Introduction

Let me tell you a story. A long time ago, back when I was still cutting my teeth in the business world, I landed my first executive role at a startup. It was an exciting time; I had the chance to make real changes and push for innovation. But, the weight of responsibility also hit me like a truck. I was a big shot now, right? Everyone should just listen to me because I knew best. Well, wasn’t I in for a surprise?

I soon found myself navigating a sea of disengagement and resistance. The team was there physically, but their hearts and minds? Those were on vacation, somewhere in the Bahamas, sipping on margaritas. Now, I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but let’s just say I had to pivot—fast.

It took me a minute, but I finally got it: my job wasn’t just to lead, but to make people feel important. I had to create an environment where people felt valued, appreciated, heard, and respected. And no, it wasn’t as simple as buying a box of donuts every Friday (although, let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good donut?).

The concept of making others feel important, which I am going to delve into, is a game-changer, a secret sauce, a golden nugget. And no, it’s not about pandering to people’s egos or being disingenuous. It’s about recognizing the inherent value in others, and understanding the impact of that recognition on your personal and professional life.

You might be thinking, “Hey, I’m just trying to pay my bills and get through the day. I don’t have time for this touchy-feely stuff.” But trust me, you do. You really do. It’s the difference between a good leader and a great one, between a forgettable brand and one that’s top-of-mind, between being just another face in the crowd and the one that stands out.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this piece. We’ll debunk myths, share some secrets, and hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll see the world a little differently. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Myth of the Lone Wolf

There’s a story we love to tell in our culture. It’s the story of the Lone Wolf—the solitary hero who carves their own path, never needing anyone else. We see it in movies, we read about it in books, and we idolize it in our leaders. The Lone Wolf is strong, independent, and untamed. But here’s the kicker: it’s a load of baloney.

Let me say it loud for the people in the back: success is not a solo journey.

You see, the world of business and entrepreneurship is not a wilderness where only the fittest survive. It’s more like a bustling city, where connections, networks, and relationships are the lifeblood of success. The people you work with—your team, your customers, your partners—they’re not just chess pieces in your master plan. They’re the building blocks of your success. Ignore this, and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Independence and self-reliance are important. They’ll get you started and help you navigate the rough waters. But to make a real impact—to create something bigger than yourself—you need others. And that’s where the concept of making people feel important comes in.

Here’s a secret: people don’t like feeling like a cog in a machine. They want to feel seen, heard, and valued. They want to feel important. And when they do, they bring their best to the table. They’re more engaged, more creative, more loyal. They’ll go the extra mile and then some.

The Lone Wolf doesn’t inspire this kind of commitment. The Lone Wolf doesn’t build a culture where people feel they matter. Only leaders who understand the power of making people feel important can do that.

You want to win at the game of business? Stop trying to be a Lone Wolf. Start valuing the pack. And the first step is learning how to listen.

The Subtle Art of Listening

Ever been stuck in a conversation where the other person does all the talking and none of the listening? Yeah, it’s about as fun as a root canal. But let’s flip the script. Ever found yourself so eager to put your point across that you barely paid attention to what the other person was saying? Guilty as charged, right?

We’ve all been there. We’re human, after all. But when it comes to making people feel important, we need to get better at listening. And I’m not talking about that half-hearted, nod-your-head-while-checking-your-phone kind of listening. I’m talking about active listening.

Active listening isn’t just about hearing the words coming out of someone’s mouth. It’s about understanding the emotions, intentions, and thoughts behind those words. It’s about paying attention to body language, tone of voice, and the things left unsaid. It’s about being present, engaged, and responsive.

Sounds exhausting, right? But believe me, it’s worth it.

When you really listen to someone, you’re telling them, “Hey, what you’re saying matters to me. You matter to me.” And that’s a powerful message. It makes people feel valued and appreciated. It makes them feel important.

So how can you become a better listener? Start by putting your phone away. I mean it. No distractions. Show that you’re engaged with non-verbal cues like nodding and maintaining eye contact. Ask follow-up questions to show that you’re interested and to clarify understanding. Resist the urge to interrupt or impose your thoughts. And above all, be patient. Good listening takes practice.

The benefits? Stronger relationships, better understanding, and a deeper level of trust and respect. And these are not just nice-to-haves. They’re the fuel for success in your personal and professional life.

Listening might seem like a passive act, but it’s not. It’s a powerful tool for influence and impact. So next time you’re in a conversation, take a step back, and really listen. You might be surprised at what you hear.

The Power of Inquiry

Now let’s talk about the power of asking for others’ opinions. Ever been in a room where someone says, “Hey, I’d love to know what you think about this?” Remember how good that felt? That’s the magic of inquiry.

