I was having a discussion with a group of delegates who had pegged humility as one of the attributes that they felt makes a colleague trustworthy and approachable. We spent some time trying to define exactly what humility was and how to engender it in others.
First off, we agreed that one can’t engender humility in others if one wasn’t totally sincere when exhibiting this behaviour oneself. People automatically sense if something is feigned.
We’re subconsciously attuned to anything that might pose a threat to us and false behaviour in another sends up red flags immediately – that person is not to be trusted – not safe – defend, defend, defend…
Immediately, we’re on the defensive
; effective communication becomes impossible.
My group and I decided to draw up a list of what we believe comprises humility
– so here goes:
Owning up to an error immediately in a manner which invites problem solving because you accept full responsibility: “This is my mess and here’s what I’m going to do to remedy the situation.”
Sometimes taking the fall for someone else when it would effectively resolve a difficult issue without any destructive fall-out. (We didn’t all agree on this point!).
It’s understanding that, in many instances, being kind is often more important than being right.
It’s forgiving with a view to helping others to move past their mistakes.
It’s stepping back to allow others to step forward.
It’s helping without expecting anything in return – just because you can.
It’s understanding that knowing more than someone else doesn’t mean you’re superior – it means there’s an opportunity for you to assist in upskilling them – if they ask for it.
It’s the opposite of arrogance.
It’s truly seeing people as equal – not all the same – but equal. This means you won’t be jeopardising your position in the world by allowing them to shine.
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