Humility is considered by many to be a weakness, especially in powerful positions or in situations where there is competition. That is wrong. Humility is a trait that is carried in spades by many of the strong, quiet, and resilient individuals that have been successful in life. Being humble is also part of everyday life. It allows us to be better coworkers, partners, parents, and friends to those that are important to us. Humility is a trait that can be developed with work, intention, and time by building up small habits.
Ask for Help
You may just be starting a new project or be on a whole new journey. Maybe you are years into something. Either way, sometimes we need help—help to understand a problem, overcome an obstacle, or simply get started. There is no shame in asking for help. Humble people ask for help all the time because they know that they do not have all the answers and that they can always learn something new. Asking for help also lets those in your life know that they are essential to you and that you trust and count on their advice and support.
2. Listen Actively
Listening to others, not just sitting idly by while they talk, but actively attending to what they are saying and waiting to speak is one of the humblest acts you can offer another person. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, it is respectful and allows the person you are dialoguing with to be heard and understood. Second, the person who is speaking will feel heard, understood, and that what they have to say is relevant and valuable to you. When speaking with someone, let them finish what they are saying and wait a moment before responding. Notice their tone and body language. That way, you’ll be able to respond from a place of knowledge and support when it’s your turn to speak.
3. Are Curious
Being a lifelong learner is a great trait to have in general. Continuing to be curious about the world and the people in it will ensure you never stop discovering new and exciting things. Those who practice humility know that they do not know it all, nor do they have all the answers. Being curious goes hand in hand with that admission. Learning about new concepts and people will also give you a better understanding of those with whom you work and live. Permit yourself to keep learning and growing so that you can continue to develop personally and professionally.
4. Say Thank You
Saying thank you is one of the most basic principles of humility and life there is, yet so many don’t do it. Start saying a simple thank you to your server at dinner, to the salesclerk that gets you another size, or a coworker who does something that helps you out even in the smallest way. Those two little words go a long way to show appreciation, respect, and acknowledgment of what that person did for you. You are never too busy or important to overlook a time to appreciate the assistance of others.
5. Take Responsibility
Sometimes we make mistakes. Other times we simply don’t do as well as we would have liked. It happens. That is life. When this happens, instead of blaming someone else or the restrictions you felt were placed on you, considering just admitting that you made that mistake or that you didn’t try hard enough. Admit that you are going to go back to the drawing board to create a new plan of action and overcome your previous problems. If you can learn to do this, you will come to learn that you are bigger than your mistakes and setbacks and that your humility and grace will allow you to keep growing and improving.
6. Accept Feedback
Sometimes constructive criticism can hurt. No one likes to know that their best effort wasn’t good enough. However, part of being humble is accepting that you are not perfect and that you always have room for improvement. Actively seeking feedback from those you trust and then working to make those improvements is part of being humble. Not only will you become better in what you are doing, but you will also be learning along the way and let others know they are appreciated for the contributions they bring to the table.
7. Are Situationally Aware
Being situationally aware is a term regularly used to refer to safety. Be mindful of your surroundings and pay attention to the people around you. Being situationally aware in terms of being humble is no different. You should take the time to be mindful of the people around you. Not just what they are saying but their inflection of their tone, their body language, and the dynamics between people. Taking the time to pay attention means that you are giving the people you are with your full attention, but that you are taking the time to learn about and better understand them.
8. Resolve Difficult Decisions
Making difficult decisions is well…difficult. However, those who practice humility have an easier time working through these problems as they are focusing on the needs and wants of others. When you take yourself out of the equation, sometimes the problem solves itself. Furthermore, humble individuals also do not always have to weigh the pros and cons of situations, but instead, consider their moral and ethical beliefs. Humble people may still have to make difficult decisions, but they can do so with more assurance that their end choice is the right decision.
9. Put Others First
Most everyone is worried about being forgotten, left by the wayside, not getting their piece of the pie. However, humble people know that their self-worth is not tied up in those moments. Instead, they prefer to put others in front of themselves, to show those individuals how much they are cared for and that they count. Humble people understand that when you raise someone else, you also raise yourself. This is especially true in ethical leadership. Leaders who put themselves second often have a more loyal team that will be willing to work hard for the good of the cause or company.
10. “You” Over “I”
Just as you should be an active listener and put others first, you should also speak of or brag on others before yourself. Instead of saying, “I successfully …,” consider saying using they, she, he, the team, or my team. Putting the success of others in front of your success will make those that put in hard work feel as if they are equally important to you and make them more apt to speak to your hard work and contributions as well.
11. Retain Relationships
Building and keeping relationships is something that is part of practicing humility, but it is also a side effect of being humble. Relationships take time, effort, and caring about other people—all things that being humble offer. Taking the time to engage with others and connect with them past what is on the surface will also give you a more comprehensive view of the world, where you work, and help you to learn from the experiences of others.
12. Speak Your Mind
How many times have you not spoken your mind or asked a question because you were afraid of saying the wrong thing or asking a “stupid” question? Humble individuals know that their worth is not tied to those comments or questions. They understand that with a little grace, everyone can recover from a misstep. Part of continuing to learn and grow is the willingness to try new things, to put yourself out there, and to ask questions. None of those can happen if you continue to hide, not speak your mind, and not ask the difficult questions, with humility and compassion.
13. Have an Abundance Mentality
We live in a world that lacks many things, but there are also many things that we have more than enough of. Being humble means knowing that there is always enough and that to get your piece of the pie, you might need to cooperate and communicate with others that you would generally view yourself as competing with. Never being too big to ask to work together or cheer on someone who does better than you may sting at first, but in the end, you will be glad you were humble.
Being humble isn’t always easy, especially if you are not naturally a humble person. The world we live in today promotes knowing the right answer, even when you don’t, looking out for number one, and not making mistakes. However, living that way is unproductive and will never allow you to live a peaceful existence in which you can continually grow as a person, leader, or world citizen. Working on habits that encourage more humility will begin to change your own life as well as impacting those around you in positive and uplifting ways.