Humanize People

Seeing an individual as human, as a person, is one of the most difficult things for leaders to do. We interact with humans everywhere we go, but they come and go without us seeing their humanity.  This happens in our organizations as well.

One of the most important gifts we can give others is the gift of our time.  The word gift is used purposely.  A gift is something we give with no expectation of a return.  We simply give it because we value them as a human being.  Time is one of the most valuable resources of a leader.  When we gift our time, it sends a clear message to the learner that we value them as a person – we humanize them.  There is no other motivation behind it than to help.

Leadership Warning: Objectification VS Humanize

The opposite of humanizing someone is to objectify.  We objectify others when they become nothing more than a means to the end.  We see them as a part or a process rather than as a human.  It is nearly impossible to build another person when they feel dehumanized.  They immediately put up their guard and view any interaction with suspicion.

The most important thing about this principle is to realize that we will regularly objectify others, but we retain our ability to lead when we catch ourselves, correct our actions, and transparently acknowledge our mistakes.  This endears a leader to the learners and makes the positive humanizing interactions powerful and more meaningful.

As a young, twenty-two-year-old entrepreneur, I remember a conversation I had where I completely objectified someone on my team with a poor choice of words. We were having a team lunch for our sales team and had invited everyone’s spouses as well. I was talking to the husband of one of our top sales leaders who said, “You guys are growing so quickly, it is amazing to see what is happening.” “Without thinking, I replied, “Your wife is making us so much money!” And you could automatically see in his face what that comment did. Instead of humanizing his wife and praising her performance, the comment objectified her.

Those types of comments and interactions unfortunately happen all too often, and it is our job to recognize them, repair them and work every day to humanize the people we interact with.

One of my favorite words is an Indian word that my friend Kevin Hall introduced to me in his book Aspire. “Genshai means that you will never treat another person in a manner that will make them feel small.”  – This is the key to humanizing those around you. Practice Genshai.


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