Be the change you want to see occur in the world around you. We can’t make other people be more considerate, helpful, honest, etc., but if everyone were to work on themselves and develop these attributes, our world would be a better place.
Don’t be judgmental. Look for and recognize the good in yourself and in others. We are all capable of so-called “good” and “bad” behaviors and we all have our “good” and “off” days. We are all unique and it is wonderful that we are different and not all the same – in our appearance, our thoughts, our opinions, our likes and dislikes. Being different is not threatening, it is not “bad”, it is just “different”. Embrace the differences and be happy for the variety. Likewise, forget the concepts of “right” and “wrong”. People are not good or bad or right or wrong; they just are. If you were in “their shoes” maybe you would act differently, or maybe not. Being judgmental wastes time and cuts you off from opportunities and meaningful relationships – because you are not perfect either, and your judgment might be worse than the person’s you are judging!
Respect. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your rights are the only ones that count. Don’t ignore the other person’s rights. Our fundamental right is to be respected. Being wealthy does not make a person more deserving of respect and neither does a high-flying career with a fancy title. Respect is not about material issues or where one sits on the social ladder. Respect is acknowledging another human being’s dignity and treating them how you wish to be treated yourself. We all came on to this earth equal and we’re all checking out as equals. What happens in between is just a series of different life experiences. The poor man who lives in a slum, who cares for strangers, volunteers assistance without expecting anything in return and lives a clean, honest life is more deserving of respect than a wealthy businessman who dresses in fine clothes, lives in a huge mansion, and treats everyone like pond amoeba, cheats on his wife, swindles his shareholders and has forgotten how to tell the truth.
Be a Good Listener. How often do you really listen to other people? How often do you plan what you are going to say next while they are talking, or allow your mind to drift off onto something else instead of concentrating on their every word? It takes practice to be a good listener, but in being one, you are showing respect and in a position to better comprehend the real message being given to you. You avoid misunderstandings and missed instructions. Furthermore, the other person will appreciate your attention and return the courtesy.
Be interested – not interesting. This goes hand in hand with being a good listener. People love to talk about themselves and will delight in the opportunity to do so, so ensure you ask questions and take an interest in what they are telling you. Don’t worry about them hogging the limelight – you can have your turn during the conversation. Have you ever met someone who only talks about themselves? Count the number of times you use “I” in your conversations. Judging, arguing points, interrupting the conversation, and using “I” a lot are sure signs you need to review your communication skills.
Respond from Your Heart. We tend to respond to others using our head, not our heart. We formulate stories about us, we defend our ego, or we judge other people or what they have said. If we respond from our heart, we can respond with understanding and a sense of connection. Find something good to say about people and to people. Build people “up” – don’t knock them down. Go with your gut instincts.
Be truthful. There is a good reason for the saying “honesty is the best policy.” Nothing good ever comes from lies, and there is a difference between being diplomatic and telling an outright lie. Nobody trusts a liar. If you’ve made a mistake, well, welcome to the human race! You don’t have to lie to cover it up. You don’t have to tell your truth “brutally”, there are gentle and tactful ways of delivering truths and you should think carefully before you speak. But don’t try to be deceitful because it has a habit of coming back to haunt you, and in those situations you are worse off than if you had just come clean in the first place, as uncomfortable as that may seem at the time.
Be helpful. When you need a helping hand, don’t you just love the person who comes up and offers that to you? Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to repay them? You can be that person that others look to respectfully with gratitude in their hearts, who will, one day, repay the gesture. What comes around, goes around. If you want people to be helpful to you, you must be helpful to others. It doesn’t matter whether this is assisting your boss with a special project you can see he needs help with, or a co-worker who is struggling with a large workload, or an elderly neighbor struggling up the stairs with her arms full. People do remember kindness.
Maintain Your Integrity and Your Dignity. People with their integrity intact are easier to deal with in work or personal situations. They know where they stand and you know where you stand with them. You will feel better about yourself when you set your standards and stand by them and you will attract those who respect your standards and who have standards of their own. Being a doormat is disrespectful to yourself and to the person ‘walking all over you’. It does not allow them to grow and learn to do something for themselves. Learn to say no gracefully. You have as much right as everyone else on the planet to have your own opinion and your own way of doing things, and reminding you of point (1) above, nobody has the right to make you feel ‘bad’ if you think, feel or dress differently. Remember, “to thine own self be true.”
Go the Extra Mile. I mean this in a couple of ways. First, whether you are either asked to do something, or you are offering to do something, remember that if something is worth doing in the first place, then it is worth doing well. And while you are at it, what little touches can you offer to improve it? For example, who would you rather go to for your shoeshine… Mr. A does a wonderful buff and polish and is timely and not too expensive. Mr. B also does a wonderful buff and polish, he is also timely and not expensive, but he is also cheerful and interested in you and whistles while he works, so after your polish, you go on your way feeling on top of the world! Mr. B just went the extra mile for you. He didn’t just polish your shoes, he lifted your spirits and made you feel good. If you are offering a co-worker assistance with copying some documents, go the extra mile and ask if she needs a hand stapling them or collating them. Going the extra mile need not involve a large expense of time, energy or money, but it’s value to the recipient is often priceless, and one day, it will be reciprocated.
Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. Neither beat around the bush being evasive, nor make promises you can’t keep. On the other hand, if you say you are going to do something, do it. Be known as a reliable person. Honor your promises and agreements wherever possible – this stems back to integrity. Prepare to be flexible if need be, but know that you don’t have to bend over so far backwards that your back snaps. Being assertive and being aggressive are two entirely different things, and you do not need aggression to be assertive. In fact, you are better off without the aggression! If you are wishy-washy and allow people or circumstances to be unconcerned for your position, you will develop that reputation and find more and more people willing to walk all over you and more situations in which it occurs. Being like this does not prove you are valuable to anybody – it just means you are a ‘pushover’.