Growing up in my family, achievement was celebrated, from earning my own money to go to camp or buying my bike to ride to work as a golf caddie. Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and receiving my full tuition and housing scholarship to Michigan State University with the Evans Scholarship were huge achievements for me. I thought that everyone thought like me. Work hard, sacrifice, put in the time and the effort, achieve things and good things would happen. It was not until I was 30 years old that my wife told me “No Andy, not everybody thinks like you”. They do not believe the same things; they don’t behave the same way. They don’t even have the same hopes and dreams. I was shocked. I had no idea. I did not understand.
Guess who had the problem? I did. I thought that everyone had the same motivations, aspirations, and inclinations as me. It was not true. It was at this point in my life and career when I decided that I was going to learn what made people tick. I wanted to understand people. Not collectively but individually.
How to Understand People
If I wanted to understand people, I learned that I had to ask questions. How did they grow up? Where did they grow up? Siblings? What about their parents, school, first job? Hopes and Dreams? Fears? It may sound funny, but I had to dig into these same questions for myself, because nobody wants to feel like they are being interrogated. No one wants to be that vulnerable. But, if I was first to sort of provide the narrative to my story, I found people would be a little more transparent with their story. In fact, every time I found myself face to face with another person, we found some things in common that we could build upon and some level of trust between people could be established.
A Foundation of Trust
Establishing this basis of trust was something we could build upon slowly, over time. It’s important to note that in the 12 points of the Scout Law, the very first one is “A Scout is Trustworthy.” Being trustworthy is the cornerstone to any healthy relationship: on teams, in organizations, in friendships, in marriage, and in families. As a speaker and sales consultant, trust is the foundation on which I built my career.
We must learn to understand another’s hopes, another’s fears, their passions, their perspectives. As the adage goes Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. People want to know that you care about them as an individual. If you are in the business of getting along with other people to achieve team goals, organizational objectives, and enjoy healthy relationships, we must make the emotional deposit of understanding the individual.