I Just Want to Matter

In 2006 Reese Witherspoon won an academy award for playing June Carter Cash in the movie “Walk the Line.” She ended her acceptance speech by saying something I’ve never forgotten. She said when people would ask June Carter how she was doing, she’d say, “I’m just trying to matter.”

Reese Witherspoon went on to say, “She was like all of us. We just want to live a good life and do work that means something to somebody.”

This is a great reminder for people who supervise others. Everyone that works for them just wants to be seen, and wants to know that they and their job matter.

I ask people to do a Listening Activity in my leadership workshops. Part of this activity is people having to listen for two minutes to their partner without interrupting.

People’s response to being listened to is revealing:

  • “I was talking so fast because this was MY TIME to talk. It felt so great to know I wasn’t going to be interrupted. That I could just talk.”
  • “It was empowering to know I had the floor. That I wouldn’t be interrupted.”
  • “I felt important because someone was paying attention to me.”

This is for a 2 minute workshop activity!

Andy Rooney once said, “You’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.”

Think of the impact managers can have on relationships with their people if they give employees their attention and interest—if they listen more and talk less. The respect of being listened to changes how people feel about themselves and their jobs and how they contribute in the workplace.

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