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Humility Beats Flattery


     Sure, it’s nice to give and receive flattering comments — when they’re sincere. Trouble is that truly genuine sincerity is about as rare as a flock of spotted owls landing on your Uncle Sid’s satellite dish.

     Humility, on the other hand, is internally driven and –by its very nature — never questioned for authenticity. Contrary to Hollywood’s overblown theatrics, humility is not a simply silent behavior that requires a reverently bowed head, hat-in-hand, innocently blinking eyes presentation. Humility is an active choice.

     Both words (humility and flattery) are over 700 years old.

     “Humility” at Dictionary.com is defined as the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or modest estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc… humbleness.

     “Flattery” is defined as excessive, insincere praise; fawning; pandering.

     So how would you categorize the last time you exercised these behaviors in your dealings with associates? With employees? With Customers? Vendors and suppliers? Referrers? Within your industry or profession? Your community?

     What did each incident get you? I’m willing to bet the ranch that your humbleness outperformed your pandering in terms of triggering positive responses … 100% of the time! Would that be an accurate assessment?

     So what’s preventing you from choosing the winning behavior more often?

     The answer to that question is: YOU!

     It is an active and conscious choice to deal with others in a sincere or insincere manner.

     Choosing humility translates to giving genuine credit to where genuine credit is due, even when you may not like or agree with the source, and this especially applies to those who work for and with you.

     It also means being careful to not underestimate the performance capabilities or the sincerity of others, again especially of employees.

     How can you best accomplish these ends?

  • By listening 80% of the time.

  • By paraphrasing what you just heard, in your own words, and checking with the source to make sure you have a clear understanding of the other person’s thinking and intent, and that you’re not imposing your own bias into other’s ideas and suggestions.

  • By asking for examples, to better clarify statements.

  • By taking notes so you can

    • Sleep on it when time allows

    • Recover where you left off when you get interrupted (which can sometimes last hours or days)

    • Accurately reflect other’s comments and credit them appropriately

    • Build others’ self-esteem; when you jot down notes of their comments (and, by the way, directly ask them to slow down so you can keep accurate notes), you are quietly saying that you value and appreciate others and their ideas.              


Bottom LIne: 

Don’t think that because you may already have a successful business, that you have all the answers. Odds are you may simply have been lucky to get to where you are, and that you really don’t have ANY answers.

Regardless of what you believe, you and your business can only stand to benefit by listening carefully — and with a strong sense of humility — to what those who surround you have to say. My best guess is that you’ll surprise yourself!


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Hal@Businessworks.US  302.933.0116

Open Minds Open Doors

Many thanks for your visit and God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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