Sometimes, the unexpected can feel good – a recent email I received was a great example. It came from a fellow that I didn’t know but had invited me to connect on LinkedIn (and I realize this happens a lot for most of us). His follow up email caught me by surprise as it did nothing but thank me and express a willingness to be helpful if possible.
What’s so special about this for me? Well, we all sell ourselves in one way or another, but this note made me realize how different it feels when I’m not being asked for anything.
In my last story I quoted the philosopher Immanuel Kant and warned that I’d be doing it again – the additional Kant point that I knew I wanted to share was a key belief about how to treat others. Instead of treating others as a means to an end (the way so many emails and messages can feel), Kant’s guidance is that we need to treat people as an end in themselves, to consider them on their own terms. Perhaps this fellow’s email felt different to me because it wasn’t based on self-interest?
However, we still have to sell ourselves, don’t we? A bit of a paradox, eh?
I recently came across a quote from the poet Maya Angelou that offers a glimpse of insight that seems to help (at least it helps me): “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Of course it’s not easy to think first about how a message will be received by others – it’s so easy (and almost normal in our world) to focus first, if not always, on our own self-interest. I know this is really hard for me. But when I ask myself who the people and groups are that I most appreciate and respect, I have to admit that they are nearly always the folks that make me feel the most welcomed and valued. What do you find is true for you?
I suppose focusing on how we make others feel might not help us win the X Factor on TV and impress Simon Cowell, but I am hoping that there might be an appetite in our world for a bit more substance.
Here’s wishing all of us a little perspective as we consider how our messages and choices truly serve the other people in our lives.
Thanks for sharing time with me; as always, I welcome your feedback. Please feel free to pass this message along to others who may find value.
Partner, McDermott & Bull Executive Search
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“Just Do The Right Thing…Every Time”