Month: December 2011

Five Ways to Have Impact – Part V

(This is part three of a five-part series. Click here to read Part IPart II , Part III, and Part IV.)

I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.

Being loyal does not mean you have to be a stalker.

Building a relationship takes time – something that most of us seriously lack.

Fortunately with a little more intentionality, you can build relationships with people practically anywhere you go. By practicing loyalty to a certain location or person, you allow for an increased opportunity for relationship.

I’m not saying break the bank by driving to the other side of town and ordering a mocha frape maximum grande every single day of the week. I’m saying as you go look for occasions to build a relationship with people you already come into contact with.

Michael and I like coffee. As in really like coffee. Hold the Starbucks, if you please – we want the good stuff.

We’ve invested in different specialty brewers, grinders and we occasionally even roast our own beans. So does it make sense for us to go out and spend $56 a week on coffee when we have everything we need to make an amazing cup at home? Of course not.

But once a week or so, on our date night, we make a visit to a local coffee shop. Why? Because $8 a week is worth a friendship or at least getting to know someone a little better.

Take for instance the story I shared about the owner of the coffee shop in Houston.

Michael and I have made it a point to visit this particular coffee shop at least once every time we’re in Houston. And because of that effort, it’s opened up a realm of influence into the owner’s life.

So much so that she’s cried on our shoulder and we’ve been able to pray with her. All that just from taking time to talk to her like a human being and not a coffee-making robot.

There are probably countless ways you can build relationship with people. Be creative and think of those you already have regular contact with that no one else does.

Is it the elderly lady that walks her dog when you run every night? Is it the Post Office clerk that works every Friday when you go to mail your bills? Is it the homeless man on that one intersection right before you turn onto the highway?

Is there someone who needs compliment or smile that I’m in a unique position to give? Is there someone worth remembering their name and who needs me to listen when no one else will?

Contrary to what some may still think, this kind of an effort doesn’t make you a stalker or creepy. It may make you an exception to the hundreds of other people that walk through a person’s life – but it does not make you creepy.

You just need to ask yourself: If you don’t care to be loyal and make an investment in that person’s life, who else will?
The place where everybody knows your name.

Just reading those words instantly bring the melody of the theme song from Cheers to mind.

We all want to believe there’s a place for us in the world. A place with genuine smiles, friends, laughter and warmth. A place where we can catch a break and let our guard down.

I think that’s the reason so many of us warm up to the song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”.

I believe the Church should be that place for the world. (And by Church, I mean the living, breathing, moving Body of Christ – not necessarily the fixed structure made of four walls and a steeple.)

I believe as the walking, talking Body of Jesus we can be the place where people come to meet with a familiar friend, one who knows their name and listens when they had a bad day. Sinners and tax collectors wanted to be around Jesus.

They felt comfortable around him because he gave them the time of day. He didn’t treat them like a bunch of hopeless, unlawful scumbags.

He treated them like human beings who were desperately loved by an all good and all wonderful Father.

Can people say that they feel comfortable around you, just like Jesus? Can people say that they feel special when they’re around you, just like Jesus? Can people say they see Jesus when they see you?

As an ambassador in chains to the Gosepl (Jesus), the answer to all those questions should be yes, yes, yes! If not, maybe it’s time to reevaluate who we’re reflecting and adjust our mirrors to see Jesus!

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name,

and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same.  You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name. You wanna go where people know,

people are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows

your name…”

Five Ways to Have Impact – Part IV

(This is part three of a five-part series. Click here to read Part IPart II and Part III.)

I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.

Please just shut up and listen.
“The secret to friendship is being a good listener.” – Unkown

I read once that if you want to persuade someone you’re a good friend, then be quiet and listen.

Unfortunately, however, listening is not a strength for most of us.

Too often we’re more focused on getting to say what’s on our mind than paying attention to the other person talking. Often times, what a person doesn’t say communicates a lot more than what they do say.

But when we’re not fully invested in the person in front of us, we may end up missing those subtle details or hidden information. Listening involves taking the focus off of yourself and giving your full attention to the person speaking.

Christian philosopher, Greg Koukl, once taught that if you want people to think you’re interesting – ask questions!

Asking relevant questions actually helps you as much as it helps the person talking because it keeps you engaged in the conversation, and it communicates interest in the speaker.

Then, depending on the conversation or person, there may be an opportunity to give advice or feedback — but don’t be surprised if some people are just happy to have someone listen to them.

To give you an example, last year Michael and I spent the weekend together with some friends in Arkansas at a healing conference. In the evening we went out to a Wal-Mart to heal people in Jesus’ name.

We were able to minister to several people, but just before leaving, Michael and I saw a lady in a motorized cart. Since we were in “healing mode” we weren’t anticipating that maybe this woman just needed someone to listen when we initially approached her.

