Last week I overheard three businessmen in a New York restaurant try to out-perform each other with stories of their latest victories. No one was listening, no one really cared about their dining companions and no one expressed any interest in anything but themselves. Can you imagine sitting next to one of those guys on a long flight?
Greetings from 33,000 feet somewhere over western Virginia! I’m writing from seat 21D as I travel to Williamsburg for a program tomorrow. I’ve decided to preempt the originally planned article this month because I’ve just watched one of life’s great lessons play out before me.
A lot of people don’t enjoy air travel. The lines, congestion and delays are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m on a plane almost every week, so I’m no stranger to these biases.
But today was different. Today I had a great flight.
It wasn’t great because I got upgraded to first class, because I didn’t. It wasn’t great because the plane left on time, because it didn’t. It wasn’t great because of the friendly service, because the flight attendants still had an attitude.
Today was different because I got to watch the person sitting across the aisle put on a clinic in making others feel important—a valuable skill that I wished more people possessed. Suddenly I’m surrounded by passengers who are enjoying being trapped in a small aluminum tube as it hurls through space. How in the world is that possible?
Think about the last time you made a focused effort making someone else feel important. Go ahead… I’ll wait.
Although the concept sounds simple, many of us can’t get past the temptation of making ourselves feel important. You see it all the time.
Last week I overheard three businessmen in a New York restaurant try to out-perform each other with stories of their latest victories. It was painful to watch… I can only imagine how small everyone in that conversation must have felt. No one was listening, no one really cared about their dining companions and no one expressed any interest in anything but themselves. Can you imagine sitting next to one of those guys on a long flight?
All of us enjoy those rare moments when others make us feel important. It is one of our deepest and most universal human desires. I once read that everyone has an imaginary tattoo across their forehead that reads M.M.F.I. It is there to remind others that we want to feel important (Make Me Feel Important). We all want that feeling and will gravitate towards those who make us feel that way.
So what does it take to help others shine? Here are three practical and powerful ideas to help change your focus, and maybe even change your life.
Ask great questions
Focus your energy on being interested, not interesting. Talking about the weather, sports or last night’s news is polite, but it won’t make others feel important. Develop three great open-ended questions that encourage others to share some of their story with you.
Listen to learn
Do you actively listen to others, or do you just listen for the opportunity to interrupt and hijack the conversation? One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People tells us that we should seek first to understand. Try it and watch what happens to the depth of your conversations.
Remember what Mom taught you
Being polite and courteous never goes out of style. Helping someone stow their overhead bag makes them feel good, makes you feel good and makes everyone watching feel good. You may not be on a plane today, but I’ll bet you can still find an opportunity to serve someone else in a similar way.
About the author
Tim Wackel is one of today’s most popular sales speakers because he makes information…