Greatness Architects: Using the Spotlight July 2009
Patrick came into our lives about a month ago and we’ve already learned quite a bit from him. After initially bursting into our store and exclaiming “this place is amazing,” he now visits frequently and continues to compliment us on what we’ve built. At 82, you’d think he would be slowing down, but he’s full of energy. More importantly, he has a skill of “spotlighting” people so they know how good they are and take it to heart. Walking to the bank, he greets passersby heartily, often stopping to compliment them on something he notices. Spotlighting is one technique that Greatness Architects use to bring out greatness in others.
The challenge is that spotlighting is a skill we all enjoy receiving, but few enjoy employing. As early as 1983 Charles Derber studied the American desire for attention. His book, The Pursuit of Attention, identified various ways we seek attention and want to have the spotlight directed on us. One strategy we use when communicating with others, highlights our desire to be in the limelight. Called the “shift response,” this refers to what happens when someone shares something personal and we shift the focus back to us by briefly acknowledging what has been said but adding experiences of our own and emphasizing our stories. We’ve realized over the past year in our travels around the world that this is no longer just an American phenomena. It seems the desire to be in the spotlight now transcends geographic boundaries and is quickly becoming a world-wide epidemic.
Yet, the skill of spotlighting allows others to learn from their successes, revel in their triumphs and reinforce the behavior by talking about it. Greatness Architects begin spotlighting by entering every encounter with curiosity rather than certainty. When we’re curious about someone or something, we place the spotlight on them as we allow them to educate us.
The challenge is, of course, not shifting the attention back to self but reinforcing what you’ve heard. Letting the other person know what you’ve learned gives him or her the opportunity to correct any misconceptions you may have and reinforces for them the positive behaviors they’ve shared with you.
Greatness Architects also teach others how to spotlight because it has positive effects on those who use this skill. What happens when the focus is shifted away us and on to another individual? Initially it reduces negative behaviors that often stem from narcissism – such as hostility – by promoting connections and commonalities among people. Research by Campbell, Konrath and Bushman, published in Psychological Science found that alerting those high in narcissism of their similarities with others reduces aggression. These findings are in alignment with studies by Daniel Batson showing how promoting connections among people increases empathy and leads to more helping behavior.
Patrick is doing the right thing. Spotlighting others allows them to develop their skills and expertise more quickly by reinforcing what they are doing well. Teaching others to spotlight helps all of us become aware of interconnectedness and fosters more helping behavior. And all it takes is a little practice and shining the light on someone else for a while.
The Greatness ProjectTM is researched and written by:
Scott Asalone & Jan Sparrow
Copyright © ASGMC, Inc. 2009