Whether your goal is recruitment, networking, or just to meet more people around campus/work/community, I encourage you to approach small talk differently. A stranger and I are not going to go from zero to BFFs in one conversation. But every time we see each other if we allow ourselves to be more and more vulnerable the connection will be made and a friendship or respect-backed working relationship will be formed. Small talk is only meaningless when we approach it with a negative tone, so flip your small talk script!
As a student leader I was like this. I was over-committed, never said “no”, rarely slept, gained weight, and my academics suffered. I wanted to be there for everyone. As a Resident Assistant I was there for all of my residents at all hours and I was ready to talk with them about whatever whenever and for as long as they needed. My own schedule didn’t matter and what my body was telling me mattered even less.
My supervisor, Michelle, pulled me aside after my pattern had repeated itself a number times. She told me to look at my life as if it was a pie. Now, you already know I am all about some desserts (here’s my post about chocolate “magic shell”), so I was quickly on board. She said, cut your pie to where each slice represents an accurate percentage of how much time you devote to different aspects of your life weekly. Include sleep, studying, time spent with your partner, social life, time in the gym, each of the clubs you’re involved in, classes, and being a resident assistant. Needless to say, I had a lot of small pieces. After seeing my pie she then asked me a question: Is it fair to you and to others that each of these commitments only gets this small percentage of your energy and time?
So my question to you is: how do you show your organization’s members, co-workers, etc. that you love and appreciate them? We all show love differently; and, we all like to be shown love differently, too. Some people would rather be told they did a good job over getting a hug. Others might not feel special because you bought them a gift, they would have rather you spent time with them and just talked. In order to find out how they like to be appreciated, ask! Don’t assume that you know the best way to make someone feel validated.
A very simple thing you can do is have everyone on your team take Gary Chapman’s free and quick “5 Love Languages” test at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/. Chapman breaks down the way we give and show into five categories: quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. After your team takes it, share with one another and make a note of how each person you are working with likes to be shown love so, when the time is right, you can truly make them feel appreciated. (Note: if physical touch is their number one, you might also want to write down their second choice…no need to make it awkward.) On that note, I am going to go tell Sophie the results of my Love Languages test.
A powerful decision was made by CVS/Pharmacy today. They announced that they would no longer carry any tobacco products in their stores. It was definitely a bold and profit-effecting move but when asked about it CVS CEO, Larry J. Merio, stated, ”Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” and concluded with, “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
BOOM! I love this. 1st off, let’s be honest… this move is not going to make CVS broke. They are doing just fine. But it is the reason behind the company’s firm choice that is role modeling and authentic leadership at its finest.
Authentic leaders must lead from their gut: from their own personal definition of what is right and what is wrong (aka morals). The moment we feel like we are doing something incongruent with our morals we must stop and think, “why am I who I am?” Our morals are the foundation that we build everything in our lives upon. CVS realized just that. They felt that selling cigarettes was going against their idea of what is right for them and their customers.
Morals in business often get fuzzy because at the end of the day money has to be made otherwise there is no business. That is where the idea of “purpose” comes in. Your purpose, or the reason behind why you do what you do, can have multiple aspects but the minute we take our morals out of the equation is the minute we begin failing.
CVS’s purpose is two-fold: they want to help people on their journey to better health and they want to make a profit doing so. I am sure they don’t advertise the second half as much, but it’s implied. I like to say, your intent will influence your impact. By selling tobacco products it blurs CVS’ intent which is to help people live healthier lives and it negates their desired impact: people actually living healthier lives.
This is a great example for us all to learn from. As student leaders we are sometimes faced with hard decisions. The most popular decision is not always the best decision and short-term praise is often chased over long-term success. We see it all of the time in racist/sexist theme parties thrown by organizations. Sure the party will be a blast and will get your organization immediate attention, but it will do so at the cost of greatly damaging your organizations proud historied purpose. You may have initially joined that org because of the pomp and circumstance but you’ll rep that org till the day you die when you uphold and live out it’s purpose.
Shout out to CVS/Pharmacy for making a purpose-based decision today. And shout out to the student leaders who are doing that on their campuses every day.
Recently, while eating ice cream, I thought about how it feels like some people are wearing “magic shells.” They cover their true selves with a “shell” or shield because they think they have to succeed. They think that if they show their true personality people will judge them and think less of them. This is a survival method for the insecure. I know because I still do it from time to time.
This a detrimental approach for leaders. The trust building in relationships that stems from authentic conversations far outweighs the importance of temporarily looking good when it comes to long-term success. Don’t be the kind of person who jumps in front of the parade and steals all of the credit. If we are going to effectively lead our peers then we must show them that we are human, we make mistakes just like everyone else. We shouldn’t be afraid to let people in – as scary as that might be. It’s OK if you don’t know everything, it’s OK if you’ve messed up, we’ve all done it and that’s what makes us human… its what helps us grow. Just remember that if you’re too busy trying to “fake it till ya make it” then you are missing out on opportunities to build real relationships, with real people, without the pressure or distraction of being inauthentic. So instead, surround yourself with people who have strengths you lack so that you can openly and honestly learn and grow together. Take a risk – take off your magic shell.
The William & Mary Sigma Chi email is 1 of the worst things I’ve ever read. Atrociously disrespectful & really sad. I will not post it here because it’s that offensive and pathetic but i will say this: Men, we need to be better. We must call each other out when we hear misogynistic speech and we must stand up for respect of others over “bro-code”. I know it sucks being labeled as “that guy” but I’d rather be “that guy” and have a bunch of “that guy-s” for friends than be the chump who just laughs awkwardly at something they KNOW is wrong.
So a man calls another man mediocre a few times after a football game and the media is in a frenzy and all of the racists come out from under the rug we swept them under. Then later that week a different man gets arrested for DUI, reckless driving, drinking underage, and resisting arrest, and our news feeds are filled with jokes and news reporters have a smirk when speaking about what happened. Both men are famous, both should have known to think before they speak/act, one verbally insulted someone, the other put human lives at risk (including his own). Yet, the media’s angles are notably different and so are the conversations we are having. In one instance the 1st man is villanized and in the other the man is merely laughed about. Interesting, America…interesting.
My favorite quote in this powerful women’s empowerment track by Shad, a rapper out of Canada who doesn’t get nearly the play he deserves in the States. Give it a listen:
Shad – Keep Shining