The other evening while at a school function with my son, I chatted with a gentleman named Richard who ran the audio-visual department for the district. I had a great time talking with this guy.
Richard told me he received a B.A. in Engineering in 1963. He worked on mainframe computers and eventually learned to service all sorts of technology ranging from cars to overhead projectors. Eventually he found his niche in graphics, and he returned for his M.S. degree in Graphic Design in 1997.
I asked him a question that I’ve asked people in jobs ranging from ice cream scooper to CEO: “What’s the best part of your job?”
Richard told me that last year he set up the school districts’ new computers and LED projectors in such a way that the manufacturers from Japan came out to study what he did so they could offer that configuration to other customers.
“It felt good to hold court with 7 senior product engineers from Japan and teach them something about their product that they never imagined,” he told me. “And my boss let me spend a whole day showing them around the district. That made me feel pretty good.”
I joked, “Did the engineers give you a good tip?”
“Nah,” Richard dismissed with a wave of his hand. “At my age, it just feels good to be appreciated.”
Guess what? Appreciation feels good AT ANY AGE.
I didn’t have to twist Richard’s arm to get him talking about his position or his area of expertise. Why? The appreciation Richard received at work–and the interest I took in him–increased his engagement. He couldn’t NOT talk about work, his role, and his school. And as an added bonus, Richard really liked me. How do I know? He gave me inside secrets like which seat in the room offered the best vantage point for seeing and taking pictures, and where I could find a computer down the hall for checking email.
Why did Richard give more than any other district 203 employee I met that same night? Maybe it’s because he felt appreciated. Why was Richard so nice and helpful to me? Maybe it’s because I expressed interest in him first.
If you want to create a whole new level of engagement with those around you, find the thing that each one is really good at. And then demonstrate appreciation by expressing interest, thanks, awe, praise, or attention. It’s simple, free, and ignites the passion in others. And as an added bonus, when you express interest in others, you become the light. They will follow you around as if you were the Sun, and they shining plants in your garden.
Start you week off right: Shine your light on someone today!