The 7 Habits of Humble People

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At Platinum Electricians, one of our core values is to always be humble. It’s not uncommon for our founder, Josh, to say something like, “Always be teachable. What can you learn from people below you?”

So, what does it mean to be humble at work? Here are the top 7 habits of humble people.

Build and maintain relationships

When it comes to building good relationships with colleagues and customers, studies have shown that humble people are often better at connecting. In fact, recent research found that organisations with humble people in leadership positions were more likely to have an engaged workforce with less turnover in staff. John Grout, Director of Platinum Electricians in Gippsland and Mulgrave, believes that being humble in business relationships is very important. He says, “I’m a big believer in that you get what you give, and I think being happy when other people are successful and always encouraging others to achieve their best is very important. People need to remember that putting others down does not necessarily mean that you’re raising yourself up.”

It doesn’t have to just be in leadership positions where humble people can thrive. Humble folks are often more willing to listen and learn from their colleagues and customers, instead of just waiting for their opportunity to talk. If you’ve ever had the feeling that the person you’re communicating with is really listening and actively engaged in what you’re saying, you know the effect that can have in bettering the relationship.

Humble people are better at accepting (and giving) feedback

Feedback is an important metric for determining how you are performing in the workplace, but for people with humility, feedback is about more than just KPIs. Humble people accept there is always more that they can learn from their colleagues, and that even if they are hitting every mark, there’s probably a way to do it better, or with more efficiency.

You know a humble person by the way they listen, but also by the way they implement feedback. Often, constructive criticism will be acknowledged, but the habit that causes the problem won’t change. Humble people readily take on the constructive criticism and look to alter their behaviours, methods and practices to better align with the values of their business. One of John’s favourite quotes is ‘true knowledge is conspicuous through silence.’ He says that “People that are truly smart don’t feel the need to brag and share everything they know. Being happy within yourself, being confident with your own knowledge and always listening to feedback from colleagues are key traits of a humble person.”

Humble people aren’t afraid to ask for help

At work, it’s important to distinguish the difference between a humble and a shy person. Where a shy person might seem humble, they also may have trouble asking for help. In these situations, confidence building might help.

For humble people, asking for help is never a problem. It’s not because they lack confidence in themselves, but rather because they have trust and confidence in their teammates. Humble people know that they don’t have all the answers. When a humble person asks you for help, it’s because they believe in your expertise. In exchange, helping them with their question can be a good way to show humility yourself, and help build the relationship at work. John believes that humble people are always truthful, and that “They’re not afraid to admit when they’ve made a mistake or when they’ve messed up.” He says that “Someone who isn’t humble may try to cover up mistakes that they’ve made rather than admitting to them and asking for help, which can, of course, be of detriment to the business.”

Humble people know their limits

Rewarding people for taking unnecessary risks is bad business, but there’s no need to be self deprecating to be humble. Mike Austin, Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University, thinks that humility isn’t about underestimating yourself, but knowing your capabilities and limits quite deeply:

“Many people think of humility as … thinking very little of yourself, and I don’t think that’s right… It’s more about a proper or accurate assessment. A big part of humility is knowing our own limits, our strengths and weaknesses, morally or otherwise.”

In the workplace, we might look at colleagues who take on more than they should as heroes. But working too long outside your limitations can lead to poor work product, burnout, and under delivery. Humble people are realistic about their capabilities, and always look to collaborate on project goals, rather than take on all the work (and glory) for themselves.

They’re conscientious in their work

Humble people are compassionate. They’re more generous with their resources and more likely to take the time to help others. But it’s not just for others that humble people show compassion. Most humble people know instinctively that altruism and generosity can be beneficial for your health and happiness, which in itself is a good reason to adopt humility and compassion as personal traits. John says that “Forgiveness is so important in any line of work. If you’re humble, you have a better understanding of who you are, and are more likely to seek out helping others and boosting them up.”

They have patience

Humble people know good things are worth the wait. They’re not turned off by the occasional setback and instead see these as opportunities to grow and learn. Just because you are goal orientated and have a positive future outlook doesn’t mean you’re not humble. Humble people enjoy the journey, not just the destination. However, when they do reach the goal, John says that humble people “always practice gratitude and are grateful for their achievements and the people around them who have helped make them possible.”

‘We’ is as important as ‘I’

If you want to become more humble in your outlook but aren’t sure where to start, consider how often you say (and think) ‘I’ instead of ‘we’. Often, the clearest sign of humility is the willingness to see problems, solutions and achievements through a lens of we-ness, and to understand that the workplace is much like a sporting team – you win, lose and draw together.

Take your first steps as a more humble, compassionate person. It’s a path of endless learning that will reap rewards in both your personal and professional life.