5 Tips for Communicating Value
5 Tips for Communicating Value
Are you looking to help the people around you know how important they are to you? Do you want your employees to feel valued? Your family members to feel loved? Your students to really feel like you care about each and every one of them? Communicating value is a great way to do this! You may be wondering, “But what does that even mean?” I have also wondered and thought a lot about this and now believe that it can vary by the people communicating and the people being communicated with. The following five tips are general guidelines that can help you decide what communicating value looks like for you!
- Use Empathy
- Make it About Them
- Make it Frequent
- Use Your Resources
- Get Feedback
1. Use Empathy
Utilizing empathy can go a long way in effectively communicating value. Use what you know about the individual or group of people with whom you wish to communicate value. What do they value? What are their interests? What are their stressors? Use your knowledge to empathize with the person or group and personalize the way you communicate value!
People close to me (and probably most people who know me) know that I have great admiration for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). When she passed away, I received so many “thinking of you” messages, and one of my coworkers even stopped by my house to give me an RBG mug and RBG puzzle. It felt so personalized and thoughtful. If you are a teacher, you can think about what your student’s interests are. Could you incorporate them into your lessons? Into choice time? If you are an administrator, what are the greatest stressors for your teachers? Can you provide a solution that minimizes one or more of those stressors? If you are an employer, do your employees have food allergies? If so, how can you make sure those people have options at any company lunches or if you bring snacks into the office? If you don’t know about the individual or group of people, ask! Then use your newfound knowledge for good!
2. Make it About Them
It may seem obvious, but I have to remind myself about this regularly. I have failed at many attempts to use my knowledge for good. One year, one of my brothers was interested in developing healthy habits, so I gave him a wristband that tracks steps and other health details. I was so proud of myself. But the thing is, I didn’t think about wrist size and he was never actually able to use it! I was thinking about how I could give a thoughtful gift, not how he would be able to use it. In conversations, making it about them means giving them opportunities to talk and really listening when they do. It means not interrupting to share your ideas or offer solutions. Really listen to them. Use other’s names- pronounced correctly. If you are unsure how to be supportive, ask! For instance, if a mentee or friend is telling you about a problem, it can be helpful to ask if they are looking for ideas for a solution or if they just need you to listen.
3. Make it Frequent
Frequent attempts to communicate value can really emphasize that value. The illusory truth effect cognitive bias tells us that when we hear repeated information, we are more likely to believe it. The cognitive bias is really geared toward the tendency to believe false information when it is frequently repeated, but the idea can be extrapolated to other situations. Our minds believe things more and register them differently, the more we hear something. Frequently communicating value might be greeting someone by name every day, thanking them each time they share ideas, or not interrupting them in conversations. It does not always need to be grand gestures. Do it frequently so they believe it, then keep doing it so they don’t forget!
4. Use Your Resources
Has your employer ever given you a coffee gift card or a bonus? Monetary recognition can feel great but it is not the only type of recognition and it is typically not a frequent type of communication of value. So what other resources can you use? Your time! It could be larger chunks of time like taking a person out to lunch, but it can be shorter chunks too! For instance, “I have been thinking a lot about your idea, and I would love to bring it up at the next board meeting.” Maybe it is providing the person with space, sick time, or opportunities for professional development. My sister has a long-standing record of making gifts for the rest of us in the family. I have received a lot of gifts, but the ones she made me are some of the ones I remember/use the most because she spent so much time and care making them!
5. Get Feedback
Getting feedback can communicate value in several ways. First, it tells people you care what they think or have to say about something. Second, it can also help you to learn more in your efforts to empathize with them (tip 1) or to make it about them (tip 2). If I would have followed up with my brother and his fitness wristband right away, I would have known to return it and get him one that actually worked for him! As an employer, if you want to know if your efforts at communicating feedback are working, you could use an anonymous survey.
You don’t have to keep all of these tips in mind at all times! You don’t even need to use them all if they don’t make sense for you, but I challenge each of you to think about what tip resonated the most with you and what is one thing you could do to incorporate it into your daily practice. For me, it is making it about them. I want to always look at the person I am talking to (if in person), even if this means pausing the text message I am writing or the email I am reading so I can look up, see them, and really listen. I want to use my resources of time and attention to make people feel their value.
By Kalin Schoephoerster