How to Make People Feel Valued

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Just Listen" by Mark Goulston. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is it important to make people valued? How can you show someone that they matter to you?

We all want to be seen, heard, and most importantly, valued. Experts say that making others feel valuable isn’t just good for the person you’re valuing, it’s good for yourself because it makes you feel more connected, trustworthy, and happy.

Below, you’ll learn how to make people feel valued, according to Mark Goulston.

Make Others Feel Valued

In his book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, psychiatrist Mark Goulston explains how to make people feel valued. When people feel appreciated, explains Goulston, they’re more willing to enthusiastically support you. This fills people with a sense of purpose, which is one of the most generous things you can do for someone. As a result, they’ll be willing to support you however they can.

One way you can show someone that you value them is by delivering meaningful thank-yous. By displaying thoughtful gratitude, you acknowledge the level of emotion and effort that someone invested in you. This will strengthen your relationship with the person you’re thanking and motivate them to support you in the future. Goulston says that to deliver a meaningful thank you, highlight a specific thing they did for you, acknowledge the effort or difficulty they faced, and explain the positive difference their action made.

(Shortform note: Another way to show your gratitude for someone is by offering them more of your time. Because time seems so scarce during our busy lives, we appreciate when someone takes a moment to spend time with us. Thank someone by creating a window in your day to check in on the person you’re grateful for or write them a handwritten thank-you note (which takes far longer to create and deliver than an email does.)

It’s one thing to show gratitude to those who help you, but Goulston says it’s even more crucial to make the troublesome people in your life feel valuable. If someone in your life often starts conflicts or bothers you for attention, Goulston says making them feel valuable will help persuade them to change their behavior in a positive way. He explains that people who use troublesome behaviors to seek attention tend to do so because they don’t feel valued. Therefore, if you satisfy this need, you’ll remove the need for their attention-seeking behavior, you’ll make them feel appreciative toward you, and they’ll be willing to support you.

(Shortform note: By making someone feel valuable, you can spur a spiral of self-improvement. In Leadership Strategy and Tactics, Jocko Willink argues that designating responsibility to someone empowers them to become more accountable for their actions and committed to plans. This is because when we have ownership over a plan, we’re more likely to solve problems that occur with it, whereas if something goes awry with someone else’s plan, we’re more likely to blame them for it.)

How to Make People Feel Valued

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Here's what you'll find in our full Just Listen summary:

  • Why listening is the most important step in influencing others
  • How to overcome the most common obstacles to listening well
  • How to break down someone’s emotional barrier

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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