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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Tips for Improving Interactions

Let me state right away that if you’re looking for a shopping list, this isn’t the article for you! The “gifts” that I’m talking about today have to do with time, intention, and kindness. To me, these types of gifts are worth far more than any purchases you could make. They center on humanity and creating a more harmonious workspace, home, neighborhood, and world.

My list includes 6 different gifts you can easily give to others. How might life change if we all attempted to give each other these gifts every day?

1. The gift of attentiveness

People can usually tell when you’re listening…and they can tell when you’re more interested in your phone, your grocery list, or whatever is on your laptop screen. Practice being present for others. Tuck your distractions away and give them your full, undivided attention. In a world brimming with distractions, your attentiveness is truly a valuable gift.

[For more on good listening practices, click here!]

2. The gift of punctuality

Show others that you respect them and their time by making an effort to be punctual. If you were meeting with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, would you show up late? Almost certainly not! You wouldn’t dream of it. Then, why would you show up late for a Zoom meeting with a co-worker? That says something about how much you value and respect them and their time, doesn’t it? And if you are running late (it happens!), send a quick message to let that person know. It’s a quick and courteous thing to do.

3. The gift of follow-through

When you say you’re going to do something, do it. It really is that simple. Nothing can destroy trust faster than not following through with a promise. Conversely, if you do make an effort to stay true to your word, meet deadlines, and follow through, you will build yourself an excellent reputation. In other words, keeping your commitments is not only a gift to others, it is also a gift to yourself.

4. The gift of kind gestures

A small, kind gesture can make a world of difference. Help an elderly neighbor carry their groceries, tip your delivery driver well, give someone a compliment, donate a few dollars to a nonprofit or a “Go Fund Me.” When you wake up in the morning with the goal of practicing at least one or two acts of kindness, it makes your whole day better. You begin to think about opportunities to make positive change in the world, and THAT can improve your entire outlook on life.

5. The gift of gratitude

We often take the people in our lives for granted. Make an effort to say thank you for the little things, and genuinely mean it! Let others (your co-workers, your spouse, the cashier you regularly see at the grocery store) know that you appreciate their presence in your life.

When others go above and beyond, you may also want to send a handwritten thank you note to convey your gratitude. Let them know, specifically, why you appreciate them.

6. The gift of empathy

How might life improve if we all took the time to (at the very least) attempt to understand others? Even if you don’t quite understand another’s perspective, you can make a concerted effort to place yourself in their shoes, ask good questions, and try to empathize with their point of view. Before conversing with someone, do your best to set aside judgments and just listen. Even if you don’t end up agreeing, your efforts will open dialogues and create bridges.

Which gifts can you give others today? Pick a couple of items on this list, think about how you will incorporate them into your day, and start giving! Amazing things start to happen when we focus on being kind and understanding to others.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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How do you feel when you know something is a “sure thing?” When actions are familiar and easy—driving a car, making a familiar recipe, doing a daily task at work—you do them almost automatically. You know you’ll achieve what you’ve set out to do. These everyday, routine tasks can be thought of as wins—tiny victories that are a sure bet.

But what if we dared to believe that other, bigger actions were also wins? What if we assumed we will give a flawless presentation, sign on a new client, or solve a problem?

There’s a certain amount of swagger and confidence that accompanies this “I already won” mentality. If you’re certain, for instance, that you’re going to sign on a new client, your body language, tone, and the content of your speech changes. You convey that this action will happen. It’s inevitable.

Using the above example, you might start speaking to the potential new client using different language and terms. You might say, “When we start working together,” instead of “If we end up working together.” Or, you might say, “You’re going to love X, Y, and Z,” instead of, “If we work together, you’ll enjoy X, Y, and Z.”

Using stronger, more confident language is only one positive side effect of an “I already won” mentality. You’ll also find that your body language changes. You may become more relaxed and less anxious or tense. You won’t sound desperate to land the client or nervous that you said the wrong thing. When your body language relaxes, you’ll end up seeming more approachable and inviting—qualities people tend to appreciate.

When you’re confident that you will achieve a certain victory, you start moving beyond the stage where you worry and fret about the outcome and begin thinking about what you will do once you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. This way of thinking is productive and forward-looking.

And what happens if you DO fail?

It’s bound to happen at some point, but my best advice is this: Don’t dwell on it. It likely wasn’t your confidence or approachability that was the problem; it was something else. Maybe a potential client simply couldn’t afford your offering. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion because you needed to have a certain certificate. Whatever the case, it’s best to pick yourself up, re-strategize, and keep moving forward.

With confidence.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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In an era when it’s increasingly common to talk with others through a screen, people are becoming more and more nasty to each other. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of scrolling through social media before you encounter harsh words, name-calling, and general bullying.

Though messages of hope DO exist in social media feeds, it’s easy to be distracted or pulled down by the negative ones.

This online rudeness, unfortunately, seems to be bleeding over to the “real world” a bit. We see it in neighbors who light firecrackers until one in the morning, not bothering to think about those with PTSD or terrified pets or children. We find it in people who shout at or ignore those who have differing opinions, instead of engaging them in a thoughtful dialogue.

Much of this nastiness could be eliminated if we practice a little empathy and follow the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would like done unto themselves.

The Golden Rule is fine (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), but not everyone wants to be treated as YOU want to be treated. Different people have different needs, sensitivities, and enjoyments. People do not come in a one-size-fits-all package, and that’s what makes life so interesting and colorful.

The Platinum Rule also forces you to go deeper–to consider what it would be like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. It makes you shift perspectives, ask questions, and do some thoughtful reflection. It shows you truly care.

So, as you step forward into this sometimes difficult world, do your best to be kind. Choose your words and actions carefully, knowing that they could either help or harm another human. Your efforts can make a difference. They can create positive change.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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