It turned out, she did have an illness and some pain, but she had recently moved to Arkansas with no family or friends, and the family she did have wouldn’t speak to her. So in this case taking the time to let this woman vent and cry meant more to her than not having to use her motorized cart.

Listening was the most loving thing we could have done.

Which leads me to another point: being a good listener means being flexible.

Listening is a full-time job, and you have to be ready in and out of season. I’m not saying let people “dump” on you all the time and use you to justify their unhealthy behaviors.

I’m saying be giving in your time and flexible in your actions.

Give people the time of day and not just canned responses. Can you give 100% of your time to every single person on the planet, obviously the answer is no. But with healthy boundaries, you can at least give some of your listening time to those you encounter day-to-day.

By giving your full attention, asking the right questions, and being sensitive to where that person is at you’ll become an effective listener, and through love, bring comfort to someone’s day.

Five Ways to Have Impact – Part III

(This is part three of a five-part series. Click here to read Part I and Part II.)

I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.

If they matter, remembering their name matters.

Obviously, I believe that human beings are all created in the image of God and because of that, each and everyone of us is valuable independent of what we may think.

So by saying that everyone matters, am I’m saying that everyone deserves having their name remembered?

Yep.

Honestly, this really isn’t that difficult to do, especially considering most people you run across on a day-to-day basis will have a name tag, name plate or business card to identify them.

For everyone else, you’ll just have to do it the old fashion way by asking and remembering!

But chances are, when you’re out running errands, you probably see the same store clerks and sales associates over and over again. This makes it easy to learn people’s names and strike up a little friendly conversation.

Some people might call it lazy, but I just call it practical. Who has time to make special trips to stores you don’t really shop at just to “minister” to people. Forget about it.

Just connect with the people you’re already seeing on a day-to-day basis and you can start by asking for their name.

Remembering a person’s name can open up so many doors. Why? Because it implies that you don’t think that person is just another number. They’re somebody worth remembering.

Here is a story from Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends and Influence People, that highlights the lasting effects remembering someone’s name can have:

Back in 1898, a tragic thing happened in Rockland County, New York. A child had died, and on this particular day the neighbors were preparing to go to the funeral. Jim Farley went out to the barn to hitch up his horse. The ground was covered with snow, the air was cold and snappy; the horse hadn’t been exercised for days; and as he was led out to the watering trough, he wheeled playfully, kicked both his heels high in the air, and killed Jim Farley. So the little village of Stony Point had two funerals that week instead of one.

Jim Farley left behind him a widow and three boys, and a few hundred dollars in insurance.

His oldest boy, Jim, was ten, and he went to work in a brickyard, wheeling sand and pouring it into the molds and turning the brick on edge to be dried by the sun. This boy Jim never had a chance to get much education. But with his natural geniality, he had a flair for making people like him, so he went into politics, and as the years went by, he developed an uncanny ability for remembering people’s names.

He never saw the inside of a high school; but before he was forty-six years of age, four colleges had honored him with degrees and he had become chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Postmaster General of the United States.

I once interviewed Jim Farley and asked him the secret of his success. He said, “Hard work,” and I said, “Don’t be funny.”

He then asked me what I thought was the reason for his success. I replied: “I understand you can call ten thousand people by their first names.”

“No. You are wrong,” he said. “I can call fifty thousand people by their first names.”

Make no mistake about it. That ability helped Mr. Farley put Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House when he managed Roosevelt’s campaign in 1932.

During the years that Jim Farley traveled as a salesman for a gypsum concern, and during the years that he held office as town clerk in Stony Point, he built up a system for remembering names.

In the beginning, it was a very simple one. Whenever he met a new acquaintance, he found out his or her complete name and some facts about his or her family, business and political opinions. He fixed all these facts well in mind as part of the picture, and the next time he met that person, even if it was a year later, he was able to shake hands, inquire after the family, and ask about the hollyhocks in the backyard. No wonder he developed a following!

For months before Roosevelt’s campaign for President began, Jim Farley wrote hundreds of letters a day to people all over the western and northwestern states. Then he hopped onto a train and in nineteen days covered twenty states and twelve thousand miles, traveling by buggy, train, automobile and boat. He would drop into town, meet his people at lunch or breakfast, tea or dinner, and give them a “heart-to-heart talk.” Then he’d dash off again on another leg of his journey.

As soon as he arrived back East, he wrote to one person in each town he had visited, asking for a list of all the guests to whom he had talked. The final list contained thousands and thousands of names; yet each person on that list was paid the subtle flattery of getting a personal letter from James Farley. These letters began “Dear Bill” or “Dear Jane,” and they were always signed “Jim.”

Jim Farley discovered early in life that the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment.

We all want to feel special, and whether we like our name or not, a bit of our identity is attached to it.

