The first time I heard those words, I was in a conference hall with several thousand people. The speaker on the stage, was encouraging us to pretend that everyone we meet has that tattooed on their forehead.
In other words, take an interest. Be present. Engage.
Consider it a SuperPower to add to your tool belt. This one is simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple. It’s a bit nuanced and requires a little bit of effort on your part.
Making someone else feel important means you are other-focused, instead of making it all about you. It means being an attentive listener and asking follow-up questions.
Next time you’re having a one-on-one conversation with one of your contemporaries, whether that’s your boss, your friend, or even your Mom, notice the dynamics.
It’s so easy for your friend to be talking about the beautiful flowers in her garden and instead of asking her more about her flowers, you take over. Next thing you know, you’re telling her all about that spring you were in Amsterdam when all the tulips were in bloom and about the hotel you stayed in and all the great meals you ate.
Obviously, the reverse could be true, too. You could have been the one talking about your flower garden and your friend hijacked the conversation.
In either case, when you walk away, you may not, necessarily, feel bad, but you may walk away not looking forward to the next conversation either.
What if, instead, you listened. What if you gave your friend (your boss, your Mom) your undivided attention. What if you used their name. Robert C. Lee pointed out, “The sweetest sound to anyone’s ears is the sound of his own name.” (This is also one of those helpful tricks when meeting someone new. Repeat their name right away and it will help you remember it.)
Probably the easiest (and hardest) demonstration of your undivided attention is putting your phone away so it isn’t a distraction. (And by away, I mean away, away! Not simply silencing it, but in your bag or your pocket, somewhere that you can’t see it – or feel it vibrate.) Nothing says “you’re NOT important” more than checking your phone instead being attentive to the one you’re with.
Try it. The next time you find yourself in a face-to-face conversation (even if it’s a video-chat), unearth your SuperPower and make the other person feel important by:
- Putting your phone away
- Making eye contact
- Asking questions
- Using their name
Then watch what happens. Let me know below!