Investors invest in people, not ideas. Customers buy from people, not companies. Employees rally for a great leader. As an entrepreneur, you need relationships to succeed. That means relationships with team members, investors, customers, and vendors. One of the best ways to build a good relationship with anyone is to make them feel important.
Brian Tracy, one of my favorite authors, outlined seven ways to make other people feel important in his book No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline. I believe these techniques are extremely relevant to entrepreneurs and successful business leadership:
- Accept people the way they are. Because most people are judgmental and critical, to be unconditionally accepted by another person raises that person’s self-esteem, reinforces their self-image, and makes that person more likely to accept you and follow your lead.
- Show your appreciation for others. When you appreciate another person for anything they do or say, they will like themselves — and you — more as well. The simplest way to express appreciation is to simply say “Thank you” for an idea, some good feedback, time spent together, or an order.
- Be agreeable. The most welcomed people in every situation are those who are generally friendly and positive with others. Entrepreneurs who tend to be argumentative, whiny, or disagreeable will have a hard time closing a contract, investment, or sale.
- Show your admiration. People invest a lot of personal emotion in their possessions, traits, and accomplishments. When you admire something belonging to another person, it makes him feel better about themselves. Everyone has positives, and it’s up to you to find them. In turn, these positives will be reflected back on you.
- Pay attention to others. The most powerful way to pay attention to someone is to listen attentively first and ask questions before you launch into a monologue answering every question they might never ask. Believe it or not, before you even say a word, you will become a more interesting and intelligent person in their eyes.
- Never criticize, condemn, or complain. In business as well as personal relationships, the most destructive force of all is destructive criticism. It lowers a person’s self-esteem, makes them feel angry and defensive, and causes them to dislike you. Even if your target is not present, it still creates a loss of trust in you because your listener fears they could be your next target.
- Be courteous, concerned, and considerate of everyone you meet. When you treat a person with courtesy and respect, they will value and respect you more. By being concerned, you connect with their emotions. Consideration is the discipline to do and say things to people that are important to them.
Think back on your own recent experiences as a customer or contractor. You don’t always opt for the cheapest product or service if you have a good relationship with the people involved. On the other hand, I rarely buy from someone that treats me like I’m unimportant.
If you want to be a leader, you need to spark followership. Great leaders develop a strong connection with good people who are then inspired to follow. A successful leader motivates people to do more than they might have done without the relationship, and more than they may have even dreamed possible.
So, if you follow these seven techniques to make other people feel important, you will receive a seven-fold payback on your own objectives of being a leader and building a successful business. That’s a lot cheaper and long-lasting than the best advertising and public relations you can buy.