By Barb Ward

What does it really mean to put other people first? In today’s highly digital environment, this seemingly simple action has become increasingly difficult, and sadly, increasingly rare. Thinking of other’s first sometimes requires intentional thought and action. It requires you to be fully conscious and present and to show you have genuine interest in those around you. It’s not enough to ask the question, you have to listen deeply to the answer as well. You have to care and be engaged in the moment. These actions show others you are authentic and that you are truly listening to what they have to say. No wandering, no multitasking, no phones, no rehearsed rebuttal, no fake smiles, no interruptions, no sidebar conversations, and no judgment.

The ability to put others before yourself proves invaluable in your daily personal life by enabling you to build and maintain deep, personal relationships with others.

A people first mentality requires thinking about your co-workers, your customers, your family your friends and creating a culture that values them. You would be hard pressed to find organizational core values and/or value statements that did not include attributes demonstrating how an organization intends to value people whether it be through compassion, honesty, transparency, respect, and the list goes on. Fundamentally, putting people first creates tremendous opportunities.

When you put others first and show them you care, you create feelings of acceptance, belonging and satisfaction. If you are on the receiving end of someone who puts people first, you know it and you can feel it. There is respectful eye contact, an openness from their body language, warmth, a caring approach, lots of good questions, vulnerability, a magnetic presence, motivating and maybe even inspiring at times when things get difficult.

In a work environment, this translates to engaged employees. And, while you may think that keeping employees engaged is just a feel-good tactic, engaged employees have proven to be willing to go the extra mile, be more productive, and be absent less. This is important because every person in your organization is affected by employee engagement, either positively or negatively, and employee engagement directly impacts your bottom line.

And what’s more, when you put other people first, they pay it forward by taking care of your customers and communities, ultimately providing organizational sustainability, market presence, and environmental health.

Observe those around you. Who shows up with a presence that is respectful, open, warm, caring, curious, vulnerable, magnetic, motivating, and inspiring? These individuals are probably steeped in their core values and operate from a “people first” place. The foundation of people first is love; unconditional love for one another.