The great American humorist Will Rogers said, “As long as you live, you’ll never find a method so effective in getting through to another person as having that person feel important.” He was right. When you make people feel important, you get their cooperation.
Realize that Rogers was not talking about insincere flattery. He was referring to getting in the habit of recognizing how important people are. This should obviously apply to your children.
Here’s a famous story that illustrates the power of making someone feel important.
Cavett Robert, the founder of the National Speakers Association, looked out his window one morning and saw a skinny 12-year-old boy going door-to-door selling books. The boy was headed for his house. Robert turned to his wife and said, “Just watch me teach this kid a lesson about selling. After all these years of writing books about communication and lecturing all over the country, I might as well share some of my wisdom with him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I’ll get rid of him before he knows what’s happened. I’ve used this technique for years, and it works every time. Then I’ll go back and teach him how to deal with people like me.”
Mrs. Robert watched as the young boy knocked on the door. Mr. Robert opened the door and quickly explained that he was a very busy man. He had no interest in buying any books. “But,” he said, “I’ll give you one minute, and then I have to leave; I have a plane to catch.”
The young salesman was not daunted by Robert’s brush-off. He simply stared at the tall, gray-haired, distinguished-looking man, a man who he knew was fairly well known and quite wealthy. The boy said, “Sir, could you be the famous Cavett Robert?”
To which Mr. Robert replied, “Come on in, son.”
Mr. Robert bought several books from the youngster—books that he might never read. The boy had mastered the principle of making the other person feel important, and it worked. It’s an approach that even the rich and famous or the big and strong can rarely resist.
All people, and especially young ones, wear little invisible signs around their necks that say, “Help Me Feel Important!” The truly effective parents and teachers do exactly that. They read the signs and act on them.