How to Make Everyone You Meet Feel Special
“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.” ~Maya Angelou
How people think and behave fascinate me. My fascination might have been born out of my inherent curiosity that led to my carving out an unconventional career path. I count commercial actor, news producer, corporate manager, consultant and writer among the things I did for a living. Some still remain deep passions. The varied careers afforded me the chance to interact with people from all walks of life.
People who fascinate me the most are ones Pharrell Williams sang about. They are the people who go about conducting their lives as if they are “like a room without a roof.” A room without a roof is a room with limitless possibilities.
In his recent interview with CBS News Sunday Morning, Williams asserted that his success was possible only because he received help from others. He credited his high school band teachers and a number of collaborators throughout his career.
Williams’ interview started me thinking about the special type of people who make others feel good about themselves. Often we picture them as extroverts like Oprah Winfrey. In my own life, these celebrated giants are tough talking, cynical and even rough around the edges. They are not necessarily charismatic, charming or the self-proclaimed “people person.”
What these people have in common, though, is their unique brand of making others feel important and validated. While you may not remember every word of wisdom they shared, you simply cannot forget the way they make you feel - like a million bucks.
Here are five things they do that are worth noting. Some may already be ingrained habits for you. If not, try them out. These acts, whether practiced in a personal or professional setting, speak louder and more eloquent than words.
5 Ways to Make Everyone You Meet Feel Special
Be on time. I wonder how many of us would keep the President of the United States or the Pope waiting? Yet, we are often guilty of keeping the most important people in our lives waiting. We tried to do too much.
Even if the person is a casual acquaintance, bear in mind the unintended messages you are sending when you run late of meeting someone. I don’t value your time as much as I value mine.
Smile warmly. You know what the feeling is like, to walk into a meeting with a colleague or a boss, and the person does not bother looking up from what he or she is doing and remains unsmiling long after you walked into the room.
Now, think how differently it feels when you are meeting someone, and his or her eyes immediately light up upon seeing you, and you are greeted with a warm smile. It sets a different tone, doesn’t it?
Hang on to their every word. The demands of modern life have forced us to selectively listen. Instead of being fully present, we often let our minds wander to another conversation from earlier in the day, or think of the next point we want to make.
In doing so, we missed out on the nuances and possibly, the true meaning behind the words. We missed the unspoken things, the telltale body language that gets to the heart of the issue.
The next time you find your mind wandering, just remember there is nothing more important to a speaker than to have an audience who hangs on to his or her every word.
Let go of distractions. Imagine how it felt when you were about to make an important point and the person you were talking to interrupts to take a call. Not only was it difficult to conduct a meeting or have a meaningful discussion but you started to feel that you’re the distraction.
If you’re the person guilty of taking the call, you may not recognize that it can create negative perceptions. It may be saying that you don’t know how to set boundaries or that you have a need to look busy in order to feel important.
Rectifying this situation is easy. Put the phone on vibrate, and after dispensing with pleasantries, let the other person know that you are dealing with an unfinished emergency. Tell them prior to the start of your meeting that you might be called upon to step in to provide assistance. I find that by doing this, the other person is often understanding and appreciative of the heads up.
If you are not anticipating an emergency, try untethering yourself from your phone. Yes, put it out of sight.
Refrain from complaining. Did you ever have a meeting with someone who before sitting down would tick off a litany of things that went wrong with his or her day?
All of us are guilty of venting. The question to ask ourselves the next time we feel a need is, does this person deserve to have his or her day spoiled like mine was?
Your turn. What would you add to this list?