Be a Difference Maker

What can you do to make a difference for the people you encounter every day? Learn how a simple gesture, a kind word or a show of compassion can help others while helping you become a better person.

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“Please sign in,” the security guard tells me as I approach her desk. She sits behind a large, wooden circular desk in the main entrance of the lobby of an old state government building. Day in and day out it’s the same story for Amy. “I can’t let you in without a valid ID.” “Please be sure to sign out as you leave.” And her all-time favorite, “No, we do not have a public restroom.”

I come to this building regularly for consulting work. The first time I met Amy, I smiled politely and thanked her for pointing me in the right direction. Over the next several weeks, we made small talk or chatted with each other. I make it my mission to put a smile on her face at least once every time I visit. Make a difference.

Amy is straightforward and matter-of-fact. I wouldn’t say she’s thrilled with her job, but she does it to carry her to what she wants to do next. Amy wants a career in customer service, perhaps in a call center. “I like to help people,” she says. I hand her my business card and tell her I’d like to help her if I can. “Connect with me, and I’d be happy to introduce you to people in my network,” I tell her. Make a difference.

One morning, I see Amy outside in front of the building, which is not normal. As I get closer, I hear: “Please step to the other side of the street!” The fire alarm is going off, and it’s Amy’s job to secure the area. That means directing people to the other side of the street. Some people are polite, others treat Amy rudely. She’s only doing her job to keep people safe.

There’s no fire, and we all make our way into the building. Later that morning, after my meetings, I stop by the front desk. As I sign out, I thank Amy and tell her that I think she did a great job directing people to safety. She appreciates the gesture. Make a difference.

What can you do to make a difference for people you work with? What can you say to your customers to make a difference? It’s often the slightest acts that make the most significant difference. A thank you, a smile, or a touch on the shoulder.

Here are a few ideas to show you CARE.

1. Compassion – A little goes a long way. Put yourself in the other person’s place. What would you like to hear if you were them? What words, gestures, or actions would make a difference to you?

2. Act – This is probably the toughest part. How many times have you said to yourself, “If only there were something I could do to show my appreciation”? Plenty. So, next time, act. It could be something as simple as a short conversation, a thank you, or saying, “tell me more.”

3. Recognize – There’s a phrase in coaching and counseling circles – catch them being good. It’s meant to encourage good behavior. What better way to promote it than to recognize it and tell someone? Research shows that people produce more when you show them appreciation.

4. Engage – Get some break time from your screens – your phone, laptop, or tablet. Engage people more often than you are right now. Make it a point to engage one more person each day than you’re currently doing. Show them appreciation in some way. The more you engage, the more opportunities you have to show appreciation. The more you show appreciation, the more you can make a difference.

Look for opportunities to make a difference for someone else. You never know; you might make someone’s day.

© 2019, Roger Wolkoff. Reprint rights granted so long as all URLs are made live.

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