Question: I was recently promoted to a managerial position that I’d had my sights on for a long time, but now I’m not sure I’m cut out for this job. It seems that everything I say or do results in a misunderstanding between my fellow managers and me. Any advice?
There are two opposite attitudes in life. Some people’s motivational attitude inspires them to work harder and be better. They also have a knack for inspiring others to be the same. Not so the people that I’ll call “de-motivators”: they have the opposite effect. You may end up feeling inept and negative about yourself when around them, and perhaps their “lectures” and “helpful” advice intimidate rather than inspire.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all had someone say a few words of encouragement that radically changed our day or the course of events, just because of the extra inspiration and change of perspective those words brought. Maybe we were at the end of our rope, and someone’s encouragement opened a whole new horizon of possibilities. Or maybe we’d simply had a long and tiring day, and a few cheerful words renewed our inspiration and energy.
It’s human nature to form quick opinions based on the things we see and hear, without taking the time to dig deeper. “Do you look at things according to the outward appearance?”1 the apostle Paul cautioned the Christians in Corinth 2,000 years ago.
Jesus also had advice on the topic: “Stop judging by mere appearances,”2 He pleaded. But if we’re honest, most of us would probably admit to doing just that, at least some of the time. Here’s a passage that got me thinking about how I see others:
For years I monitored children during recess and playground activities. Between all the running, jumping, rowdiness, and good-natured play, someone would often end up getting run into, tripped, shoved, etc.
Often the child who had caused the accidents would immediately raise his or her hands and say, “It’s not my fault” or “I didn’t do it on purpose!” But of course, establishing guilt wasn’t the immediate priority. The most important issue is the welfare of the “injured” one.
No, I’m not talking about coffee break romances, but rather about whether it’s possible to run a successful business with love. An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that it is.1 It uses the analogy of the computer. Love should be the operating system (OS), and the other business strategies—sales, marketing, distribution, etc.—the apps. The apps are the most visible working part of the computer, but they’re only stable if there’s a strong OS.
Smiles are powerful. You’ve probably met a few gifted people, like I have, who radiate warmth and friendliness all the time. They smile so much that just being around them charges your spiritual battery. Babies are experts in this as well. Without saying a word, they lighten your day with their smiles.
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you—not because they are nice, but because you are.
Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
The small cafeteria at our workplace was abuzz with chatter. Colleagues sat in groups and the room was humming with conversation. That morning I felt I had little to contribute and opted to sit alone. Staring out the window, I was lost in troubled contemplation of recent loss, rough edges in my working relationships, and a nagging health issue, and I wondered when I would finally reach the proverbial end of the tunnel where the sun shines again.
Good listening takes effort. Notice the traits of the people whom you enjoy talking to, the good listeners. They show their interest with their eyes, posture, and the ways they react. It’s a sort of indescribable mood that says, I enjoy listening to you. You’re important to me. A calmness and patience about them tells you, Take your time. I have nothing more vital to do at the moment than to hear what you have to say.