Happy Friday y’all! I hope you had a super week. Today I’m sharing one of my favorite, and perhaps one of the most important life and leadership lessons I could ever muster up. What is it? Making people feel like they matter. Though it sounds like a simple concept, I’ve noticed that it can be easy to forget. In case you want to up your leadership game, create deeper bonds with those around you, or just help the people in your life feel like absolute all-stars, check out my five tips for making people feel important and then…ya know…do them!
1. Give them a nickname. Has anyone ever randomly given you a nickname one day? Instead of Elizabeth you’re all of a sudden “Lizzy” and before the confusion has time to settle, you’re grinning from ear to ear. Not only did they remember your name, but they took the time to create a special name, just between the two of you. Though my name is Melyssa, hearing people, especially new friends, call me Mel just feels like home.
2. While we’re on the subject, spell their name right! I once read that the sweetest word to any person is the sound of their own name. Makes sense, right? It’s special, darn’t! So when you begin an email with “Dear I-Didn’t-Take-Two-Seconds-To-Check-The-Spelling-Of-Your-Name,” it doesn’t say “I’m busy” or “I’m a people-person.” It says simply, I don’t care. Spell their name right and remind them that it’s worth spelling correctly.
3. Touch them. Giggity. No, not like that you pervs. What I mean is that if you’re having a conversation with someone, touch their arm when you have something exciting to tell them, give them a shoulder squeeze when they look like they’re having a rough day. Don’t invade their comfortability, but let them know that you’re listening, you’re there, and they’re important to you. One of our senses is “touch.” Use it. It connects us to one another.
4. Just listen. To be honest, I avoid my boss at work a lot. He is always stressed, complaining, and negative. But recently, while waiting for another teacher, we found ourselves alone in a room just passing the time. He started complaining about work and this time I decided to just sit there, listen intently and let him know that I cared. As soon as we left the room together, I noticed a change in him. It was like his weight and stress had been alleviated just by the fact that someone would listen to what he had to say. Bottom line, listen to people. And most of all, don’t offer advice unless they ask. Sometimes people just need to talk and we just need to let them.
5. Tell them! Do you know how many people have thought about you and your existence in the past month? Probably about 5 zillion, but chances are you’ve heard from like, three. I’m not even kidding. I think about so many people — old classmates from high school, best friends from college, former coworkers, and more — on a daily basis that I can barely keep count. But when someone pops in my mind, I don’t always take the time to send them a quick Facebook message or voicemail to let them know that I hope they’re doing all right. It only takes a minute, but it has the power to totally make their day.
In terms of leadership, friendship, or any other -ships out there, I think that making the people around you feel heard, important, and worth listening to is one of the greatest gifts you could give.