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All About You: Making others feel special

All About You by Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

“Live with Passion,” “Enjoy the Journey” and “Make Other People Feel Special” are three precepts – posted on the center of my office bulletin board – that I strive to follow. The last one is my favorite and has helped with all my relationships – whether professional, intimate or casual. It also has helped me succeed as a safety professional and speaker.

I’d like to share a few tips about making other people feel special.

First, don’t be fake. Yes, some humans are adept at conning people. They may benefit from their ability to deceive, but I’ll presume you don’t fit into that category. Having honest intent when you say or do something that makes another person feel special is a foundation for connecting with people in a way that raises their spirits.

It feels good to make other people feel special. That’s not the only reason I do it, but it’s a perk I enjoy when I can tell I’ve brightened someone’s day. Every interaction with another person gives you a chance to make a positive difference in their life. I’m not saying you always have to be upbeat and constantly encouraging others – that’s not realistic. But, if you regularly include the following suggestions as part of your day-to-day social interactions, they’ll go a long way toward endearing you to the people in your life.

Notice and compliment

As part of my mindfulness practice, I purposely notice how other people look and act. When appropriate, I’ll compliment a person about something I enjoyed noticing.

Recently, a senior was sitting next to me while we were waiting to board a plane. He was wearing a slick-looking hat, and I told him so. I especially liked the feather on the side. A beaming smile appeared when I complimented him on his fedora. Then, we talked about the various hats he owns and how we don’t see many men wearing “dress hats” like they did back when my new acquaintance started sporting his.

Everyone likes sincere compliments. They’re a delight to receive. Mark Twain said it well: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Show unique appreciation

Let’s say you come across a crew working safely. The team is following the rules, including keeping the worksite tidy. After watching for a few minutes, you say, “Good job – thanks for working safely.” That’s good. The crew will like the fact that you noticed its safe activities. But if you want to have a stronger, more memorable impact, include something specific in your gratitude. Tell the crew it has done a fine job setting up its laydown area or something else that would only apply to the work being peformed. Your unique appreciation will be noticed and create a more lasting impression.

Unique appreciation takes more thought and sometimes more effort than generic appreciation. Plus, it makes the person or group receiving the grateful expression feel special. That’s why it has a stronger effect. I like it when someone tells me he or she enjoyed one of my talks or seminars. But it feels much better when he or she tells me why it was enjoyable or describes something he or she now plans to include in his or her life because of our time together.

Be genuinely interested in other people

The more your scales of interest tip toward other people when you’re having a conversation, the more he or she will enjoy your company. So it’s a good idea to occasionally ask yourself, “How much do I talk about myself when I’m with someone compared to how much I ask questions that encourage the person to tell me about the experiences that make up his or her life and then patiently listen to the response?”

Focusing on others and wanting to know about their joys, challenges and even their mundane activities is another powerful social skill. One that – when done with honest intent and interest – is guaranteed to make other people feel special.

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit


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