How to Take Interest in Others
Leadership is about effective communication; if you understand people, you can motivate them. You’ll know exactly where they stand and where they’re coming from and will be able to create a positive environment to achieve the greatest results through your team.
The key to understanding people is to take an avid interest in them. And that’s not always easy, especially if you share no common interests. However, in all cases, make it a challenge, with an attitude of ‘what can I do for these employees to fulfil them so they can produce their best’. The focus is on them and not you. Persist and the rewards will be fully justified.
However, on the other side team members will quickly be aware if your motives are only on what they can do for you, and that will destroy your integrity and their trust – and you don’t want to go there.
1. Make Eye Contact
The most successful way to reinforce the bond between yourself and other people is to look them in the eye and smile. Eye contact is one of the most crucial avenues we have for communication. In business it sends subtle signals; We tend to be uneasy with someone that won’t look you in the eye. Conversely, there’s a message of trust in those that engage you eye to eye. They exude an approachable stance which states, “You are important to me. I am interested in you and your requirements”.
These are the attributes which people look for when dealing with others. And when you smile, it shows that you are happy to be dealing with them. And a cheerful person invariably does a better job than those who are miserable. Your face tells people who you are.
Now Read: Embracing Mistakes
2. Listen to What They Have to Say and Ask Questions
Listen to people intently. Many leaders know that listening is the most important facet of communication. Unfortunately, however, too many only pay lip service to this aspect – they bend forward and pay you the utmost attention whilst you speak, nodding appreciatively at your wisdom but they haven’t heard a word. With closed minds they have already made their decision based on what THEY think! Don’t think until you’ve listened!
So how do we listen empathically?
Simply by spending time, quality time, with your employees. Take an enthusiastic interest in them and ask question after question. What do you mean? Please explain. How do you feel about this? Kindly elaborate. When? Why? Where? Yes, it is invariably a hassle; we have deadlines and the clock is counting down, but there is an old military adage which says: “Time spent in reconnaissance, is not time wasted.”
If they are slow to open up, ask them first about their interests; hobbies, family and the like.
3. Avoid Interrupting
And do not interrupt them with your own view; if you do, this merely indicates that their opinion is not important and that yours is. Show them respect – let them finish.
Further, you don’t have to agree with what team members are saying as long as you give them the opportunity to air their views. At least discuss it with them – you might even find that they’ve got a point. The message you are giving them is that you are interested in what they have to say, you value their opinion, you welcome their contribution, you appreciate their input.
And if you show a genuine interest in people, they feel good about themselves and you. They are going to open up and give you a full understanding of their situation. Individuals like to talk about themselves and their experiences.
Further, people will seek your company. They enjoy talking and sharing with you because you listen and encourage. A sense of trust prevails, and this gives you a lot more vital ‘intelligence’ about their real situation and of that in the workplace.
As they share feelings and ideas, you will open up too. Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand then be understood”. We are both receptive to each other and the result of empathic listening is that we see life from another perspective.
The lines of communication are now open, and you will get the right answers and make the correct decisions, based on fact not on feelings. You’ll find revelations that will change your perspective on life.
4. Use Their Name
Use your employee names; they know yours. It shows you care for and acknowledge them. The significance is, “You’re not just a number, you’re one of us.”
And don’t be embarrassed at asking someone’s name for the third time… at least you are seen to be trying and suddenly it sticks.
5. Recognition is Powerful
Say “thank you”, the two most under-rated words in the English language. By showing gratitude to people, you are giving them recognition and respect; two very powerful factors in motivation.
As a leader you should seize every opportunity to motivate people by showing appreciation for their worth, services or input. Ensure everybody in the team, no matter how insignificant their contribution, gets recognition. This is the way to make them feel good about themselves and is the platform for their development.
Yes, I know it’s their job, and they get paid for it……but it does not cost us one cent of breath to say, “Thank you, well done.” And by these effortless gestures you are touching the heart of each individual. They appreciate you and your support – it enhances morale and thereby productivity.
Additionally, pleasure also comes from providing others with encouragement and approval. Giving unto others is rewarding – it makes us feel good!
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