Happy Monday, Leaders!
There is a well-worn cliché mostly attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, but regularly ascribed to other politicians, motivational speakers, mega pastors, and favorite preachers; “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Now, this is not always true. I really don’t concern myself if the engineer who built the bridge I’m crossing to get to the outer banks cares about me. I prefer that he knows how to design bridges. It doesn’t matter to me if my surgeon likes me or even thinks about me, but I’d be thrilled to learn that she knows how to do surgery. My mechanic, chef, pilot; well, you get the idea. Still, there are many times when knowing that someone, in whom I deal daily, actually has a concerted interest in me, at least to some degree, may facilitate my concern about their knowledge base.
So, today we will look at influence through caring. Please note. We’re speaking of a sincere consideration, not just the façade or pretense of one. Likewise, to have a viable influence in the normative working relationship with those you lead, it is important that you not only care, but that people are aware that you do. Is there a good strategy to accomplish both? I believe there is, and the answer is simple – ask people about themselves.
Below are 7 Good Reasons for asking people about themselves, and listening intently on the response, and why that can make a difference:
1) It requires you to take attention off yourself. When you really want to know about others, it’s hard to keep the spotlight, and perceived focus, on yourself.
2) It affirms others. Few things are as encouraging to us as someone else genuinely wanting to know about us. You’ll make somebody’s day better when you show that kind of interest.
3) It makes you listen. That means you may have to lay down your phone, close your computer, and communicate face-to-face with undivided attention. Can you do that?
4) It helps you know better the people you lead and work with. My guess is that you don’t know everyone in your work force or sphere of influence on a genuinely personal level. You likely won’t know them, either, until you take the initiative to ask them about themselves. Get involved. Get invested. Get to know what makes them tick.
5) It moves introverts out of their comfort zone. I know it does, because I’m that introvert. Making a commitment to ask intentional questions allows me to engage in conversations with less anxiety. This is not always easy, even for leaders! And yes, some leaders are indeed introverted by nature.
6) It helps guide your praying. Yes, praying. Even in a secular work environment, it is important that a leader (who is a Christian) pray that the Lord bless and care for his people specifically. Know the needs in their lives and you can pray specifically. If they are open, let them know of your praying for them. It can be a powerful binding agent.
7) It’s a means to connect with non-believers. Evangelism is sometimes difficult because we don’t know how to engage people we don’t already know. Learning to ask simple questions like, “Where are you from?” and “Tell me about your family?” can lead to “Do you attend church?” or “Do you have a relationship with Christ.” Of course, this must be handled with extreme caution. There are legal considerations, as well as ethical ones, if people feel they must “accept Christ” in order to please the boss.