Submitted by PeterElias on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 06:00

It’s easy to take people for granted. 

Whether at work, in public settings, with employees or customers or patients, or even in more intimate interactions with friends and family, it is easy and often automatic to treatothers (often identified as the amorphous group ‘them’) as invisible and therefore inconsequential. The more we focus on a goal (likely out goal) the more we tend to ignore the people actually involved in achieving the goal. Until, of course, the goal is not met. Then we blame ‘them’ for what may well have been our failure.

There’s a better way. Don’t marginalize people. Instead, we should make the effort to humanize the people we deal with, whether on the phone, behind the counter, working elsewhere in the institution, or using the product we offer. If we do, some amazing things can happen. 

The more we share information and open processes to participation, the more we implicitly recognize the value of others as contributors. Treated with respect and invited to collaborate (rather than asked for cooperation or compliance), others become people and experience personhood. By recognizing and rewarding their autonomy, we are validating and enhancing their worth. They gain the feeling of agency upon which both creativity and motivation are dependent. We gain an active collaborator loyal to shared goals. 

Don’t lecture and demand compliance.  Instead, connect by listening, sharing and collaborating.