Are You Making Others Feel Small?


Last week I was having a conversation with my assistant about another person. She paused for a moment and said, “Can I be honest?” I said, “Of course.” Then she said, “Every time I have interacted with him, I feel like he has somewhere more important to be. He makes me feel like I don’t matter, like he is having the conversation because he has to and not because he wants to and he is ready to move on as quickly as possible.”

Have you ever felt that from someone else?

I’m sure we all have at one time or another but the more poignant question is – Have you ever done that to someone else?

My friend Kevin Hall wrote a great book called Aspire. In the book he dissects the meaning of words and in the first chapter he introduces an Indian word – Genshai. Genshai means that you never treat another person in a manner to make them feel small. Leaders who practice Genshai build people up, give people undivided attention and make them feel important.

I have noticed that one of the most common ways that we make other people feel small is when we don’t give them time and attention. When we make other people feel like they are not worth our time, we not only make them feel small but we erode our ability to influence and impact that person for good.

Last week I was speaking for the leadership team of First Watch Restaurants in Florida. As we discussed the in restaurant visits that these Regional Vice Presidents are making on a daily basis, one of the RVP’s expressed a concern. He said, “How do we make each person feel important and spend the time when we have so much to get done. We don’t have enough time in the day.”

My response was, “I know that you are busy and so am I, we all are. But don’t make your issues become someone else’s issues. The person you are sitting with doesn’t need to know you are busy – it’s not their issue, it’s yours.”

That may be harsh – but it’s true.

When we give people time and attention, we make them feel important and we practice genshai.

When we act like we have somewhere more important to be – we make other people feel small, which is the opposite of leadership.



One Response

  1. This is right on. Not harsh. It is apparent this leader does not understand he will be even more busy as he makes people feel small. He will be able to get more done as he gives people the appropriate amount of time and attention.

    Great post! You are right we are all guilty of it!

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