Lead Well: 8 Ways to Sharpen Our People Focus

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. [Proverbs 27:17]
Everyday we interact with others. Everyday how we deal with these interactions can help us win friends and influence people. Or maybe not.

Some people seem to be naturally gifted in building relationships, handling confrontation, harnessing the opportunities that new encounters can bring. Some of us aren’t. Instead we focus more on ourselves, our interests, our point of view, our growth and our need for affirmation.

To lead well in life is to turn the focus from ourselves on to other people. To intentionally think of them. To take responsibility for playing our part which in reality is the only part we can take responsibility for.

Smile. Costs nothing to give.

Remember names. Who enjoys being called by the wrong one.

Speak words of encouragement. Specific words show we have noticed something someone has done well.

Believe the best of people. This is the difference when we focus on others and not ourselves. We can be too keen to protect our own position because we believe in us more than others.

Recognise the power of having the right people around you. People can work with you, help you to grow, stop you from making mistakes, and keep you on track with all you want to accomplish.

Pass on what you know to someone. Help others to grow. Pour into another what you have had poured into you.

The best of relationships take time and effort. Building anything takes time and great relationships are no different. Don’t compare the depth of your friendships with people with the ones they have with others. Just be a friend, serving and loving them the best you can.

Help people to know you better. It’s not that people don’t like me, it’s that they don’t understand me. Or I could put it another way and say it’s that they don’t know me well enough.

When we focus on these things we sharpen others. We make them better. We brighten their countenance. We lift them. We put a smile on their face. We put a spring in their step. We become someone known as someone who is all about helping others to flourish. 

The alternative is way too selfish and doesn’t bear thinking about.

How do you sharpen your people focus?

3 Things to Remember About the Words We Say

We say it. They hear it.

We move on from it. They get stuck in it.

We’ve forgotten what we said. They can’t forget what we said.

We need to be better at realising the power of ALL the words that we speak, the well thought out ones alongside the not so well thought out ones. ALL are powerful. ALL have influence.

We can argue that it’s not our fault that they hear it wrong and maybe there is some truth in that. However, we can play a more proactive role and possibly do more to ensure that people understand us. We have to help them know what we meant and decrease the potential for us inadvertently making someone feel worse or to cause a comment to stick at the forefront of a persons mind, lingering and festering there, leading them to think things we didn’t really mean.

It happens.

We say something to someone and (hopefully) expect them to get it. They might, they might not. It may bounce off them or it may go in. We feel better for having shared, yet they feel worse for having heard. We don’t think anything of it, they can’t stop thinking about it. At least we’ve got it off our chest, by throwing it all over their head!

Words are a challenge and we must be careful. So much presumption of understanding. So much misunderstanding. So much held on to and replayed, over and over again.

3 things to remember, to remind ourselves of…

  1. Just because it can be said, doesn’t mean it should be said. If we are honest, most opinions should never be shared. A lot of our thoughts should remain just that, a thought. This goes for posting on social media too.
  2. Never assume that those listening get the meaning of what is being said. What we say and what others hear do not always match. Presumption can be a killer. Plus no one should want to think that they have upset someone through blurting out some unfiltered thoughts.
  3. Ask yourself whether what you are saying is believing the best or the worst of the person, or the situation. If it is not believing the best, come up with a different way of saying it. Pause. Consider. Then speak.

I am not an expert at this. I get it right and I get it wrong. One thing I am determined to do is put as much effort in as possible to getting it right more often than not. Hopefully I’m improving. How about you?

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Act Loving First

It is easier to act our way into feelings than feel our way into actions.

Over these next few days as we remember the ultimate action of love demonstrated by Jesus towards us let’s reflect this in our interactions towards others.

We won’t always ‘feel’ like loving others. Even Jesus asked for what was about to come his way to be taken from him. Yet he ‘chose’ to love us. We won’t feel our way into loving others. Instead we have to act our way into loving others by doing something that demonstrates a love for them.

We need to learn to communicate well, giving words of encouragement and affirmation. Choose to appreciate rather than criticise.

We need to learn to empathise with others and see things through their eyes. Don’t judge another persons way of handling something just because you would deal with it differently.

We need to look for opportunities to meet a need. We can’t wait for them to fall from the sky, go find them. Everybody has needs.

We need to be willing to share ourselves and make more connections. This is when love actions just become a way of life. This is about loving others beyond convenience or no cost involved.

Act first. Act loving towards others first. Who knows what might happen.

 

Listen In.

We need to listen in.

We need to have an ear to hear what’s going on.

I’m not talking about eavesdropping. I’m thinking more about the development of a genuine interest in the conversations going on around us. Tonight, as I sit upstairs, I can hear the hubbub of the Connect Group happening in our front room. A bunch of young people discussing the recent series in Church. I can’t make out what they are saying yet it’s a beautiful sound to hear.

It’s full of the encouragement of friends. The sharing of thoughts and ideas. Prayers being spoken over one another. In the rush of my day I could easily miss this.

Listening is an art that many have lost. We talk too much. Some of us talk far too much. We have something to say and no time to listen. We want our questions answered and our opinions heard, yet I feel that maybe it there is a greater benefit if we would just listen more, listen to the sound of the hearts of the people around us. That maybe we should ask more questions about them and avoid just talking about ourselves, again.

Listening isn’t easy. In a world of non-stop noise it’s difficult to hear, so let’s pay better attention. Let’s celebrate the good things we hear but also be willing to be an ear for those who are troubled. Let’s listen to the stories, the journeys, the searching. Let’s close our own mouths and encourage others to open theirs.

Listen for what isn’t spoken. The cry of a heart is louder when you actually listen out for it. Unspoken words are often the most powerful words. That real meaning to what is being said. Let’s be people who ask the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom to hear what’s going on in the heart of our friends.

Listen to what God is saying. I think God can shout. However, a shout is still useless if we have already chosen not to listen. When we make time and pay attention, the whisper of God can sound more like a hurricane. I want to hear God’s voice. I need to hear God’s voice.

Listen in. God has something to say.

Listen in. The people around us are saying something and they need us to hear. We mustn’t be so busy about what we want that it gets missed.