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Sometimes someone says something that is difficult to forget; those rare “ah ha” moments that not only stick with you forever but can also be applied in both personal and professional relationships. These are my ten favorites.
- Follow the “Golden Rule.” Do to others what you want them to do to you. Stop thinking so much about yourself and start appreciating those around you. Relationships should be much more about how you can help others rather then what they can do for you. Maya Angelou perhaps said it best in this quote: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Actions always speak louder than words. People often say things they don't mean and make promises they can't or or have no intention of keeping. Remember that words take little effort while action takes much more. Actions are word endorsers and credibility builders.
- If you never tell a lie you never have to remember what you said. The original quote belongs to Mark Twain who said "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." Early in my career I had a boss who lied constantly to clients. Part of my job was to sit in client meetings, write down his lies and remind him what he said before the next meeting. Usually this was to cover up for his lack of actions, inability to keep promises and empty words (see above.) What a waste of time. And BTW, if you ever find yourself in a similar position, don't hang around at that job.
- Good behavior can’t be regulated. It’s voluntary. Many people believe that as long as they stay just on the "right" side of the law, they are fulfilling their personal and professional obligations. But those with the highest integrity go way beyond the "law," understanding that good character is not the domain of lawyers, but rather of personal values.
- Don’t forget to say thank you often. It’s an easy way to build good will. Feeling appreciated is a powerful motivator in both personal and professional relationships. What better way then to say "thank you" even for the smaller, less consequential deeds.
- Everyone needs a truth teller, someone who won’t just nod his/her head in agreement. While it's easier to surround yourself with "yes" men and women, nobody can be right all the time, nor is anyone perfect. A truth teller is the person to whom you have given permission to offer an alternate opinion with no repercussions.
- If it doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not true. This quote belongs to Judge Judy. Just listen to a teenager trying to explain to his parents how the car got dented. When stories start going off track, or don't make sense, it's important to be skeptical about what you hear and ask followup questions.
- Identify the problem you are trying to solve and what you want the outcome to be. This is two lessons combined into one and primarily applies to professional relationships, especially in a meeting or negotiation. If, early on, the parties can reach consensus on the problem they are trying to solve and a mutually agreeable outcome, the time- savings will be well worth the extra steps.
- Most advice is of little value. Take it with a grain of salt. Find a few mentors along the way (and a truth-teller) and weigh the source of all other advice. Sometimes it is nothing more than self-serving, and certainly not useful.
- Take time to smell the roses and drink in the nectar of life. Get out and take a walk, play with a dog, dig in the dirt or watch a butterfly. All of these activities are stress eliminators and focus improvers.
What life lessons would you add to this list?