We should picture everyone we meet as wearing an invisible sign saying, “Make me feel important.” ~Dale Carnegie
I once had my annual review with my manager who answered an ‘important’ phone call in the middle of our session. The review was already contentious so this interruption during an interaction that was supposed to focus on me, my past years work, expectations for my future, thoroughly pissed me off. It was an encounter that forever tainted my relationship with the manager.
When we encounter a person we deem important, our demeanor changes, our actions are affected. We reflexively smile. We take the time – MAKE the time – to notice the person. We MAKE the time to interact with the person. We MAKE the time to focus our undivided attention on that person. The sum total of our interactions let that person know we feel they are important.
How often do we look at the average Joe, the average Jane, the average gender fluid person, the average gender non binary person and immediately think, this is an important person? Based on my own actions, I would say the thought is a rarity. I would also venture to say the thought is fleeting even when we interact with those closest to us. We may love them but, I doubt, this translates into a person feeling truly important for who they are as an individual.
When I coach someone in the business world, I approach them as someone who is important. I ensure our 1:1 meetings are distraction free. I ensure our interactions are laser focused on the individual and their needs. I make sure I give them appropriate, candid feedback to aid their growth. I am not this diligent when interacting with them informally, interactions which can be superficial. It makes me wonder, does this less diligent focus undermine my efforts to ensure they feel important in our formal meetings? Do I come across as a hypocrite?
Fact is, I have many encounters during which my interactions with other people tend toward superficiality. I value people as unique individuals, however, my actions likely don’t say, “you are important in my eyes.” Something needs to change. I need to change.
People tend to treat others as they feel about themselves. If we throw a pebble in the pond of humanity and treat someone as important, they are more likely to feel valued. They are more likely to have a spring in their step. The positivity is more likely to ripple through the pond as they pass the positive feeling onto others, feelings that are passed on either intentionally in focused interaction or unintentionally as their good feelings radiate.
I encourage you to join with me and throw a handful of pebbles – of you are important pebbles – into the world, today. Scatter them wide and far and randomly. Those ripples will fan out touching the hearts of people you will never encounter but who will be positively affected because you made the choice to ensure others feel important.