By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service.
Have you ever watched a war film, a cowboy movie or a science fiction episode where somebody was trying to conquer somebody else’s world? The drama was quite engaging, wasn’t it?
In these situations, somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. It’s over when the loser is really hurt or put out of commission totally.
But in real life, the best kind of power involves the opposite. The actual hero is someone who is busy building up other people, not tearing them down.
While this won’t work all situations, it will work in many everyday life scenarios. However, this strategy takes lots and lots of practice.
If you can build other people up, you will be long remembered after you die. And you’ll never lack for a job while you’re alive. Employers will be standing in line to hire you, if you can bring out the best in others.
“I love working with teachers who can build up students,” says a high school principal we’ll call Lewis. “I’ve had some awful teachers who demoralized our students. Well, actually, let me go further. I’ve had a few students return after graduation to tell me they’ve wound up in therapy because of hateful teachers who ripped them apart.”
Most of us can recall a teacher, a boss, a neighbor or a relative who tried to chip away at our self- esteem.
If you go through life bringing out the best in other people, your legacy can’t get any better than this. If you make other people feel capable and respected, this has a huge ripple effect.
“People with good self-esteem got that way because somebody made them feel valued,” says a psychologist we’ll call Phyllis.
“My patients with low self-esteem have a lot of health problems and relationship problems. This sounds strange, but I have them start silently bragging on themselves. They need to hear words inside their own minds that make them feel capable, worthy of respect.”
Here are some tips for building up other people:
-Remember to thank them. If your children set the table, be sure to say, “I appreciate your help.” Let others know they matter to you and that you notice what they do.
-Ask for their advice. Even if you’ve hired a young college student in your department, ask his or her advice on a few things. Ask, “What is the best computer virus program?” Or, ask, “What can we do to make things run more smoothly around here? I want your opinion.”
-Give others work you know they’ll do well. While all tasks can’t be easy ones, make it a point to hand over some tasks they’ll ace with no problem. For example, ask your grandson to water flowers on the back patio. Brag on him in front of the family.
-Encourage people on purpose. Remember that the only way to truly change someone is to encourage him or her little by little. If your brother slips up and falls off his Alcoholics Anonymous program, be sure to say, “I know that’s not going to defeat you. Let it go, and take a fresh start. I believe in you.”
Taking the high road will set an example for those around you, too. You want those in your circle to get the idea that building up other people is a powerful idea.
Think about this: If you died today, the words you’ve spoken to and about other people will live on. What would your words say about you?
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)