Stories from my past: Vote of confidence

I have worked in companies where I am the only IT person, and also as part of teams. As a team member, you find that certain people are more comfortable with you than others. You don’t take it personally, it just personality.

So when someone doesn’t like me, its life. If someone does like me, well that can change, so you don’t take that personally either. What happens though is that eventually with time, people start coming to you even if they don’t like you because you get the job done.

I was sick once and the next day I returned I had a coworker tell me that she was relieved I was here. She said that she didn’t have faith in the rest of the IT Team. The other members of the team had been at the company far longer than me, so she had plenty of experiences with them. She said that I was always able to fix her problems and she appreciated that.

So that makes you feel good of course, but it is also a sad comment on the perception of the department. In many places I have worked the perception of IT has been negative. When I have worked at companies with this perception, people expect to have an unpleasant interaction so they treat you as though you are going to give one. It is not my intention to brag, but simply to share that the biggest difficulty anyone faces is the past experiences of those they serve.

The image of Kermit and Chip serves to illustrate this point. I watched The Muppets and though I wanted to like it, I could not. I don’t like stereotypes, and having Chip being stereotyped didn’t set well with me. Part of the original intention of the muppets was to have fun, and that was a cheap shot at smart people. Yes of course IT people sometimes act that way, maybe even look like Chip, but it does a disservice to people who are critical to our nations future and competitiveness.

Chip may be a nerd, but he is also human. Treat him as human and you help him become a better one.

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Thrill others with an unexpected compliment

I have had some unexpected and very pleasant compliments in my life. The reason I am sharing this is to help others to be able to give those kind of compliments to others. They were received with gratitude and gratefulness that some people had the insight to see who I am.

  1. Look beyond the obvious. Compliments are nice, but the ones that only state the obvious are not as special as those who look a little deeper. I have glasses so I am often called smart, so being called smart while nice, doesn’t really resonate with me. Sure it is nice to be seen as smart, but I think my best qualities are more than intelligence.
  2. Ignore their body. I’m sure that many men and women who are attractive are glad to read this. They get tired of being called attractive, and wonder if the person who is complimenting them is capable of seeing more than that. Attractive people know they are attractive. You don’t need to tell them this. If they don’t believe they are attractive then your compliment isn’t going to change their mind. If they are handicapped, or possess a unique physical feature, please don’t point it out. They have heard all the jokes from the good-natured people who tried to build their self-esteem with good intentions.
  3. Notice something that speaks out to you. One of the meaningful compliments I received was someone who said I was “resilient.” No one had ever complimented me like that before. It showed insight of her to notice that, and I appreciated that. Try to compliment something that you know is unique to their personality. Like the way they pause before they play the piano and laugh. Say something like “I love the way that you thoughtfully think about what you share with others.”
  4. Tell them when you are both alone or not overheard by others. It will be more special when it will been perceived as just a simple heartfelt exchange, rather than for some kind of social benefit.
  5. Tell them when they don’t expect it. If you tell them when there is no reason to tell them, you increase your authenticity. Often people feel that others are obligated to “cheer them up” or some kind of garbage like that. If you just randomly tell them with no particular motive, it shows that it is sincere. When I have given compliments to people who are depressed or feeling bad about themselves they interpret that as having pity on them and negating the compliment.
  6. Feel the feeling before you tell them. If you want them to feel good, first feel good about what you are saying. You are sharing a private thought, a good feeling and you have a right to feel good in sharing it. Smile and open your heart when you say whatever you say. You may be the spark that this person needs.
  7. Don’t look for perfection to give a compliment. These are suggestions, but almost any compliment is a good compliment. I enjoy making people feel good, so I try to make things more special. However sometimes you are not in situations where you can follow these. Even a simple word makes all the difference. For example, I was on a bus once and the driver was especially helpful to a blind passenger. I had never seen before or since a bus driver who was so thoughtful to his passenger. Its been at least 20 years, but I remember his kindness like it was yesterday. I had to act in that moment. After the blind passenger got to his stop, I told the driver that I noticed the kindness that he treated the gentleman with. He said it was no big deal, but I said that kindness is always a big deal and that I wanted to thank him for being so generous. He thanked me and I left. If I was the older black gentlemen like the blind guy was, I would have so appreciated his effort to help me.
  8. Compliments are noble. They encourage and provide hope to those people who strive each day to be the best person they can be. Often life is difficult, and there are many ways in which people struggle to do the most loving thing they can do. We may not be able to donate money, or help someone in a meaningful way, but we can at least support and encourage them in whatever way we see available. Compliments are evergreen trees. They give people hope, and sometimes for years.
  9. Giving the compliment is enough. Don’t look to get anything more than that. Sometimes people don’t expect or know how to handle a compliment. It is a sad thing that often when you are kind to others, they don’t know how to react to it. Don’t argue with whatever they say. If they negate the compliment then you are not their psychologist and in a position to argue with them. Just smile and move on. Sometimes it takes time to sink in. Sometimes it never sinks in. All you can really do in life in plant seeds of kindness and love and hope they take root. It’s not up to you to water your tree.
  10. Give compliments as you can. It is not your job to compliment everyone. It is not your job to do what feels fake. Only compliment if you believe it. If you don’t believe it, don’t say it.

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