Asking for someone’s input isn’t about stroking their ego. It’s about showing them that you value their insights and perspectives. It’s about recognizing that they bring something unique to the table and that their contribution matters.

Let’s be real, we all love to share our thoughts and ideas. But when you’re the one asking for them, you’re giving someone a chance to shine. You’re giving them a sense of importance and respect.

And the thing is, it’s not about agreeing with everything they say. It’s about showing them that their opinion is valued and considered.

There’s a great way to do this that I like to call the “what if” approach. Instead of shooting down an idea right away, ask “what if we tried this?” or “what if we looked at it this way?” It’s a simple technique, but it opens up a world of possibilities. It fosters creativity, encourages collaboration, and above all, makes people feel important.

Incorporating this strategy in your daily interactions can be as simple as asking your team for their input on a new project, asking your partner where they’d like to go for dinner, or asking your friends what they think about your latest crazy idea.

When you start doing this, something amazing happens. People start to open up. They start to share their ideas more freely. They feel heard and valued. They feel important.

The power of inquiry is not about gathering information. It’s about building relationships. It’s about fostering a culture where everyone’s input is valued. It’s about making people feel important.

So, go ahead. Ask for someone’s opinion. You might just make their day.

The Magic of Acknowledgment

Now, let’s address a crucial element often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life – the magic of acknowledgment. Ever had that warm, fuzzy feeling when someone noticed your hard work and took the time to appreciate it? It’s like having an extra shot of espresso in your latte – it perks you right up.

Acknowledgment isn’t about plastering a fake smile and saying, “Good job.” It’s about appreciating someone’s effort genuinely and meaningfully. It’s about recognizing their achievements, no matter how big or small, and showing them that their work is valued.

When you acknowledge someone, you’re telling them, “I see you. I appreciate you. You’re important.” And that’s a message that goes straight to the heart.

Giving acknowledgment might seem straightforward, but there’s an art to doing it effectively. It starts with being observant. Notice the effort people put into their work, the little things they do that often go overlooked. Then, be specific in your appreciation. Instead of a generic “good job,” tell them exactly what you appreciated and why.

Finally, be sincere. Genuine acknowledgment can’t be faked. It comes from the heart, and people can tell the difference. Remember, it’s not about flattery. It’s about showing genuine appreciation for someone’s effort and achievement.

Acknowledgment can transform your personal and professional relationships. It builds trust, boosts morale, and fosters a positive environment. It’s like a spark that ignites a fire of motivation and dedication.

The beauty of acknowledgment is that it costs nothing but means everything. So, next time you see someone doing a great job, take a moment to acknowledge them. Make them feel seen. Make them feel important.

The Contrast: Making People Feel Important vs Ignoring Them

Alright, now that we’ve laid out some of the strategies for making people feel important, let’s delve into some contrasting scenarios. Let’s talk about what happens when you make people feel important versus when you ignore them. It’s like the difference between turning up the music and dancing like nobody’s watching versus sitting in silence.

So, let’s start with the fun part – making people feel important. You’ve seen this scenario before. It’s that boss who asks for your opinion, that friend who genuinely listens, that partner who acknowledges your efforts. When you feel important, you feel seen, heard, and valued. You’re willing to go the extra mile, share your ideas, and contribute to your fullest. In short, you feel like a rockstar.

Now, on the flip side, what happens when you’re ignored? It’s like being invisible. You feel unheard, unappreciated, and unimportant. Your motivation wanes, your creativity stagnates, and you’re less likely to put in your best effort. It’s the equivalent of trying to dance with two left feet – it just doesn’t work.

Understanding this contrast is essential. Because let’s face it – nobody wants to feel like they’re invisible. Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role here. It’s about being aware of how your actions and words impact others. It’s about understanding that your approach to communication can make or break someone’s day.

Look around. You’ll see examples of successful leaders who have mastered this. They’re the ones who have thriving teams, happy clients, and strong relationships. They understand the power of making people feel important. And guess what? They’re winning at this game of influence.

So, whether you’re a leader, a partner, a friend, or just a fellow human being – remember this contrast. Remember the power you have to make someone feel important. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? To feel seen, heard, and valued? To feel important?

Humorous Side of Influence: Lightening up the Process

Alright, enough of the serious stuff. Let’s lighten the mood and talk about the humorous side of influence. Because let’s face it, if we can’t have a laugh while we’re at it, what’s the point?

