People need people. This was brought to my attention again when Jay was reading Deep Survival a book about the attitudes and behaviors that survivors of accidents and natural disasters exhibit. Many lost adults don’t stay still so that they can be found during a grid search. They keep moving in an apparent attempt to reconnect with other people—anything but spending time alone. To be seen is to feel alive, safe and significant.
There is often a similar longing to be seen in the work environment. Team members want and need acknowledgments as much as lost hikers. It is necessary to pay employees, but that isn’t sufficient to motivate the best critical thinking or creativity. One of the techniques leaders need to develop is the ability to make a team member feel seen at a time that encourages them to repeat a positive action, attitude or effort.
Here are some ways to give a little acknowledgment in everyday situations:
Brighten just a bit each time a person looks at you and they will tend to look again. Jay and I use this technique to get people to focus on me when they’re talking to a group. And conversely you can look down or look away to encourage them to address someone else.
Say “Thank You!” when people give you tough feedback and they will tend to continue the behavior of daring to risk your displeasure.
Acknowledge a project or task that is completed on time and the positive attention will tend to nudge the employee toward getting the next one done on time.
Say a cheerful “Good Morning” right away when a chronically tardy employee shows up on time and you’re more likely to see a bit more on-time behavior.
If you work for someone, you might try completing a project early when it’s handed out early and holding it back until the last minute when it’s given to you late. This is different from the traditional “passive-aggressive” attitude because you’re working toward a solution that is intended to help both of you. You just need to be very clear that the goal is a smoother working relationship, not just one that satisfies you.
Say hi to team members as if they’re the one you’re pleased to see and they will more likely act like someone you want to see.
Positive feedback, smiles and noticing others’ constructive behaviors, all increase the odds of a repeat performance.
For more ways to increase your effectiveness and influence the outcomes you’re looking for, please call us at 978-446-9600 or email us.
Jay’s book Simple Steps to Change: Your Business, Your Life is a good resource, with lots of ideas, as well. You can read parts of it or purchase it on Amazon.