Understanding the Qualities You Enjoy in Others
"The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other."
-- John C. Maxwell
Today is our first week in a new chapter of a new book! After much consideration, I've decided to guide us through another John Maxwell book titled, Be a People Person. But before we jump into the wisdom within the pages of the first chapter, I have to be completely honest and confess that I would never have considered myself to be a "people person."
If you've ever interacted with me, you may find this confession slightly shocking since I am generally a bubbly, engaging individual who has chosen a profession that is all about people. I show up to every event with a smile and a skip in my step, ready to value and add value to as many people as possible, but by the end of the day, I long to retreat to a place of solitude. As a general rule, people wear me out, and I'm much more comfortable being alone than in the company of others.
If you ask people who have known me for a decade or more, they'll tell you that I've come a long way in finding balance, including others in my life, and not burning out.
But if I've learned one thing, being a "people person" isn't about personality, preferences, backgrounds, careers, religious beliefs, etc.; it's about consciously choosing to value, respect, and intentionally connect with others. As John Maxwell says, "The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other. Our success, fulfillment, and happiness depend on our ability to relate effectively." I believe this so strongly that I have built my entire personal and professional life on that foundation. As we grow through these eleven chapters, I hope you will be better equipped to understand your own tendencies and intentionally navigate the challenges we all face in connecting with and relating to one another.
Think briefly about the qualities and characteristics that the people you enjoy spending your time with possess.
Which characteristics drew you to them?
Are there similar characteristics that different people share?
How do you feel when you are with these people?
John Maxwell offers five universal qualities everyone needs, likes, or responds to in relationships.
1 - You want others to encourage you.
There is no better exercise for adding value to others than reaching out and lifting people up. As you consider the people you enjoy spending time with, how many regularly offer you encouragement? I would wager that you don't have many strong relationships with people who tear you down rather than build you up.
2 - You want others to appreciate you.
William James once said, "the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." How do you feel when others express their appreciation for your work or contribution? How do you feel when they make you feel appreciated for who you are and not even for something you did? When we treat others as important, they will respond accordingly!
3 - You want others to forgive you.
It's no secret that part of being in relationship with people is that inevitably you will get hurt, and you will hurt others; often, this pain is not even the result of conscious or intentional action. Consider a time when you hurt a good friend. How did you feel when you realized the harm that had been done? How did you feel based on their response to you? While hanging on to a grudge gives some a sense of satisfaction, the truth is that people who do not forgive are hurting themselves far more than they are hurting others.
“The happiest people are those who have invested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy.” — John C. Maxwell
4 - You want others to listen to you.
Whether you are telling a story, offering an opinion, sharing an update on a work project, asking a question, etc., something profound happens when someone gives you their full attention and actively listens to you. Think about a time when you tried to connect, and you could tell the person was not listening. How did this make you feel? How did you respond?
5 - You want others to understand you.
Research shows that approximately 50% of workplace conflict and almost 70% of marital/relationship discord result from misunderstandings and miscommunication. Have you ever been misunderstood in your personal or professional relationships? What was the result of that misunderstanding? How did it make you feel?
This week, consider someone in your personal or professional life that you enjoy spending time with and answer these questions:
How do they exemplify these five qualities in their interactions with you?
How do you respond to them when they exemplify these qualities with you?
How does this relationship make you feel compared to one that does include these qualities?
Now consider these qualities for yourself:
How do you exemplify these five qualities in your interactions with others?
How do others respond to you when you exemplify these qualities with them?
Which of these qualities do you need to be more intentional to develop?
How can you be more intentional in developing that quality, and when will you start?