Becoming a People Builder
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya AngelouA significant part of emotional intelligence is learning to help people feel good about themselves without being manipulative. This builds people. This concept was popularized long ago in Dale Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which 82 years after its publication is still the 11th most read of Amazon’s 11 million books.In today’s culture of insecurity, where everyone is expected to do more, and do it better, faster, and where others’ Facebook profiles and Instagram feeds make us feel inferior and even more self-absorbed, it is good to think about how important it is to help people feel good.Of course, you can’t always make people feel good. For example, when supervising an underperforming employee and your repeated kind words, encouragement, and efforts to “catch them doing something right” have been met only with complacency, just making them feel good is not helpful or productive.But in the normal situation, why not default toward making people feel better? Key to making that happen is taking a second before speaking to ask yourself, “Will this likely make the person feel good or bad?” And if it’s “bad,” take another moment to consider whether that’s wise and good.Some people naturally tend to make people feel good about themselves. Most of us need a little help. Here are some guidelines that can help.Demonstrate common ground. Especially if you’re in a higher position, a person will appreciate your pointing out your similarities. Even some very simple things, like similar choices in clothes, hobbies, etc., are good starts.Don’t let them feel humiliated.When someone makes a mistake, it’s tempting to point it out. It is rarely worth it. Most of the time it is wise to ignore it, or say, “No big deal.” If someone misses something in a meeting, it’s generally wiser to approach them privately about it, or if it’s not really important, just let it go.Listen more than you talk. Ask about them.We tend to be wrapped up in ourselves. Asking a question or two beyond the obligatory, “How are you?” “Fine, how are you?” makes a person feel good. Talk more about them and what’s important to them than yourself.Accept people the way they are and be agreeable.Because most people are judgmental and critical, to be unconditionally accepted by another person raises that person’s self-esteem, reinforces his or her self-image, and makes that person much more likely to accept you and follow your lead. The most welcomed people in every situation are those who are generally agreeable and positive with others. People who like to be argumentative, complaining, or disagreeable will have a hard time closing a contract or maintaining contacts.Show your appreciation and admiration for others.When you appreciate another person for anything that he or she has done or said, they will like themselves and you more as well. The simplest way to express appreciation is to simply say, “Thank you” for an idea, some good feedback, time spent together, or an order. Show your admiration.People invest a lot of personal emotion in their possessions, traits, and accomplishments. When you admire something belonging to another person or something he can do, it makes him feel happy about himself. Everyone has positives, and it’s up to you to find them.Actually pay attention to others.The most powerful way to pay attention to someone is to listen attentively first, even ask questions, before you launch into a monologue dealing with every single question they might never even consider. Believe it or not, before you even say a word, your interest will make you a more interesting and intelligent person in their eyes.Be courteous, concerned, and considerate of everyone you meet.When you treat a person with courtesy and respect, they will value and respect you more. By being concerned, you connect with their emotions. What is consideration? It is simply discipline to do and say things to people that are important to them.Put your stuff away.Don't check your phone. Don't glance at your monitor. Don't focus on anything else, even for a moment. You can never connect with others if you're busy connecting with your stuff too. Give the gift of your full attention. That's a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and they will remember you.Give before you receive, and even not receive. Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can give. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.Shine the spotlight on others.No one receives enough praise. No one. Tell people what they did well. It's your job to know. It's your job to find out ahead of time. Not only will people appreciate your praise, they'll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they're doing. Then they'll feel a little more skilled and a lot more important.Choose your words.The words you use impact the attitude of others. We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves—and make you feel better about yourself too. Don’t get caught up in discussing the failures of others. We all tend to gravitate toward gossip or a little dirt. But we definitely don't respect the people who dish that dirt. Don't laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you make fun of them too.Admit your own failings and flaws. Be humble. Share your screwups. Admit your mistakes. Laugh at yourself. While you should never laugh at other people, you should always laugh at yourself. They'll like you better for it—and they'll want to be around you a lot more.You can build people. You can make them feel better. And you will be better for it.