Work days are often so hectic that we can get lost in the “sameness” of everything and everyone. Even things and people that we like and enjoy become routine. Behaviors are expected and even good ones get lost in the predictability of patterns we have come to rely on. Then when someone does something to stand out from the crowd, it jolts us out of our creature comforts and pushes us into a pleasant and memorable sensation that lingers.
Grace has a gorgeous fur color, it’s a rich auburnish tone that I’ve always loved. Put her in the middle of a pile of fallen oak leaves though, and you’d be hard pressed to see her beautiful hair. She blends right in, despite the gorgeous coat she naturally wears. Every fall season, when she dons her blaze-orange safety vest, I am always surprised at how much she stands out. That simple change creates such a difference in the way I see her.
It’s not just the clothes we wear that help us stand out from the crowd (though clearly that is an obvious way we make an impression). I’m talking about doing something memorable, something that provides the ‘wow’ factor from others. It doesn’t have to be arduous, it can be as simple as Grace’s brightly colored coat. For example, when we offer the smallest of gesture to another, it packs an enormous punch.
As I talk with managers and employees about issues and successes in their organization’s culture, there are some themes that surface. Some come in the form of complaints (why doesn’t that person ever get back to me??) and others come as high praise for work well done.
Here are a few examples of ways that workers stand out from the crowd:
- Return an email message. Being responsive does matter! It’s one of the most common complaints I hear among employees; a lack of response signals a lack of respect, even though that probably wasn’t the intention. Make sure to communicate timely and fully.
- Offer to help someone who is overwhelmed, even if it’s not your job. You don’t have to assume responsibility for the entire project, step in to take a small portion. Trust me, your thoughtfulness will not be forgotten. And it’s likely the favor will be returned when you need it!
- Be a good listener. Every one of us wants to be heard. Taking the time to hear what a colleague is saying, even when you don’t think you can spare the time, yields big benefits. If you truly listen to another, you can discern underlying issues, which gives you a leg up to help solve them.
- Do more than what was expected of you. It can even be a small step, but taking any initiative goes a long way in making you stand out from the crowd. People notice it and appreciate it, but that’s not the reason to do it. You will benefit from learning something new or having the satisfaction of reaching past your comfort zone.
Grace looks good whether she’s in her colorful coat or not. And so do you. But in what ways make you stand out from the crowd? What might you do today so that you are memorable to others?