A lot of the advice you’ll see offered in the world – and let’s face it: a lot of the advice I give – centers around things you can to do make yourself and your world better. But the other side of that coin is just as important.
I’m talking now about the things you can do to help others, and to make their world better for them.
Here are a few ideas for how to utilize the power of giving in your everyday work and life:
Listen to Others
We all love to talk about ourselves, our family, our ideas, our history, our successes, and more. But if you can stop talking for a minute, you can realize that a great way to give is to listen to other people.
Listening helps other people feel better about themselves. It helps them clarify their thoughts and feelings. It makes them feel more involved, and more effective. It’s a way to provide validation of who they are and support for what they think.
Help Them Achieve Their Goals
If you don’t already know this, you might be surprised to discover that a few minutes of your time and effort can have a big impact on the productivity and success of others – without compromising your own!
Sometimes a person just needs a hand with a bit of heavy lifting. Maybe they need an piece of data that you have at your fingertips, or a tool you’re not using at the moment, or a suggestion about how to deal with a roadblock that seems insurmountable to them.
You don’t have to throw away your own agenda to offer a specific piece of help to another person, at a time and in a way that will make a major difference to their level of productivity and success.
Saying “Thank you” or “I appreciate what you’ve done” takes very little of your time, but can provide a big burst of energy and motivation to another person, particularly if they are feeling overlooked at the moment.
Sometimes, you don’t even have to use words. Leaving a muffin on someone’s desk or bringing them their print-out as you pass their office are silent messages of appreciation and thanks.
Many times, you’re asked to share, and it’s often extremely helpful when you do. But other times, you can take the initiative and share without being asked.
The simple act of sharing – anything from office supplies to a box of cookies or a useful piece of information – is an easy but imporant way to give a lift to other people.
Ever notice how retail employees now almost always guide you to the item you’re asking about, instead of merely pointing or mumbling “Aisle 3”? Taking a minute to offer personal guidance not only conveys the information more accurately, but also makes the person receiving the guidance feel noticed, appreciated, and rewarded.
Unless it’s part of your job description, you don’t always have to drop what you’re doing to guide people in your work and your life who need help. But giving other people a little in-person guidance now and then will help spread positive feelings and accurate information among those who are trying to find their way in your environment.
Practice “Random Acts of Kindness”
You can leave off the “Senseless Acts of Beauty,” if that’s a bridge too far for you. But random acts of kindness can elevate an ordinary moment into something far happier, far more meaningful and even transformative.
When you do something kind to someone without being asked, without even knowing the other person very well, you plant a stake in the ground that conveys an extremely positive message, along the lines of: “we’re in this together, and we can prevail.”
The secret everybody eventually learns, of course, is that the more you help others, the more you help yourself.
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