The most common searches that lead folks to my blog oftentimes have something to do with “adding value.” They want to add value to their company, or add value to their network, or show on their résumé how they will add value to a prospective employer.
If all goes well, adding value to someone else will bring value back full circle. That’s not as smarmy as it sounds. If it is a symbiotic relationship, everyone benefits and the flow of added value continues to go both ways.
There are different ways to go about adding value, but your perceptions are not the important factor here. The activities you do only add value if the other party perceives them as adding value. It won’t amount to a hill of beans if you put forth your best efforts, but the outcomes of those efforts don’t connect in a meaningful way with your audience.
So, how do you figure out what will add value?
Your response to what you just read was likely, “Well, of course. I knew that.” And, yes, it’s common sense — by keeping our mouths shut, our ears open, and paying attention to what is being said, we can learn a lot about what’s important to someone else.
But how many of you really put this into practice? Be honest now.
It’s very hard to do. I know I continually strive to improve this skill. The overwhelming inclination is to filter everything through our own lenses, put our own spin on things, make assumptions on what we think is best. You’re not just listening; you’re interpreting what is coming into your brain. Just like in the game of telephone, the message becomes distorted, tainted by our perceptions.
It becomes even more challenging if we are experiencing a stressful time in our careers. In those situations, we don’t merely filter the inputs; we default to putting the focus on ourselves, taking the inputs and asking “How can this help me?” in favor of “What needs does this person have?” But it’s in those moments that we should put forth more effort to really listen and find out how we can add value to others.
So start right now — listen to what is being said. You’d be surprised at what you’ve been misinterpreting and how much your connections improve because of the real value you are now bringing.
Image courtesy of Beverly & Pack
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