Are you a thoughtful person?
Most people consider thoughtfulness to be a positive attribute and would take it as a compliment to be considered thoughtful.
But do you deliberately pursue being thoughtful? Do you know what a thoughtful person is and how you can be more thoughtful in your daily life?
Thoughtfulness is about more than being nice. You can be nice without much reflection or consideration. Thoughtful people are those who pay attention to the people around them, reflect on the situation, and then choose to react and act in a purposeful and loving way. It takes a bit more consideration and time than just being nice.
One of a leader’s most important jobs is to take the time and effort to put their full focus on their team. They are considerate and determined to help them improve and succeed. This is why most leaders are thoughtful.
When a leader is thoughtful, they are positive and considerate of others—they take into account peoples’ thoughts and needs.
When I speak with leaders, I explain that thoughtfulness results in positive actions. An unthoughtful person likely wouldn’t notice if another person needed help.
If you need some help on how to be more of a thoughtful person, here are 6 tips.
How to Be a Thoughtful Person
1. Slow down.
To be a thoughtful person, you need to give yourself time and space to think. It is important to take a step back and take in your surroundings in order to really see what it is that the people around you need.
It is nearly impossible to be thoughtful when you’re going 100 mph with your hair on fire. Thoughtfulness requires space to think and reflect. A few extra moments to consider the situation and the person is all you need to get otherwise missed insights.
When you start to slow down, you will start to notice things. As you become more observant, thoughtfulness will come much easier.
2. Give the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t you give yourself the benefit of the doubt? I know I do.
While you and I always seem to have good reasons for what we do, we often ascribe negative motivations and intent to the actions of others.
When you have a choice, err on the side of the positive. A person may be facing a difficult situation which caused them to act the way they did. You never really know what is going on in a person’s mind, or what may be going on in their personal life.
Keep a positive mindset and give people the benefit of the doubt.
3. Dig deeper.
Going below the surface of most interactions is almost always a good idea. Thoughtfulness implies consideration. Asking a few questions is all it takes to uncover useful information and enrich the relationship. And it proves you aren’t jumping to conclusions. Others appreciate and feel valued when you consider them and what they are saying.
When you dig deeper and show a common interest in people, it shows them that you respect them and are genuinely interested. When you dig deeper you will also be able to find out what it is people need help with, what they’re struggling with, and how they can improve.
4. Express empathy.
Empathy means understanding how another feels even if you don’t feel that way.
You don’t have to agree with someone to understand them, and this understanding creates a bridge of connection. Lack of understanding can make the other feel like you are judging him or her. Empathy can help bring you closer to others and will also help you better understand what you can do to improve their situation.
5. Act accordingly.
What can you do to show how you feel? Simply listening is good. Acting on what you hear is far better. Consider: what might I do to support or help given the situation?
A thoughtful person listens and learns from what they listen to. They act on the things they learn so they can provide support in the right way.
6. Check back.
If someone says they’re struggling at work, don’t just express concern: check back later to see how they’re doing and if you can encourage them. This is extremely thoughtful. When you check back, people will grow an appreciation for you.
Circling back proves you heard what the person was saying and are concerned enough to follow up.
More intentionally thoughtful people in the world would make it a better place to live. Why not choose to be one of those people?
For 15 more tips on how to be a better leader, click here.
Mark Sanborn is a famous keynote leadership speaker. To learn more about how to be more thoughtful and how to grow as a leader, take a look at any of my wide collection of resources. You can also consider reading my Extraordinary Living Journal —buy one, get one free!
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This post was originally published on February 15, 2017, and has been updated for 2020.