I refer to myself as a “crock-pot thinker.” Meaning, I observe things around me, combine them, and they cook — slowly — in my brain. When it’s done, I have a working theory about any given subject.
Today’s “crock pot” food for thought is about value.
Who assigns us value?
How do we become valuable?
Is it our behavior that makes us valuable? Our resources? Contacts? Knowledge?
Am I more valuable with a MBA?
Let’s talk about manipulation.
I came upon the article in Inc. via Twitter yesterday: “10 Ways Manipulators Use Emotional Intelligence for Evil (and How to Fight Back).” It got me thinking about a discussion last month at WordCamp Orange County.
Is manipulation bad in and of itself?
The context of this discussion — rather the word “manipulation,” introduced by me — was how to start a question with a stranger.
It was suggested that you walk up to someone and ask them a question. If the answer to their question rendered them outside of your target demographic, politely excuse yourself from the conversation.
In other words, if you don’t get the answer you want in the first minute, that person has no value to you.
Now, that’s totally fine for market research, but that’s not how you should treat people when “making new connections.”
But maybe that’s just me.
Is feeling valuable the same as being valuable?
In a previous career, past hires didn’t seem to fit in what we now call our “company culture.” So, this time would be different.
The boss-man invited my co-worker and I to sit in on the interview of the potential hire. So we needed to prepare questions, etc.
Did we stand a bit taller? Sure. Did we feel more valuable? Admittedly, we did.
[Insert suspense stinger here.]
During the interview, my co-worker and I asked perfect questions, made notes, were totally invested. After the interview, we were asked our thoughts, which we assembled and delivered.
When we asked who was next to be interviewed, the air was let out of our collective egos.
He had already made his decision. He just wanted us to feel valuable.
Here’s the thing: being made to feel valuable without actually being valuable is manipulation.
Does being asked for advice make you more valuable?
So, then I come to another situation. Asked for my advice and recommendations with the intent that because Person X asked my advice, I would feel valued.
With the previous line of logic laid out, making someone feel valuable in order to get access to their knowledge and resources does not make them valuable. Unless there is a job offer involved, this is manipulation.
This is where I drop “No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much” by Adrienne Graham.
In the way of a disclaimer, in addition to the article linked above, I’ve always been a teacher and encourager. I’m more than happy to help people. I’ve done it for decades.
But when someone comes to you over and over and over only to take — that, my friends, is manipulation.
Who assigns value?
And that brings me to the notion of influencers and who is able to assign you value?
If Influencer X quotes me, am I a better person?
This happened to me. Ted Rubin quoted and linked to me in his article about my phrase “be a people curator.” Of course, I was flattered. Of course I stood up taller. My mom even put the article on the fridge.
Cooler to make mom's (@Presence_Etsy ) fridge! pic.twitter.com/eZqD8vrzV1
— Bridget Willard (@YouTooCanBeGuru) July 30, 2014
Sharing ideas and being valued by our peers is an important part of the human experience. This cannot be understated.
And here’s the “but.”
Ted Rubin, fine man, does not decide if I’m valuable.
And every industry has their thought leaders, experts, and influencers. My point is how you use your influence dictates whether or not you are, in fact, manipulating, or people building.
Are you building a community or an entourage?
Value by Being not by Doing
We talk a lot about body image and beauty and what does and does not make you feel pretty, beautiful — essentially, valuable.
So, how do you build a donor-focused site? Great tips from Scott of Luminary Web Strategieshttps://givewp.com/nonprofits-build-donor-focused-website/
Value is the first step in being loved and accepted — you know, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, etc.
So, are you more beautiful if you go down to a size 14 instead of 18? Or does the size 12 think she should be an 8 and the size 6 thinks she should be a 2?
Are we more or less valuable with college degrees, luxury cars, 401k’s?
Being valued is the first step in feeling loved.
If I get a better job, will I be loved?
If I loose weight, will I be loved?
If she thinks I’m smart, am I in with the cool crowd?
What’s the answer?
In the marketplace, education, experience, and contacts are what make you valuable. But, is that how we should treat people in our personal relationships?
You can’t change how people treat others — not even you. You can only change how often you interact with them.
But we can learn. We can decide how we are going to value others. We can change how we treat the people that are most important to us.
You and I can love people, without expecting anything in return, watch them grow and mature. That experience isn’t invalidated if they didn’t appreciate us. That’s how we accept the past. But there is no point in reflecting on the past if we don’t use it to navigate our future.
What do you think?
What makes you feel valuable? Does the feeling need to be backed up with behavior?