The Only Thing People Want To Hear
Today I was on the phone with one of my little sisters who is in the midst of creating her dream career and I told her, "You inspire me so much. How does it feel to be doing something you love like this?" I actually have a personal rule that I try share compliments with people as frequently as they come to mind. I figure, if it's true, then they deserve to hear it! I don't hold back because I'm worried that a person will get a big head. I don't care about that. That's for them to own - not me. I'm just responsible to share. I don't ponder whether they'll think I'm after something or have ulterior motives. Again - not my problem to conquer.
I refuse to be stingy with my support because of fear.
A few years ago I led a session at a yoga retreat on encouragement and I told people that I firmly believe we should catch ourselves (and others!) talking about people in a kind or admirable way and then encourage each other to take it "to the person it belongs to". If I hear one friend saying nice things about another then I go to them and say, "You know what so and so was saying about you?" They always have a flash of a moment of terror and then when I follow it up with, "They loved your yoga class and said it was the best one they've been to in years!" they relax and smile.
We are SO USED to people talking smack about us and SO NOT USED to people sharing encouragement. I've taught and written on this many times, but my dad told me that "encouragement" is to place courage into someone - en-courage. It makes so much sense, right? When someone tells me what I mean to them or that I've done a good job at something, I am immediately filled with courage! I feel bold and powerful and supported. I want everyone around me to feel that way as often as possible.
Every once in a while I run across a person who's not used to this kind of support and verbal praise and they look at me like I have three heads or they treat me with suspicion. You can't win 'em all and I'm not going to let that kind of insecurity rain on my parade.
At the heart of that behavior is a deep well of unworthiness and I don't cater to unworthiness.
You know what people want to hear more than anything else in the world? "You're amazing". They want to hear that in a thousand different ways. Any version will do:
I love you.
You killed that.
I'm so proud of you.
Great job on that project.
You're a real badass, you know that?
Thank you for being there for me.
Thank you for understanding.
You inspire me to grow.
You inspire me to be brave.
You inspire me to be creative.
I love to be around you.
You light up a room.
Just writing these encouraging phrases makes me feel warm and fuzzy! Imagine how it would feel to hear those things from the people around you on a weekly basis. Now, listen. Flattery is not what I'm talking about here. Flattery is fucking empty. It's fluff. It's meaningless and it has motive. I'm talking about real, honest, support - the kind that you 100% mean. If you are committed to vulnerability in your relationships (and you are!) then share. What's that thing the kids say?
Throw that shit around like confetti!
Give people reason to feel freedom & joy... even if for just a quick moment in time.
You know what people honestly don't want to hear? Why you think you're so amazing, inspirational, creative and brave. That's kind of boring. We're all pretty selfish when it comes down to it. Yes, even you. We have busy lives and lots of responsibilities and stresses and we're all just trying to get through the day without eating too much pizza. When we see other people talking about their awesomeness all the time it leaves us feeling... empty. Like we're doing something wrong. Like we missed the boat somehow. We're happy for those people, of course, but is it even real?
Here's the thing: if you want other people to want to connect with you - in your personal life OR in business - then you'll need to solve some problems for THEM. You'll need to practice a hell of a lot of empathy and listening and LOVE so they think to themselves, "Fuck yes! That's exactly how I feel and what I need and you are the person who gets it!" It's the great business & friendship secret all of the greats will tell you about. Remember Dale Carnegie's famous book (written in freaking 1936!), "How to Win Friends and Influence People"? It remains one of the most popular leadership books ever written and has sold over 30 million copies. In it, he wrote, “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.” He also said one of my very favorite things which is this:
"To be interesting, be interested."
Let's pat ourselves on the back a little less and start doing it more for others, shall we? Let's move forward with vulnerable hearts and share, share, share how much the people around us mean to us. Invest in listening rather than always teaching and sharing. Ask for opinions rather than automatically giving yours. Slow down. Pause. Take a deep breath. Practice whole-heartedness. Be vulnerable. Say with candor: You are beautiful. Say with candor: You blow me away with your insights. Say with candor: I LOVE YOU. Invest in sharing encouragement - openly and as often as possible - and see how much you grow.