How to Bring Out the Best in People — Frank Sonnenberg Online

Do you consider yourself a good friend or colleague? Before you answer that question, ask yourself, “Do I bring out the best in people?” After all, you can be a good friend — kind, dependable, and selfless — yet not bring out the best in others.

Do You Inspire People to Be Their Best?

One of the qualities of an exceptional friend or colleague is someone who helps you become the best you can be. If you want to serve as a positive influence in someone’s life, here are 15 guideposts to consider:

See the goodness in others. Look for the spark of brilliance in everyone. Make people feel special and appreciated.

Make people feel good about themselves. Be a cheerleader. Inspire them to do their best and to be their best. As Bill Walsh, the legendary football coach, said, “The four most powerful words are: I believe in you.”

Be enthusiastic for other’s achievements. Someone’s good fortune is not your misfortune. The only limitations on what you can achieve are the constraints that you place on yourself.

Encourage personal responsibility. Don’t make people dependent on you. Demonstrate your confidence by encouraging folks to think for themselves, make their own decisions, and own their lives.

Be an exemplary role model. You can lecture people until you’re blue in the face, but the best way to teach someone is to show, not tell. Words express what’s on your mind, but your actions say what’s in your heart.

Help people grow. Criticism is a hostile substitute for constructive feedback. Praise in public; present shortcomings in private. Make observations impersonal. Focus on the act, not the person.

Tell it like it is. Be straight with people — even if the message hurts. If you think protecting someone’s feelings is in their best interest, think again.

Set high expectations. Challenge people to leave their comfort zone, set stretch goals, and reach for the sky.

Promote positive change. Build the type of relationship in which you encourage change rather than demand it. People change only when change is their choice.

Boost self-confidence. Provide encouragement when people second-guess themselves or question their capabilities.

Encourage self-reliance. Exhibit trust rather than control. There’s no need to force people into compliance; if you play your cards right, they’ll manage themselves.

Remain open-minded. Respect others’ opinions — even if you disagree. True friends hotly debate issues and walk away as friends.

Be tolerant. Don’t judge people for their beliefs or force your values on them. We can’t expect others to abandon their values any more than we would forsake our own.

Demonstrate your loyalty. Be available in good times and bad. Lend a shoulder to cry on when folks are down in the dumps.

Keep people on the straight and narrow path. Challenge folks if they compromise their values or lower their personal standards.

Be the Best You

Extraordinary role models who exhibit these traits are worth their weight in gold. They may come across as tough, but you know that they’re fair. They may come across as intrusive, but you know it comes from a place of caring. The truth is that it’s easy for someone to set the bar low, turn a blind eye to misconduct, or “yes” you to death. But someone who really cares will help you realize your true potential.

Bringing out the best in others brings out the best in you.

Think of the teacher, parent, or manager who frequently said, “you can do better.” While you may have been frustrated and mumbled under your breath, they helped bring out the best in you and made you who you are today. So, the next time someone pushes you to your limits, take a moment to thank them for making a difference. As Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Check out Frank’s new book, The Path to a Meaningful Life.

Do You Bring Out the Best in People?

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Additional Reading:
You Can Do Better
Change Someone’s Life and It May End Up Changing Yours
Are You Enthusiastic for the Success of Others?
Who’s Your Hero?
Step Up Your Game
How to Give Feedback
Thanks for a Job Well Done

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