How do people know how much you care?
Have you ever heard that in conversation? “Who cares!” Often uttered as a dismissive response to a discussion on a topic that’s more complicated than the listener wants to engage with, and delivered in such a way as to reinforce the idea that in their view no-one else either does or should either.
I’ve seen similar responses, although not verbalised in quite such a way, in social gatherings and in local networking meetings too. Here they are aren’t delivered with quite such directness, but rather with a glance over your shoulder to see who else they can talk to, maybe an “oh excuse me, I’ve just seen so-and-so and I really must catch them”, or simply that glazed look that some people do so well.
“I’m sorry, but I think you must have me confused with someone who cares.”
On the other hand, I have had some great conversations with people that really engaged with everything I said, even when in hindsight I seemed to have been rambling and losing my thread, even to myself!. I recall hearing of a conversation where my friend describes having outlined a great solution to an issue to someone who was, in fact, a practitioner in the subject, and to which the reply “oh really, I’ve not thought of it that way before, how interesting” was really well received. Well, it wasn’t realised until on reflection later, to have been a really rather flawed analysis that the practitioner could have shot down in flames but chose instead to make my friend feel like he had come up with something really valuable.
For some it’s called “active listening” and for others, it’s called insincere flattery, however, it actually has everything to do with something that’s often referred to as “making a connection” with someone. Making a connection is so much more than meeting up or chatting, and involves a real interest in the person with whom you connect. It has to do with wanting to get to know their views and their interests and really understanding their worldview and what makes them who they are.
I suspect that someone came to mind as I described the various situations above, and maybe you have met someone like that. Someone that seemed really interested in you, and not just to sell you something. They left you feeling valued, and probably they left you feeling that you had got to know them too and that they were a “nice person”, which indeed they most likely were. That’s the Law of Connection at work.
I met someone like that some years ago and we are still really good friends now, even though we don’t meet so often nowadays. To save his blushes I’ll call him Steve, although he’ll know who he is when reading this. I had a work-related issue that needed some honest feedback from someone that knew me well, and Steve was the first person I thought of to call up and talk with. His response was to take a break from what he was doing and listen, you know, really listen, and then after asking some searching questions to give some great ideas to consider, and then offer to meet up to discuss the issue. Since then we’ve met up and discussed it all further in more detail, after the catching up with family and other news of course.
We first met when we were both in a previous place and role in life, and have both moved on to new careers and life stages since our initial connection, however that first connection still lingers with great memories. What was it that marked out that initial connection? It was the care and interest that was shown in topics that were nothing to do with the reason we had met up.
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”
It’s been wisely said that “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”, and as a quote that’s been attributed to many people who are known for saying wise things. So what; who cares? Well, if you want people to care how much you know, then you will want them to know how much you care, and the best way of doing that is … to care!
I heard one piece of advice where I certainly don’t endorse the motive, but the thought it reveals is interesting, and it’s for that reason I share it. That is to imagine that the person you’re talking to is a wealthy relative with a terminal illness and you’re hoping to be included in their will.
Perhaps a more helpful thought is to imagine that you are talking so your daughter’s new boyfriend and their relationship is starting to get quite serious, and you want to know if you’re prepared to endorse their relationship! You’ll want to really get to know him, to know his motives, to know how he thinks, and to know what his values are.
“Seek first to understand, then be understood”
~ Stephen Covey
The next time you’re chatting with someone why not take an interest in them – you’ll be spending your time with them anyway so why not get to understand them – even if they hold different values than you. Really try to get to see life from their perspective, to understand their outlook, and then listen to what they are saying from that perspective. Get to know them so that if you were to describe them to them, they would quickly nod and say – “that’s me”!
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.