For quite some time now I have had two objectives when I walk into a classroom: (1) Don’t Be Boring, and (2) Add Value. I’d like to think that I have made progress on both of those goals as I provide workforce training. So when I was presented with a list of How to Make Your Team Better (or, How to Add Value to Those Around You), I was instantly interested and dove right in.
Rapidly, I realized that I needed to write about the list. Reflection on the items would certainly be helpful toward my two teaching objectives! Now as I sit down to type, my heart is racing and I’m apprehensive. For although I am describing the 7 Ways to Add Value to Others, I am admonishing myself. Those who know me best know that I have much room for growth! With that as an introduction, let’s take a pass through the list together.
1. Be an Encourager
Have you ever asked anyone to encourage you? I recently did, and discovered once again that having a word of encouragement from someone that you care about is essential to life. But what does it look like to be an encourager to those around you? When working through an issue with a coworker via email, instead of ending with a short word of thanks, start the email with it.
Master the simple technique of Like Best/Next Time (LB/NT) as a way to reflect and provide feedback. Don’t just think about thanking someone or complimenting them, but verbalize it. Smile as you talk. And wave if appropriate, acknowledging someone’s presence when you see them from a distance. People perceive open-handed gestures as welcoming – they encourage connection and add value to the relationship.
“But out of all these gestures, the most indicative of being outgoing is the smile. Not only is it found as likeable by others, it also encourages them to start or continue interacting with you.”Mia Conrad, Social Anxiety
2. Develop Strong Relationships
People were created to be in relationships. No one can make it through life on their own. The foundation of strong friendships and durable relationships are trust, closeness, and openness. These are things that many of us struggle to build throughout our lives. I expect that one never “arrives” in this area, as there is always room for improvement and growth.
As noted by Dale Carnegie, a great way to develop a relationship is to be curious about others. Your interest in them validates, encourages, and adds value!
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”Dale Carnegie, writer and lecturer
3. Listen Deeply
Well, this just completes Dale Carnegie’s observation above, doesn’t it? Developing strong relationships is done through being interested in others, which relies upon communication to complete the connection.
The impact of your interest in them hinges on listening to them and what they say: listening and understanding. But perhaps it is worth pointing out that you must also learn to listen to the other ways people communicate, not just to their words.
“Some people feel they can express themselves through art since they have a hard time communicating in reality.”Daniel Smith, Banned Subconcious Mind Secrets
4. Provide (and seek) Feedback
Many of us find it easier to give feedback than to get it. My problem is that I usually want feedback, but when I get it, the comment is not what I want to hear and I want desperately to get away from it. But, in my work (training) it is routine to ask for feedback from the students at the end of the course. I eagerly look forward to reading their comments, even when occasionally I find something that is critical of my efforts. The trick becomes, then, absorbing the information and deciding when and how to act upon it. Incorporating feedback and improving yourself is a way to improve how you add value to others in the future.
“A great sign of immaturity is to become very angry or hurt at the slightest criticism from others. A mature person profits from criticism.”Vince Lombardi, The Essential Vince Lombardi
5. Raise the Bar
Initially, this comment may be interpreted as desiring to be a perfectionist, but that’s not accurate. Instead, think of a high jumper or pole-vaulter, seeking to improve their highest jump. It is not enough for them to reach a certain value and stay there. They increase the difficulty and challenge themselves to improve – one little increment at a time. The important thing is the consistent improvement and not settling for the status quo.
You can do that for your team and for others. But remember, you don’t raise the bar for them and leave yours alone: rather, raise the bar for yourself first, and then allow others to follow your lead or provide them with gentle encouragement to improve. In this way, you add value not only to individuals, but to the overall output of your team as you work with others and raise the bar of performance, output, and quality.
“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.”Mia Hamm, professional volleyball player
6. Think Abundance
Occasionally in life, we run across a scenario with limited resources. This means that if I get one, then you don’t, and vice versa. But examples of this (although they seem very important to us personally at the moment we encounter them) are actually the exception instead of the rule. Often, I make the mistake of thinking that life is zero-sum: everything is like a pie with a finite number of slices available. Instead, we need to realize the abundance of the world around us. There is plenty to go around.
Thus, hoarding my resources is not needed. By adding value to others, I am not reducing the value that I can receive from others. In fact, the value I get back from them is often multiplied many times over that which I give. If I think abundance, I have no problem giving of what I have to others, whether it is my time, my talents/abilities, and even my treasure. I am free to add value to others.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”Albert Einstein
7. Assist When Possible
Clearly, most people like to help others. But, sometimes that help is not welcome or beneficial. We should carefully evaluate when our assistance of others is proper, practical, and possible. In some relationships, we should wait until assistance is requested (proper). Although we have the desire to help, perhaps our ability to help is hindered by time and space – we are not in the right place or at the right time to be able to render aid (practical). Finally, we can only offer our help in cases where it makes sense (possible). In other words, we can’t assist in areas outside of our knowledge or experience – in those cases, we can certainly encourage or support!
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”John Bunyan
John Maxwell summarizes the best way to succeed in life in his little book 3 Things Successful People Do. They know their purpose, they grow in their purpose, and they sow seeds of value in others. We do the last thing, adding value to others, through the 7 items in this list.
Add Value: 7 Steps to Make it Happen, today’s ActionLink. Look for more ActionLinks from P H Tyson & Associates!