Be a People Builder

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Danny_Blog_size“Good job.  Nice work.  I like the way you solved that issue.  Thanks for all your help.  I appreciate your attention to detail.  Thanks for staying late.”

Unless there’s something majorly wrong with you (let’s face it, we’re all a little crazy), chances are you like when your hard work is acknowledged.  When our efforts go unnoticed, particularly when it’s regarding something we’ve really poured ourselves into, it tends to diminish our drive to work so hard.  When it’s a continuing trend, it can actually alter our work ethic.

On the other hand, the compulsion to succeed, the go-getter, can-do attitude and positive energy is palpable – almost tangible – among groups of people who are not only lead with positive reinforcement, but when it’s displayed among peers as well.

But it’s not like this is a new concept to any of us… it’s just that we all need a reminder from time to time.

Never underestimate the power of positive
As a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, I worked on a large dairy farm owned by two brothers.  Both men were under a lot of stress, but how they handled it was entirely different.  Brother #1 was positive 90% of the time, and neutral when he was completely worn out.  He’d always thank me for doing a good job, and tell me specific things I’d done above and beyond what was expected.

Brother #2 was surly and negative, always looking for a reason to snap at employees.  When he didn’t have a reason, he’d make one.  All employees did their best to avoid him.

At the time, I didn’t realize that my job on the farm was the perfect real-life experiment to determine worker output based on the employers attitude.

When I was sent on a task by Brother #1, I was cheerful, held my head high, got the work done quickly and did it better than anyone else on the farm.  When Brother #2 asked for something, I’d do the work, but I didn’t do it well.  I’d toss tools around, cut corners and generally see to it with a bad attitude.

The work itself was identical.  The difference was simply who gave the order.  But the implications for their business were bigger than what one high school kid thought of his boss.  I was one of at least half a dozen employees that eventually had enough of Brother #2, and left because of it.

Empower people
By being positive and building others up – like Brother #1 – we’re really empowering them.  We make them believe in themselves, trust in their own abilities, and ultimately build better lives for themselves.  Positive words are very powerful.

I don’t mean praising someone when it’s not warranted, but rather looking for opportunities to genuinely thank or compliment when it’s appropriate.  Far too often we don’t.

Many of us go through life without stopping to mention that we noticed someone’s efforts.  In doing so – even in a tiny simple way – we can alter the direction of someone’s day, week, or beyond.

Give credit where it’s due instead of letting it go by unnoticed, whether that credit goes to your kids, your spouse, your boss, or the new apprentice.  Make a habit of it and be shocked by the changes you see as a result.

Daniel Vastyan is account manager, writer and videographer for Common Ground, a trade communications firm based in Manheim, PA.  The focus of their work is the plumbing and mechanical, HVAC, geothermal, solar and radiant heat industries. Dan routinely writes about and uses video to track progressive, cutting-edge mechanical systems large and small, and the professionals whose work and expertise make it come to fruition.  He can be reached at 717/664-0535, or

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