By Brian Tracy
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, October/November 2005.
Empower means “putting power into,” and it can also mean “bringing energy and enthusiasm out of.” So the first step in empowering people is to refrain from doing anything that disempowers them or reduces their energy and enthusiasm. The deepest need each person has is for self-esteem — a sense of being important, valuable, and worthwhile. Everything you do in your interactions with others affects their self-esteem in some way. You already have an excellent frame of reference to determine the things you can do to boost the self-esteem and therefore the sense of personal power of those around you. Give them what you’d like for yourself.
There are three simple things you can do every single day to empower others and make them feel good about themselves.
Appreciation. Perhaps the simplest way to make another person feel good is your continuous expression of appreciation for everything that person does for you, large or small. Say “thank you” on every occasion. The more you thank other people for doing things for you, the more things those other people will want to do. Every time you thank another person, you cause that person to like themselves better. You raise their self-esteem and improve their self-image. You cause them to feel more important. You make them feel what they did was valuable and worthwhile. You empower them.
Approval. The second way to make people feel important, raise their self-esteem, and give them a sense of power and energy is by the generous use of praise and approval. Perhaps the most valuable lesson in Kenneth Blanchard’s now classic book The One Minute Manager is his recommendation to be giving “one-minute praisings” at every opportunity.
There is a psychological law of reciprocity that says, “If you make me feel good about myself, I will find a way to make you feel good about yourself.” In other words, people will always look for ways to reciprocate your kindnesses toward them. When you look for every opportunity to do and say things that make other people feel good about themselves, you will be astonished at not only how good you feel, but also at the wonderful things that begin to happen all around you.
Attention. The third way to empower others, build their self-esteem, and help them feel important is simply to pay close attention to them when they talk. The great majority of people are so busy trying to be heard that they become impatient when others are talking. But this is not for you. Remember, the most important single activity that takes place over time is listening intently when the other person is talking and being expressive.
These three general rules for empowering the people around you apply to everyone you meet. Remember to voice your thanks and gratitude to others on every occasion. Praise them for every accomplishment. And pay close attention to them when they talk and want to interact with you. These three behaviors alone will make you a master of human interaction and will greatly empower the people around you.