Mary Kay Ash, the entrepreneur allegedly said, “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Here is something that I wish I had learned 30 years ago and I urge you to try it. Over the next few days, whoever you meet, make them feel important.
Of course you are going to have to work out just how you are going to do that. Perhaps praising someone will work, or will they see that as hollow? What about flattering someone? They may well see that just as your attempt to creep around them. So how are you going to go about making someone feel important, exactly?
Let me make a suggestion. Try listening to them. It is that simple. I mean really listen to them. The highest honour we can pay another person is to really listen to them, with respect, without judgement, with genuine interest and most importantly without interruption. Try it.
Be warned, it is not as easy as I make it sound. Observe any human interaction over the next few days and I guarantee that you will be astounded at what you see. People talking over each other, people never really listening to each other, one person can’t wait for the other to draw breath so that they can say what they want to say, irrespective of the first person’s comments. It would be easy to think of a conversation as a game of verbal tennis. The first person serves up a comment and the second returns that service and on the rally goes, but what you will invariably see is that conversations don’t often go like that. Sometimes the threads are so diverse that the two people could be having entirely separate and diverse conversations with themselves, they just take it in turn to do the speaking. A little like playing tennis with two individual balls, or to stretch the analogy one is playing tennis and the other badminton.
So try listening for a day or two and notice what you notice about the reaction that you get. Don’t interrupt. Provide some feedback that will let the speaker know that you are not only listening but listening with interest. Ask for clarification on a point or two with a well meant question like “tell me when you said “beautiful”, what exactly did you mean?”. Play back some of the speaker’s exact language. Often they are astounded at how much and how close attention you have been paying them and then notice how their reaction to you changes.