Sunday, March 29, 2015

Two Kinds of People
 By Guest Writer, Doug Hanson

You may remember I have a simple philosophy that guides my thoughts and actions about people.

"There are really only two kinds of people.  Those that brighten the room when they walk in, and those that brighten it when they leave!"

It is a simple statement that illustrates a powerful principle.  People would prefer to be associated with and do business with people who brighten their life.  People that always have something good to say, that make us feel important and appreciated, and that have a positive outlook on life.  
 The next thing you may want to consider is "Which one are you"?  Do people describe you as someone that brightens the room when you walk in?  Or, do they have less than favorable feelings toward you.  The good news is that regardless of your answer, you can change starting right now.  Being a source of energy and enthusiasm will pay dividends in every aspect of your life, especially in your career, in your marriage, and with your family.

It is important to notice that this principle has nothing to do with knowledge or skill.  You could be the most experienced or knowledgeable person on your team and still be the one that stifles everyone's energy.  In fact, this is the trap that most people fall into.  They think their IQ (Intellectual Quotient) is more important than their EQ (Emotional Quotient).  Often times we evaluate our overall value by how much knowledge, skill, or experience we bring to the organization when in reality, your spirit is your real contribution.

A recent study in the Wall Street Journal stated that hiring professionals ranked interpersonal skills such as communication and the ability to work well with others, significantly higher in importance (over 20% higher) than cognitive attributes such as strategic thinking and specific knowledge.  Obviously, we have to be competent in our professions but the study reveals what most managers are thinking, "It is far easier to teach someone new skills than it is to improve their attitude or personality".

In other words, if you want to get ahead, you have to be liked and be likeable!  There are few professions where your personality isn't important.  I guess if I needed brain surgery I wouldn't care if my brain surgeon had a personality or a positive disposition.  Just fix my brain, man!  But even a brain surgeon has a brighter future if he can learn to brighten the room when he walks in.  You may not like it but the truth is, your people skills and personality are important.

As this point illustrates, if you don't master the skill of brightening the room when you walk in, you force yourself to be so highly skilled and qualified, that people hire you and work with you solely for your intellectual contribution, your IQ.  

Have you ever approached a depressed, withdrawn, bitter person and said, "Give me some secrets to a happy and successful life?"  Of course not, it would be ridiculous.  Yet that's what many of us expect our children to do.  We walk around unhappy, with a scowl on our face, criticizing everything from the government to our jobs to the traffic to and from work, and then wonder why our kids won't listen to us.  Why should we expect our kids to embrace our advice if we are living a life of misery?  It reminds me of quote I often repeat to myself when I'm with my kids, "What you do speaks so loudly I can't hear a word your saying". 

If you want your kids to respect you, to enjoy spending time with you, and to seek your council, the best way is to be someone that brightens the room when you walk in. 

The same holds true for your spouse.  Think about how much energy you put into courting and impressing your spouse when you first met.  Do you put that much energy or thought into that relationship today?  Would your spouse describe you as someone who brightens the home?  If not, take some steps today to change that.  You'll find your spouse spinning with curiosity, wondering what's going on.  In fact, I think your goal should be for your spouse to ask you by the end of the week, "What's gotten into you?"   

Have you ever considered all the ways we "categorize" people?  The minute we meet someone we ask questions about their profession, where they are from, or what church they attend.  We ask about their background, their lifestyle, where their kids go to school, and their position on local or national politics.  Such questions help us find areas we have in common and therefore serve as a basis for a stronger relationship.  This naturally occurs because in most cases, we are initially attracted to people that are like ourselves. Conversation is effortless if you have something in common.  Unfortunately, if our interests are guided by a negative bias towards life, our curiosity and search for information can also work against us.  As it turns out, the more you learn about someone, the more likely you will eventually find something that is different and uncomfortable.

This is where my simple "brighten the room" philosophy can benefit your life again.  I realized at one point in my life that I had somehow developed a bitter attitude about people in general.  If I met someone who had ten things in common with me and one characteristic that was different, I would only focus on the one and often move away from developing a relationship.  Ultimately, I would find something different about everyone, so I found myself with fewer and fewer relationships.  In other words, I didn't like anybody!  That's a terrible way to live life.

So I decided to live by the philosophy that there are only two kinds of people, those that brighten the room when they walk in and those that brighten it when they leave.  I no longer focused on their profession, or the religious persuasion, or their political views.  My philosophy became very simple.  If you brighten the room when you walk in, I want you in my life.  I am still amazed at how much this improved my quality of life.

Here are a few ideas for things you can do to brighten the room when you walk in.  Once you get some momentum, it will change your personal identity and your sub-conscious habits forever.
  • Put a smile on your face.  This one really freaks people out!
  • Have a kind word to say to everyone...   Yes everyone!
  • Give without remembering and receive without forgetting.
  • Develop an attitude of gratitude.  Be thankful for everything - your health, freedom, friendships, employment, skills, hobbies, finances, challenges, ... everything!
  • Wake your kids with upbeat or spiritual music that energizes them.
  • Set the CD player in your spouse's car to play a special song when he/she starts the car in the morning for work.  It could be a song you both remember from when you were dating, or it could be their current favorite song (they will probably be most impressed that you really know their current favorite song!).  Adding a personal note makes this gesture extra special.
  • Subscribe to an on-line "joke-of-the-day" service and share the good ones with your friends, family, and co-workers on a regular basis.
  • Every day tell your loved ones (kids, parents, spouse, etc.) what you are most proud of them about, or what you feel their best qualities are, or the positive things other people say about them in the community and how that benefits the entire family.

I hope these will get you started.  If you'll try some of these you'll soon realize that there are literally thousands of ways to brighten the room.  The key is in your personal effort and presence.   If you get a chance, please share with me some of the most effective ways you are brightening your world so I can share them in future writings.
Until we meet again, Play Full Out!  Your friend and Transformation Coach!

Doug Hanson (
Printed with Permission
© 2015 Doug Hanson

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