You can be an analytical, data-driven, steely-eyed businessperson all you like, but business is ultimately about people.
That means business is also about emotions: yours and those of the people you interact with every day.
Incredibly successful people make a huge difference not just in their own lives, but also in the lives of the people they care about, both professionally and personally.
1. They Answer the Unasked Question
Maybe she’s hesitant. Maybe he’s insecure, or shy. Whatever the reason, people often ask a different question than the one they really want you to answer.
One employee might ask if you think he should take a few business classes; what he really wants to know is whether you see him as able to grow in the organization. He hopes the answer is yes, and he hopes you’ll share the reasons why.
Your husband might ask if you thought the woman at the party was flirting with him; what he really wants to know is if you still think he’s flirt-worthy and whether you still find him attractive. He hopes you’ll say you do, and he’ll love it when you share the reasons why.
Behind many questions is an unasked question.
Pay attention to that question, too, because that’s the one the other person might really need answered.
2. They Refuse to Wait
You don’t have to wait to be discovered. You don’t have to wait for an okay. You don’t have to wait for someone else to help you.
You can try to do whatever you want to do right now. You may not succeed. But you don’t have to wait.
3. They Appreciate the Unappreciated
Some jobs require more effort than skill. Bagging groceries, delivering packages, checking out customers—the tasks are relatively easy. The difference is in the effort.
Do more than say thanks to someone who does a thankless job. Smile. Make eye contact. Exchange a kind word.
All around you are people who work hard with little or no recognition. Vow to be the person who recognizes at least one of them every day.
Not only will you give respect, you’ll earn the best kind of respect in return—the respect that comes from making a difference, however fleeting, in another person’s life.
4. They Give Latitude Instead of Direction
You’re in charge. You know what to do. So it’s natural to tell your employees what to do and how to do it. But in the process you’ll stifle their creativity and discount their skills and experience.
Letting another person decide how is the best way to show you respect their abilities and trust their judgment.
In a command-and-control world, latitude is a breath of freedom and is a gift anyone can give.
5. They Stop and Smell Their Roses
You have big plans. You have big goals. You’re never satisfied, because satisfaction breeds complacency.
So most of the time you’re unhappy, because you think more about what you have not achieved, have not done, and do not have.
Take a moment to think about what you do have, professionally and especially personally. At this moment you have more than you once ever thought possible.
Sure, always strive for more, but don’t forget to take a moment to realize that all the things you have, especially your relationships, are more important than anything you want to have.
Unlike a want, what you have isn’t a hope, a wish, or a dream. What you already have is real.
And it’s awesome. And it’s yours.
6. They Look Beneath the Surface
Sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes they piss you off.
When that happens it’s natural to assume they didn’t listen or didn’t care. But often there’s a deeper reason. They may feel stifled. They may feel they have no control. They may feel frustrated or marginalized or ignored or not cared for.
If you’re in charge, whether at work or home, you may need to deal with their mistake. But then look past the action for the underlying issues.
Anyone can dole out discipline; vow to provide understanding, empathy, and to help the other person deal with the larger issue that led to the mistake.
After all, you might have caused the issue.
7. They Make Love a Verb
You love your work. When you’re working, that feeling shows in everything you say and do.
You love your family. When you’re with them, does that feeling show in everything you say and do?
Love is a feeling, and feelings are often selfish. Turn your feelings into action. Actively love the people you love. Show them you love them by words and deeds.
When you make love a verb, the people you care about know exactly how you feel. Make sure they do.
8. They Try Only to Be Themselves
You worry about what other people think. (Don’t feel bad—I’m sure I do that as much as anyone.) Yet no matter how hard you try, you can’t be all things to all people.
But you can be as many things as possible to the people you love.
And you can be the best you.
Be yourself. That is the one thing you can do better than anyone else.
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