I recently got on the elevator in my building with a young family – a mom and her two kids.  The oldest – around 4 years old – met me with a big smile and an introduction to his little sister.  By the way, that smile made my day.

I asked him his name and he told me he was “Nobody”.  (Oh – believe me – he is so much more than that!)  So, I responded that I’m Anybody.  And his mom said she was Everybody and his sister was Somebody.   I’m now completely in love with this family!  I see them every now and again and have the most delightful conversations with Nobody.

The wisdom of children and the gifts they bring!  That conversation reminded me of a story you may have heard before.  It goes like this.

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Sound familiar?

Most dysfunction is the result of poor communication. Healthy organizations thrive on honest communication, openness to ideas, and responsibility for carrying through on promises made. This means we own our stuff.  We follow through with energy and a collaborative intent.   We build trust.

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So….how does this translate to our every-day? Ever read Stephen Covey’s ideas about your “Emotional Trust Bank”?  We can make deposits into that bank and reduce the impact of withdrawals when we make a mistake.  He outlines six ways to make those deposits.

1)   Understand the Individual. Actively listen to what the other person is saying. Put yourself in their shoes. Show you care.  Be kind.

2)   Keep Commitments. Do what you say you will do.   Build your personal, emotional reserve by being trust-worthy.

3)   Clarify Expectations. Let’s be realistic.  We’re not mind readers.  Communicating expectations creates a higher level of trust. There is clarity when we know how others our depending upon us.

4)   Attend to the Little Things. I call the little things “milk money”…that extra change we carry in our pocket for emergencies.  The LITTLE THINGS are those things that tend to become BIG THINGS when they don’t receive our attention.  Doing those little things says “I respect you”.

5)   Show Personal Integrity. Integrity is the moral ground of trusting relationships. Living our moral character breeds trust.

6)   Apologize When We Make a Withdrawal. Making mistakes is a natural part of life. Without them we wouldn’t learn.  But they can have consequences.  They can test trust. Sincerely apologizing is a deposit in the Trust Bank.  It can cancel out the damage we may have caused. 

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So as you travel through the next decade, be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.