Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4
A few months ago I was promoted at work. I went from being the Executive Assistant to the Director to being the Human Resources Manager. Cool, huh? I had never been an HR manager before so some of the mechanics of the job are new to me. But what wasn’t new, and quite frankly one of the reasons I received this promotion, was my interest in others.
For the last three years as the Executive Assistant I had been something of an advocate for our employees. When Corporate said they wanted each of our locations to focus on customer service and what that should look like, I literally volunteered to be the trainer. (Nuts, right?) Suddenly my mind was swimming with ideas of how to train our employees on providing better customer service.
I’ll be honest my initial trainings were pretty good, even if I do say so myself. I quickly discovered that humor, not just practical skills application, was a good avenue at connecting with the staff. But there always seemed to be one component I was missing and never could quite put my finger on. That is until one day a colleague of mine said my last talk came off sounding preachy. Ouch. Preachy? I never thought I sounded preachy, nor did I ever want to but there it was. At first I dismissed this notion as some snarky, nonsensical flim-flam (yes, that’s a real word) because we had different public speaking styles. That is until I had to do a talk on our company’s code of conduct. That’s when I finally hit on the missing element and fully understood that preachy comment.
Let’s be honest, a talk on a company’s code of conduct doesn’t sound very sexy or exciting and won’t exactly have people beating down the door to hear it, and ours would be no exception. The HR Manager at the time was originally given this dubious task of reviewing the three-page list with everyone. Eh. How do you present a laundry list of presumed do’s and don’t’s to your staff without either putting them to sleep or annoying the life out of them? That’s when my mind started clicking. Whenever someone says they have a problem, I immediately start thinking of ways to solve it.
Well, it ended up turning into a training…presented by…well, me. I let that HR Manager off the hook (I hope she appreciated that! Lol). As I began composing my talk, I was fearful I was going to, at the very least, bore the staff to death; at worst, chide them like spoiled, irreverent children.
So when the day finally arrived for my code of conduct training, I remember sending up a fervent prayer asking God to let His words be my words and help me make this count because I still wasn’t sure I could pull this off. What resulted was one of the best trainings I had ever done (yay God!). It was still a three-page laundry list but the words God gave me weren’t word of criticism or chastising, they were words of encouragement. Instead of telling our staff “you will do thus and so”, I told them how they had intrinsic value (a fav expression of mine now). I explained that the items in this code of conduct defined not only how we should treat and respect others but how they were to be treated with respect and consideration too. That the company we work for truly cares for them (which is true, they do), and wants them to find working there a joy, not a chore. That the reason this code of conduct was drafted in the first place was out of genuine concern for the well-being of our staff not just those we serve.
I never had so many staff members come up and thank me for my talk. That it was inspiring and encouraging; that they felt appreciated. (Again, yay God!) As I reflected on my talk, I discovered what I had been missing. To think, to act in the interest of others. That’s not to say I had been doing my trainings without any consideration for my audience. On the contrary, I’ve always made it a point to connect with my audience; to benefit them with useful information; to build them up. And I think I have done that. Many have told me as much. But I still needed to learn that one component to really drive home what I was sharing.
Okay, so what is this mysterious “in the interest of others”? Well, the short answer is just being cognitive of the fact that what you say and do affects others. Good, bad or indifferent. But to truly think or act in the interest of others is about being selfless. It’s being self-aware of your words, your actions and the impact they have on another.
This morning I was playing with my 15-month-old grandson (yes, I have grandchildren, but no I’m not as old as you think, so hush). He likes it when I get down on the floor with him so he can hand me all of his toys or wallow all over me. He giggles and laughs; plays peek-a-boo; gives me kisses, and makes my hands clap so I’ll play patty cake with him. He and I were having fun, and it was about my interest in him. It was me taking time to focus on him; to show him how much he means to me; to show him he has intrinsic value. To take that precious time and just ‘be’ with him.
In the interest of others doesn’t have to be elaborate or over the top to have an impact. It can be as simple as asking someone how they’re doing and really meaning it rather than just a passing greeting. It can be a smile – a genuine smile with eye contact and everything – that can make someone feel good.
A former mentor of mine gave a talk on how she showed her family how much they meant to her. She said whenever she would pass by one of her kids or her husband, she would always reach out and lovingly touch them. She’d rub their back, squeeze their shoulder or kiss them on the head. She would never let an opportunity go by without showing them some kind of motherly affection. That resonated with me. From that point on, I made it a point to do the same with my family. I began to act in the loving interest of my family.
Acting in the interest of others also means having a genuine concern for another. What is that you do that let’s someone know they matter? Recently one of our employees experienced a traumatic event. She was really struggling with trying to cope and came to me to share her fears. I listened and tried to offer words of encouragement and ways that might help her.
A few weeks passed since then so when I saw her going by the other day I seized the opportunity to ask how she was doing. She told me she was much better and had been meaning to come let me know but was glad I came to ask after her; that it made her feel good to know I was concerned.
In the interest of others.
Now this is not about me tooting my horn or to say “Look at me! Aren’t I great?” No, it’s just a friendly reminder – a self reminder – to realize that when we act in the interest of others, we take the focus off of us and put it on someone who may very well need it in that moment. This world is tough enough to get along in, so it can make all the difference when we extend some courtesy and concern for others. We truly can make the world a better place with small acts of kindness if we are willing.
So what can you do to act in the interest of others? What things have you done in the interest of others? I have no doubt you do them everyday without even realizing it. But I would challenge you to actively engage in the interest of others; become even more cognitive of your ‘code of conduct’ and let others know they have intrinsic value.
As a footnote, you may have noticed that I don’t post regularly like so many bloggers do. Aside from the fact that I work full-time, I also value my time with my family, as well as making sure to carve out some regular me-time. That being said, I also take the topics of my blog posts very seriously. I don’t have a set schedule of when I post because I really take a lot of time thinking through what I’m going to blog. I pray about what I should write; that what I share has value and meaning, and doesn’t end up being a bunch of mindless words on a screen. I don’t want to sound preachy. I want to be encouraging, inspiring and uplifting right when someone needs it most. I want what I do to be in the interest of you. So thank you, kind reader, for your time, for your interest. I sincerely hope I bring a little joy, a little laughter, a little hope and a little inspiration to you.
Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29
Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions. – Colossians 4:6
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. – Proverbs 25:11
A man takes joy in a fitting reply, and how good is a timely word! – Proverbs 15:23