“I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?” – The Oprah Winfrey Show, final episode.
This quote should be a guideline for how we (HR) interact with people at our organizations. We talk a lot about engaging and recognizing employees and those are good, necessary discussions but I think it starts at a much more basic level. It starts with respect. That is what Oprah’s quote gets at. Are we respecting the people in our organizations that dedicate 40+ hours a week to their jobs? How are we treating the people who want to work at our companies? The people whose jobs we have to eliminate? The people who maybe need a little more guidance and support to do their jobs?
This week, you, me and the rest of the world are heading back to work. We’re tired, we didn’t get as much rest as we should have, there is stuff around the house we didn’t finish and now we have no holidays or time off for the next couple months. Oh and its January, cold and bleak. At some point this week someone is going to walk into your office or call or email you and that interaction will make you roll your eyes or mutter “WTF?” under your breath. I want you to take a deep breath, pause and listen.
That’s it. Just listen. You don’t have to agree with the person. I’m not suggesting you withhold judgement or your original thought. Just listen.
Maybe you will change your mind. Maybe you won’t. But acknowledging and validating that someone is there and acknowledging their concerns goes a long way to building a great company that people want to work for.