Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Assuming you don’t see people as aliens or subhumans, you might be asking yourself, “What other way is there to see people besides people?”
Well, when you are focused, obsessed, and absorbed with your own interests and activities, it’s likely that you are only thinking of the people around you as far as they impact you. Perhaps you see them as competition, or as a roadblock, or perhaps an ally. Basically, you see them as objects and not as the complex, thoughtful beings they are. And that’s a problem.
The problem with seeing people as objects
According to Kimberly White, author of The Shift, when we see people as objects, we don’t really know what they’re capable of. In business, this lends itself to employees complaining, griping, and being unhappy with how they’re being treated. And in turn, we lose a great deal of time and productivity. Probably more than most leaders and managers realize.
Consider how much time you’ve spent in your life thinking or complaining about how annoying a person is. But when we trust and value people as individuals, we don’t devote the same kind of energy to talking about them. This gives us the freedom to spend our time doing something productive or something that will positively impact our business.
Employee retention and engagement are increasingly at the forefront of company priorities. Companies are spending massive amounts of time and energy trying to get their employees to feel more engaged, motivated, and committed so that they won’t leave. Ultimately, however, people will stay where they feel happy, valued, and know that their dreams, hopes, and perspectives matter. Which means they stay where they feel like they are seen as a person, not just an object. The same is true in your personal life. Your relationships will flourish when the people you interact with know that you care about them, not just about what they can do for you.
Listening and learning
The best way to start seeing people as people is by listening to them, getting to know them, and building a trusting relationship with them. Wondering where to start?
You have to be present. When you hide away in your office all day or make yourself unavailable for video calls, you can’t get to know anyone. People will likely stop reaching out if you consistently blow off calls, forget to return texts, or refuse invitations. Building and maintaining solid, caring relationships takes energy and effort.
When you know more about a person — their hopes, issues, fears, successes — it’s hard to see them as an object. And the best way to learn more is by asking questions (and paying attention!). Start simple!
- Where did you go to school?
- What do you do for work? Why do you like (or dislike) your job?
- What interests you?
- Who is the most important person / relationship in your life?
The power in seeing people as people
Just as a reminder, we are all flawed. We make mistakes, hurt others, feel insecure, and have anxieties. It’s part of what makes us a person! When you know this, and not only recognize it in yourself, but also in others, you begin to build a powerful mindset that people are people, not unfeeling objects intended to hurt or help you. When you care more, your perspectives on the people around you begin to evolve, and that can help you become the person, leader, partner, employee, friend you want to be!