Rupert (my associate) e-mailed me an article by the CEO of The Energy Project, Tony Schwartz. This CEO points out how we often devalue each other. He quotes Daniel Goleman who, in his book Social Intelligence, states, “Threats to our standing in the eyes of others are almost as powerful as those to our very survival.”
We all want to feel like we count for something, that we have value, that what we do has value. We can spend all kinds of time and effort to solve problems at work, home, church, or wherever, and strive to resolve conflicts, but if people don’t feel valued then we’re not going to get to first base at solving anything. Schwartz writes, “The more we feel devalued — and we all do at various times, to varying degrees — the more energy we spend defending and restoring our value, and the less energy we have available to create value.”
Jesus summarized the purpose for humans as found in the Holy Scriptures by stating we’re to love God and to love our neighbor as our self. A significant way we show love for those we rub shoulders with daily (our “neighbors”) is to let them know, in different and creative ways, that we value them.
Schwartz suggests that one way is by genuinely asking people how they’re feeling. He says, “That’s a very different question than the standard ‘How are you?’ we all ask each other every day.” I think Schwartz is on to something here. People around us need to know that we care about what’s going on inside their heads and especially their hearts. We need to communicate that life’s not primarily about productivity, conflict resolution, healthy competition that stimulates the best effort out of everyone, meeting the expectations of someone else or having our expectations met. Life’s about communicating that we value the other person as a person! If we do this then, more than likely, all these other issues will tend to work themselves out.
Behind the facade of every person is a little boy or little girl who desperately wants to be accepted, appreciated, respected, valued. Yes, sometimes people go about trying to feel valued in stupid ways – by being pompous and arrogant, pulling rank, putting down others, always needing to win, dressing for success, and the list goes on. We find it easy to be angry, hurt, intimidated, or whatever by all of this. But if we can just look beyond the facade and see a little boy or little girl who simply wants to be valued then we’re on our way to bringing God and His kingdom into our workplace, marriage and family, church, neighborhood, and everywhere else life takes us!