Want to make a huge difference in someone’s life? Here are things you should say every day to your employees, colleagues, family members, friends, and everyone you care about:
“Here’s what I’m thinking.”
You’re in charge, but that doesn’t mean you’re smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.
Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.
Authority can make you “right,” but collaboration makes everyone right–and makes everyone pull together.
“I was wrong.”
I once came up with what I thought was an awesome plan to improve overall productivity by moving a crew to a different shift on an open production line. The inconvenience to the crew was considerable, but the payoff seemed worth it. On paper, it was perfect.
In practice, it wasn’t.
So, a few weeks later, I met with the crew and said, “I know you didn’t think this would work, and you were right. I was wrong. Let’s move you back to your original shift.”
I felt terrible. I felt stupid. I was sure I’d lost any respect they had for me.
It turns out I was wrong about that, too. Later one employee said, “I didn’t really know you, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”
When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.
“That was awesome.”
No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone–pick anyone–who does or did something well and say, “Wow, that was great how you…”
And feel free to go back in time. Saying “Earlier, I was thinking about how you handled that employee issue last month…” can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (It could even make a bigger impact, because it shows you still remember what happened last month, and you still think about it.)
Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.
Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?
The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”
Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
“Can you help me?”
When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you help me?”
I promise you’ll get help. And in the process you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.
And are all qualities of a great friend.
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