One of my favorite chapters in my new book More Than Just Talk is called “Consider The Four C’s.” It’s about four important traits and practices that set the stage for great conversations. One of the four Cs is Caring. Sounds so obvious. But, face it, if you don’t care about other people, your exchanges (if you even have any) will probably go…nowhere. My friend Mike Robertson calls these nonversations.
Related to this, I did a little “experiment” a few years back as casual research for my work. I was in Houston leading a workshop discussion with a group of business owners. I put participants into small groups and instructed them to collaborate to choose three traits – JUST THREE – that they most valued in their family members, friends, colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, service providers, community leaders, and so on. After about 20 minutes of VERY lively discussion, the groups came together to share their choices. Interestingly, caring was among their three biggies.
With that, let’s ask ourselves the obvious question: How can we do a better job of showing others we care through our conversations as well as our actions?
I’m going to toss in that we can start by choosing to be more present, civil, kind, and courteous to others. A few examples might include looking up from our phones, offering friendly greetings and sincere compliments, and even listening more than we speak. We can also develop, embrace, and regularly practice the art of…Being Excellent to Each Other.
What’s this? It’s a story I share in my book. If you haven’t heard this story, here it is:
When author Deborahann Smith began doing temp work to help pay the bills early on in her freelance writing career, she put up a little framed sign in her workspace that read, “Be Excellent to Each Other.” (Yes, she had recently seen the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”)
This sign was initially a reminder to Smith to stay on task, to do excellent work, and to be friendly, kind, and gracious to her co-workers. But the words “Be Excellent to Each Other” also had an unexpected and positive impact on the culture of each organization for which Smith worked. Many colleagues were inspired by her sign AND her many examples of friendliness and kindness, including compliments, words of thanks, and even defending others from malicious gossip. They also began showing each other more respect, appreciation, and thoughtfulness. They even began standing up for each other ─ and pointing out when someone wasn’t “being excellent.”
But let’s get real here. Smith also admits there were people who were just jerks…so miserable, mean, and perpetually negative….no amount of excellence or kindness could change them.
Very sad. But what can you do?
Despite the ugly exceptions, Smith reports that displaying her little sign usually made a significant and positive impact.
So I’ll ask again… Where, when, and how could we choose to demonstrate that we care about others? Where, when, and how could we be just a little more excellent to each other in our exchanges and interactions? Putting up a little framed sign as a gentle reminder is a great idea. You could do this at home, at work, in your classroom. Maybe you have some other favorite ways to show you care and to inspire others to do the same. Let’s hear them!
“Consider the Four C’s” is the fifteenth short, but mighty chapter out of 43 found in More Than Just Talk: The Essential Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Enjoy Better Conversations. Just think. If you read a chapter a day, in just over six weeks you’d know hundreds of the best kept secrets to conversing and connecting with greater authenticity, ease, graciousness, and confidence. More Than Just Talk is available on Amazon and with other online book retailers. It can also be found at BookPeople in Austin, TX. Show me you care about all the time, research, energy, resources, and love I put into this powerful success guide. Buy yourself and someone you care about a copy. You will have my undying gratitude!