12 Most Important Ways to Let People Know They Matter

Click here for my resources on how to make mattering THE agenda.

The measure of a life is not what that life accomplishes,

but rather the impact that life has on others.

- Jackie Robinson

When I think of people who made the biggest impact in my life, it was not their expertise or accomplishments that provided me with the direction, guidance and reassurance I needed to accomplish my goals. It was their sincere belief in me. They let me know through their words and actions that I mattered.

The people in your life want that same validation. In fact, every single person you will ever meet shares this common desire. They want to know they matter.

Mattering a universal human need. First, you need to fully accept that you matter, and then its incumbent on you to pass this message along. Would the people in your life can answer, “yes” to the following questions:

  • Do you see me?

  • Do you hear me?

  • Do you care about me?

  • Do I matter to you?

Here are The 12 Important things to do now to ensure a “yes” every time you encounter or interact with someone significant or yet-to-be significant in your life.

1.  See Them

In the movie “Avatar,” the Na’vi greeted one another with the phrase, “I see you.”

It means you have opened your mind and heart to them and are fully present. Though you may know them well, you're as interested as you were the first time you met them.

One way to let people know you see them is to begin or end sentences with the word “you.”

  • I hear you.
  • I notice the way you...
  • I understand you.
  • I appreciate you.
  • It was great to spend time with you
  • I couldn’t have done it without you
  • You made my day
  • You are a dear friend

Sure, you may say these already to your loved ones or good friends. But how often do you say them to people to whom you aren’t as close? Do you say these words to students at school, colleagues at work, a crossing guard, a receptionist or a stranger you pass on the street?

2.  Acknowledge Everyone

When you acknowledge someone, you recognize their value and importance. How about starting the day with a “Good Morning” email or Tweet? Or smiling at each and every co-workers as you pass by them by on way to the office? Or reaching out to a new acquaintance you see in a crowd or bump into in the Blogosphere?  Go out of your way to acknowledge people. Make an effort to “see them”.  Like the Na’vi in the movie Avatar, who greeted one another with the phrase “I see you” as a belief and acknowledgment there is something marvelous in everyone you meet.

3.  Listen With Interest

“More and more I’ve come to understand that listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another.... It can often be our greatest gift. Whether that person is speaking or playing or dancing, building or singing or painting, if we care, we can listen.”

- Fred Rogers, “The World According to Mr. Rogers.”

Listening means more than quietly nodding your head while waiting your turn to speak again. It means opening your ears and heart and making the other person the sole focus of your attention.

Often, this is all someone needs from you.

4. Ask Mattering not Matter-of-Fact Questions

Question are a window into our minds and intentions. We show people how much they matter by the questions we ask. How important do these questions make you feel?

  • What rocked your world today?

  • Who’s world did YOU rock today?

  • How can I make your day?

  • What can I do to make it better?

5. Be Present

The ultimate present you can give another is your PRESENCE. How many times have you been in a conversation with someone, and you know their mind is in another place? How many times have you felt “un-noticed” when someone was looking right at you? You do not have to be available for everyone in every moment … but when you have someones time and attention; honor it with your presence. Really make that person the center of your attention and experience, even if only for a few minutes.

It does wonders in the mattering department!

6. Believe in Them

“All you really need is one person to show you the epiphany of your own power and you’re off. If you can hand people the key to their own power, the human spirit is so receptive...if you open doors for people at a crucial moment, you are educating them in the best sense. You are teaching them to open doors for themselves.”

- Aimee Mullins, “The Opportunity of Adversity,” TedMed 2009

When we believe in others and encourage them to believe in themselves, we hand them the key to their own power. We help them stretch their thinking, envision success, and open the door to their true potential.

Words are contagious. Hopeful words infect people with energy and enthusiasm. Cynical words unleash energy-sucking negativity, doubt and fear.

The words we speak to others may be the catalyst that sends someone into an emotional tailspin or the spark that spurs him to great achievements - by sparking the belief that he can.

7. Deliver Happiness (HT to Zappos)

Cynicism sucks. It sucks the life out of work, business, and people.

Life and work is hard enough and it is easy to get into situations that tear us down. People want and need to be inspired. When people are inspired, they are lifted above these kinds of circumstances and allowed to see the upside of what they can achieve or become. If you can be the one who inspires them, by encouragement or modeling, you’ve helped them and you matter!

8.  Talk About Others

No one likes the person in the family, at work, or at the party who only talks about themselves, their interests, their accomplishments and their importance, right?

You become far more interesting and important when you talk about the exciting things other people are doing, trying, creating, writing, and sharing. Doing so gives you the opportunity to make a lot of new friends and establish yourself as someone who is always learning and growing from others. Now, that’s an accomplishment worth talking about.

9.  Offer Hope

At every moment of the day, we are either making the world a better place or making it worse. Our thoughts spread out and become contagious, either positively infecting others or unleashing a plague of negativity, doubt and fear. We have the power to help lift someone up or to bring them down. How we interact with those we meet may be the catalyst that sets someone into an emotional tailspin or the spark that provides them with encouragement and HOPE for a better day… or maybe even a better life.

10.  Sweat the Small Stuff

Today I heard from a friend.  It was a simple text message asking how I was doing followed by a :-). It mattered.

It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. It could be a smile, wink, or tweet.  It could be an email of praise or a pat on the back for encouragement. Or, a call to say, “hi – how ya doin’, you were on my mind. Almost always, it’s something small that makes a big difference. So, do sweat the small stuff.

11. Tell the people in your life how you feel about them

If it doesn’t come natural to you, all the more reason to do it more often. It will begin to feel natural soon. Of course, “You matter” is what everyone wants to hear, but other phrases work just as well:  “I’m happy to see you. You mean so much to me. You’re contribution to the team is immeasurable. I so appreciate you.” The language of mattering is universal; no translation necessary. Tell people and tell them often how much they matter!

12.  Choose2Matter

Mattering is a choice. Give yourself that option everyday. It doesn’t matter how you do it- it only matters that you do it. You can say it, write it, tweet it, or deliver the message in person. Make the choice everyday to tell, offer, thank, encourage, inspire, and let others know you notice and believe in them. It could be and often will be the most powerful thing you do all day. Is mattering on your TO DO list?

I’ll leave you with this final thought and challenge.

  • Can you imagine what kind of world we can create by each of us knowing we matter, believing in ourselves and supporting one another?

  • Can you imagine how actions you take today, could make a difference in some one’s life tomorrow? And that ripple would last for generations?

I can, and I know this simple, clear message of “YOU MATTER”  has the power to change lives and change the world.