Remembering a person’s name is like saying, “I know there are 7 billion people on this planet, but you’re important to me and you matter!”

Five Ways to Have Impact – Part II

(This is part two of a five-part series. Read Part I here.)

I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.

Smile like you mean it.

Have you ever noticed how we tend to gravitate towards people who smile more? What’s actually in a smile that we like so much?

In an article published by Disa A. Sauter and Stephen C. Levinson titled “What’s embodied in a smile?” they wrote:

“… displays of amusement and pride were signaled by smiles, but that amused smiles tended to be open-mouthed, whereas smiles of pride had compressed lips. In contrast, awe was typically expressed with raised eyebrows and a slightly open mouth, but not with smiles. This study highlights that there is likely more than one kind of smile and that different smile configurations may communicate different affective states.”[Disa A. Sauter and Stephen C. Levinson (2010). What’s embodied in a smile?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33 , pp 457-458 doi:10.1017/S0140525X10001597]

It seems our smiles can literally speak volumes about what we’re experiencing internally. Have you thought about what your smile (or lack thereof) is saying to those around you?

A strong, genuine smile makes you feel valuable and important. Conversely, a forced or fake smile can create tension or even hurt someone’s feelings.

A study from The University of Miami even learned that people who experience rejection might be able to better distinguish a fake smile from the real thing. They hypothesize this is because those who are aquatinted with rejection eventually learn cues that indicate insincerity, which helps them identify when to avoid wasting energies on potentially harmful relationships.[1]

This begs the question: how many times does someone have to experience rejection before they develop skills for telling the difference between a genuine smile and an insincere smile – all so they won’t be hurt?

But “fake smiling” doesn’t just affect those who have experienced rejection.It can have some pretty big impacts internally for you too.

Another study published in the Academy of Management Journal, researchers Brent Scott and Christopher Barnes discovered that fake smiling can actually be worse for you than not smiling at all. In a practice labeled “surface acting”, they discovered that employees who were required to “put on a face” for their boss were prone to burn out and in some cases depression.[2]

Turns out “keepin’ it real” is actually healthy for you!

The bottom line is that smiling is one of those tiny actions that has huge impact. The next time you’re out shopping, meeting new people, ordering food or even talking over the phone, be aware that your smile is affecting those around you just as much as it’s affecting you.

So do yourself and others a favor and smile like you mean it!

——————————————–

1. Association for Psychological Science. “Phony Friends? Rejected People Better Able To Spot Fake Smiles.” ScienceDaily, 24 Oct. 2008. Web. 22 Nov. 2011.

2. Michigan State University. “For a better workday, smile like you mean it.” ScienceDaily, 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.

Five Ways to Have Impact – Part I

I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.

It doesn’t cost you anything to give a compliment.

The times when we’ve been praised for a job well done are easy to remember. They’re the moments we’re proud of and we feel good about. They give us confidence for the days when we don’t hear that “thank you” for our hard work.

Unfortunately, most of us probably don’t hear “thank you” very often.

In a case study done by COLLOQUY, a loyalty marketing research and consulting network, they found that we’re more likely to vocalize our negative experiences than our positive ones:

75% of the general population said that when they’ve had a bad experience with a product or service they advise friends and family. That surpasses the 42% who said they always recommend a product or service they really like; the 71% who said they’re always looking to experience something new; and the 67% who said they love telling people about something new they’ve learned.”[Hickman, Jill, and Wardah Malik. “Urban Legends: Word-of-Mouth Myths, Madvocates and Champions.” COLLOQUY TalkTalk. LoyaltyOne. Cincinnati, OH. March 2011. Reading.]

So, if this is true for corporations, how true is it for our friends, family, co-workers, and other acquaintances? How often do our loved ones get to hear that they’re appreciated? How often do cashier clerks and waitresses get to hear when they’ve done something right?

The next time you have a good experience, pay attention:

1. If it’s a family member or friend, sometimes the best compliment you can give is only a question away. Express interest in something they’re passionate about and encourage them in that passion.

2. If it’s someone waiting on you at a store or restaurant, make note of the the person’s name tag or ask for their name. Take quick mental notes and find a few attributes you really liked about the person helping you.

3. Highlight the things you appreciated about that person in a note or phone call to their boss. If you’re short on time, many restaurants and businesses have online feedback forms where you can submit your thoughts. It only takes 5 – 10 minutes at most to leave a quick note.

If you need more motivation for giving a compliment, some companies will even mail you coupons or gift cards to their store.

Michael and I once submitted positive feedback on Macaroni Grill’s website regarding our waitress. Within 2-3 weeks, we had a personal letter from customer relations and a $25 food gift certificate, thanking us for taking the time to share our experience. That’s was basically a free meal for 4 sentences and 5 minutes of our time.

Talk about a compliment that didn’t cost us anything!

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