The greatest asset of any company is its people. The ability to value another person’s intrinsic worth, notice and acknowledge contributions and accomplishments, and appreciate and manage diverse thoughts and perspectives is essential to every organization.
The most powerful validation you can give another human being is to care enough to step into their world and listen without giving advice, feedback, or criticism. Robert S. Hartman, Ph.D., reported that people hold back a significant portion of their cooperation and productivity until they feel valued as a human being. Dr. Hartman measured this reserve to be an average of 40% of a person’s total capacity.
The ability to look beyond our own challenging life experiences—and our negative and often destructive dialogue—and clearly see another person opens the door to rich life experiences. Understanding occurs, walls of resistance come down, huge reserves of cooperation flood out, bridges are built, wounds are healed, and relationships strengthened.
How can you actively work to tear down these walls? Start with these four steps:
Listen to understand and discover what is important to others. Approach the other person with an open mind and be fully engaged. See life and circumstances from their perspective. Notice a person’s performance and a job well done.
See It/Say It
When you find these nuggets—what a person is experiencing—verbalize it. How often do you see the good and relevance in another and not verbalize it, especially with those closest to you?
Listen for the Doors (verbal hints about what someone is thinking)
There are different types of doors. For example, simple statements: “I am so tired.” “I’m hanging in there.” Caustic statements are often more challenging: “That is a stupid idea.” “You never listen to me.” Rhetorical questions also offer opportunities to listen deeply: “Can’t anyone around here hear me?” “Why would you agree to do that?” The following responses to those doors can build bridges, rather than create walls.
“Tell me more about that.”
“Help me understand even better what you are experiencing.”
“Are you okay?”
“Clearly that frustrates you. Is there anything else about this that concerns you?”
Step into Their World
Leave your agenda behind and walk though their doors. Stay in their world until they know you care and want to understand their point of view. Know you cannot afford to miss this step. Doing so may result in spending endless hours in damage control.
The greatest gift we can give another person is our understanding and empathy. True leaders focus outward, making the conscious choice to connect, appreciate, and listen to others.