We all want to be successful. And we’re constantly in search of the latest tip, trick, or technique that will give us that edge. I’ve found, however, that one of the clearest paths to success is a lot simpler than you might think — having a positive impact on others.
How you treat people is more indicative of your ability to achieve than your credentials. If your professional success has any connection to working with people — which includes just about all of us — then making a positive impression on others is critical for achieving your goals.
In my work with leaders and rank-and-file alike at some of America’s biggest companies, I’ve found that there are two character traits that are guaranteed “success-killers” — and should be avoided at all costs.
Entitlement. Entitlement is defined as having a right to something. When others sense that you feel you aren’t working to earn their business, friendship, or engagement at work, they immediately shut down the effort. Entitlement sends a message to others that you deserve everything that is coming to you without needing to work for it.
A good example of this is when one colleague has more experience than another. There is an inherent sense that the more experienced person has the right to the job, and that the less-experienced person doesn’t. However, in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, author Carmine Gallo cites Neuroscientist Gregory Berns, who said, “To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before. Novelty releases the perceptual process from the shackles of the past experiences and forces the brain to make new judgments.”
Translation: Yes, your colleague may have less experience, but he or she could have a unique perspective that might bring forth new ideas. In addition, more and more leaders of forward-thinking companies share with me that they are looking less at experience and more for capability. Being entitled can shut the door for innovation — and that is a success-killer in a world where innovation is everything.
Lack of Appreciation. This is a big one. With people now working longer hours and being constantly attached to their email and work, not showing appreciation is something that can kill not only your employees’ desire to perform, but can be a turnoff for customers as well.
Appreciation can be one of those things that seems so obvious and simple that we forget its importance or assume we are doing it. However, more often than not, it’s overlooked. It requires someone taking the simple, but proactive step of saying, “Thank you,” or “I appreciate your hard work.”
Think of your favorite neighborhood spots. I live in New York City and I have a handful of cafés that I frequent. There is one in particular that I have been going to for years. I know the owner and other regulars. I routinely recommend it to people. Recently, they raised their prices on coffee refills, from $1 to $3.50. I know the Big Apple is expensive, but the idea of paying full price for a small mug of coffee at a place I have frequented for 10 years is a big change and deserves some acknowlegement. The owner of the café charged me the new amount without any explanation or sign of appreciation for my continued patronship. I have not been back since.
I share this anecdote because I think it’s a great example of how powerful small acts of appreciation can affect your impact on others — whether it’s in the office or your local café.
The old-school days of success-through-an-iron-fist are waning. It’s not that such behavior doesn’t exist anymore, but forward-thinking companies that want to attract the best talent are focused on creating cultures where employees feel valued. When you think about small changes you can make to boost your potential for success, start with looking at how you make others feel. Not feeling entitled and being more thoughtful with appreciation could very well take you the next level.
This article was written by Laura Garnett from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.