Research regularly tells us people leave work-and probably many relationships- because they don’t feel valued. They crave significance. The assurance that they matter. The knowledge that what they bring to work, relationships and the world in general is appreciated.
I’m surprised at the number of people whose friendly natures hide a deep craving to feel valued. (Actually isn’t that all of us at one time or another?) Sometimes it’s at work. Sometimes it’s in social settings. Sometimes it’s at Uni or even at home. While I believe Eleanor Roosevelt’s view of ‘People can’t make us feel bad unless we let them.’, I think there are some people who need help out of the vortex of low self opinion. These aren’t people who want their name in lights or to become international superstars. They just want to feel like they matter to those they work and associate with. It doesn’t take much.
During my second trip to Doha, I spent a lot of time in my hotel room, crunching the numbers from the survey I conducted for one of the large multinationals at Ras Laffan. I was often in my room when Ben came to clean it. Through our conversations I learned he was away from his pregnant wife and twin baby boys because in his home country he could not get work. His low paying housekeeping job in Doha was better than unemployment back home. As he got to know me, he shared experiences that described a very unreasonable supervisor who expected him to work long hours with no over time pay and regularly yelled at staff for no apparent reason. I always asked about his family and enjoyed the updated baby photos that arrived weekly.
The day I left Doha, Ben arrived at work early to say good bye to me and ask if we could stay in touch. As we exchanged contact details, he told me ‘In all the months I’ve worked here, you’re the first guest who treated me like a real person. No one ever has a conversation with me or asks me about my family or my life. You made me very happy and I’ll always remember it.’
Simple conversation. A genuine interest and listening ear helped one person feel a bit more significant. That was over five years ago and we are still in contact and hope some day to have a catch up when I return to Doha where I can meet the rest of his family, who are now with him.
One small act of genuine encouragement can go a long way to contribute to a person’s sense of significance. Behind many smiles are people aching for acceptance, encouragement and just a small sign they are valued and appreciated.
Who can you encourage this week? Or include in a conversation when they are shy and quiet in a group? Or extend a ‘thank you’ to for something they’ve done for you?
You never know what it might do to make their day their week or even their month! And it will probably make your day as well.