give them a hand up rather than a handout.
It’s like the guy who fell into a pit and couldn’t get out. A subjective person came along and said, “I feel for you down there.” An objective person came along and said, “Well, it’s logical somebody would fall down there.” A judgmental person said, “You deserve your pit.” A self-righteous person said, “Only bad people fall into pits.” A realist said, “Now that’s a pit.” A geologist said, “You need to appreciate the rock strata in the pit.” A tax agent asked, “Have you paid your taxes on the pit?” A self-pitying person said, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.” An optimist said, “Things could be worse.” A pessimist said, “Things will get worse.”
BUT, a caring person, a smart person, a person who knew how to build working relationships came along, reached down, took him by the hand, and lifted him out of the pit.
You have the power to affect the lives of those around you. Your encouragement can make the difference in someone’s day, week, or even life, and send them in a whole new direction.
3. Nourish the other person’s self-esteem.
Right now, one of the “hot” topics on the speaking circuit is dealing with generation differences in the workplace. We keep hearing about how needy the younger generations are …. asking for more recognition, more challenges, more autonomy, more communication, and more rewards. But in a recent survey of workers 55 and older, they said, “We want the same things. We just felt we couldn’t ask.”
So don’t miss this important insight: What your younger workers badger you for are the same things all your employees crave. Their communication METHODS may differ, but their NEEDS don’t. They all want and need you to nourish their self-esteem.
Your employees deserve to be regarded first as people rather than as generations.
I will often tell my audiences that “I want to give you a skill … not a gift … because this is something any one of you can LEARN to do.” And as corny as it sounds, it really does improve your face value. Smile while you talk. And if you don’t think it’s that big of a deal, look around. You’ll notice that very few people do it.
If you smile while you talk, you automatically come across better than most other people and make the other person feel better.
Of course, you don’t have to … indeed you shouldn’t … overdo it. Just lift your eyebrows and turn up the corners of your mouth. People will start smiling back, even those people who didn’t want to. When you smile while you talk, you make the other person feel good and make him want to be around you.
4. Say the important, loving things now … even though it may be uncomfortable.
Billy Graham talked about that on several occasions. He said, “Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.”
That’s why my teacher-friend Dennis Mannering gave his class a particularly important assignment and later shared his story in the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
Dennis told his class of adult learners: “Go to someone you love within the next week and tell them you love them. It has to be someone you have never said those words to before or at least haven’t shared those words for a long time.” For some students, this was a very threatening assignment … especially the older men who had been raised to not share their emotions.
The following week, Dennis asked if someone in the class wanted to share what happened when they told someone they loved them. One big man, who appeared somewhat shaken, stood up and said he was angry at Dennis for giving the assignment. After all, who was he, some teacher, ordering him to do something so personal?
Nonetheless, the man said as he drove home he knew immediately who he needed to say “I love you” to. Five years before, he and his father had gotten into a nasty argument and never resolved it. They had been avoiding each other ever since. By the time he got home from class, the man said he had convinced himself he was going to tell his father he loved him.
At 9:00 o’clock the next morning, he called his dad to see if he could come over after work. He had something to tell him. In a grumpy manner, his dad asked, “Now what?” His son assured him it wouldn’t take long, so his dad finally agreed.
At 5:30 p.m., when the man rang the doorbell at his parents’ house, his dad opened the door. The man didn’t waste any time. He took one step in the door and said, “Dad, I just came over to tell you that I love you.”
As he continued to tell his story to the class, the man said, “It was as if a transformation came over my dad. Before my eyes his face softened, the wrinkles seemed to disappear and he began to cry. He reached out and hugged me and said, ‘I love you too, son, but I’ve never been able to say it.’ Dad and I hugged for a moment longer and then I left. I hadn’t felt that great in a long time.”
Of course, the man’s story could have ended right there … and that alone would be a lesson for all of us … to say those important, loving things. But the man went on to tell the class that two days after the visit, his dad, who had heart problems that he hadn’t revealed, ended up in the hospital, unconscious.
The man finished his story by saying, “I don’t know if he’ll make it … So my message to all of you in this class is this … What if I had waited to tell my dad? Maybe I will never get the chance again! Take the time to do what you need to do and do it now!”
To summarize my four points … to build relationships that work … pay attention to the words of author and rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman (1907-1948) who said, “Treasure each other in the recognition that we do not know how long we shall have each other.”