There’s a saying, “laughter is the best medicine,” and it’s not just for those belly-ache kind of days. Infusing humor and light-heartedness in our interactions can have some serious benefits. And yes, it can even aid in making people feel important and appreciated.

Humor is the ultimate ice-breaker. It disarms defenses, lowers barriers, and sets the stage for authentic interactions. Imagine going into a tense meeting, and the boss kicks it off with a joke. The tension deflates like a popped balloon, and suddenly, the meeting doesn’t seem so bad after all.

And here’s the kicker: humor can amplify the feeling of importance. Remember the last time someone made a funny compliment about your work? It probably made your day. And the next time you had a task, didn’t you jump right in, ready to slay it?

But wait, let’s not get too carried away. There’s a fine line between being funny and being inappropriate or offensive. Keep the humor light, respectful, and relevant. No one wants a clown for a boss or a colleague.

Now, let’s illustrate the benefits of humor in communication with some exaggerated examples. Picture this: You’re in a team meeting, brainstorming ideas for a project. Suddenly, someone suggests an idea so out-of-the-box that it sounds ridiculous. Instead of dismissing it, you all start laughing and building on that crazy idea. The meeting turns from a typical brainstorming session into a laughter-filled creativity fest. And the end result? A game-changing concept that makes your project a hit.

That’s the power of humor. It creates an environment of joy, creativity, and openness, where everyone feels valued, and ideas flow freely. So, lighten up, crack a joke, share a funny anecdote. Remember, the road to influence doesn’t have to be a drag. With humor, it can be a fun, laughter-filled journey.

Bringing it All Together: From Theory to Practice

Whew! It feels like we’ve been on a whirlwind journey, doesn’t it? We’ve busted the lone wolf myth, we’ve dived into the art of listening, we’ve unleashed the power of inquiry, we’ve mastered the magic of acknowledgment, we’ve danced around the contrast of making people feel important vs. ignoring them, and we’ve laughed our way through the humorous side of influence. Now it’s time to bring it all together, to move from theory to practice. Strap in, and let’s do this.

First off, let’s do a quick recap. The key to this game of influence isn’t about manipulation or control. It’s about making people feel important. When people feel valued and appreciated, they’re more engaged, motivated, and productive. They’re willing to contribute their best to the team’s success. And this is where you come in. Your words, your actions, and your attitude can either lift people up or push them down. Choose wisely.

So, how can you start applying these strategies in your daily life? It’s simple – just start. Start by genuinely listening when someone is talking to you. Show interest, ask questions, and give feedback. Stop multi-tasking and give them your full attention. Make them feel heard.

Next, tap into the power of inquiry. Ask for others’ opinions and invite their input. Encourage open discussions and value diverse perspectives. When people feel their opinion matters, they feel respected and important.

And of course, let’s not forget the magic of acknowledgment. Recognize others’ achievements, no matter how big or small. A simple ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ can go a long way. When you acknowledge someone’s efforts, they feel appreciated and motivated to continue doing their best.

Lastly, lighten up the process. Use humor to break the ice and build connections. Be the one who brings a smile to people’s faces. When you make someone laugh, you make them feel good. And who doesn’t want to feel good?

Remember, making others feel important isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a continuous process. It’s about building relationships based on respect, trust, and appreciation. So, start today. Start now. Experience the transformational power of making others feel important. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Conclusion

Alright, friends, we’ve come to the end of this little adventure, but let me tell you, this is only the beginning of a fantastic journey for you. As we wrap up this winding expedition through the game of influence, let’s recap on the trump card we’ve been studying, the power, and influence gained by making people feel important. It’s a simple yet impactful trick that’s going to help you turn heads and win hearts.

We’ve drilled down into the power of listening – I mean, really listening, not just that thing you do when you’re waiting for your turn to speak. We’ve discovered how asking questions and soliciting opinions isn’t just a way to keep a conversation alive, but it’s a tool to make people feel valued, important, and a part of the process.

Acknowledgment, that’s another gem we’ve unearthed. A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘great job’ is worth more than you might realize. It’s like watering a plant – do it right, and you’ll see it grow, contributing to a positive environment that’s just ripe for success.

Now, don’t forget the contrast we discussed. Making people feel important vs. ignoring them – one’s a ticket to Successville, the other… well, let’s just say you don’t want to go there. Emphasizing the importance of others is not just good karma; it’s good business.

And finally, let’s remember to keep things light. Adding humor to your interactions not only makes you approachable and likable, but it also makes people feel good. And when people feel good, they associate that feeling with you.

So there you have it, friends – your cheat code to winning at the game of influence. Now, it’s up to you to apply it. Get out there and start making people feel like the rock stars they truly are.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.