It’s Not About How Much You Know, It’s About How Much You Care
“It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts .” — Mother Teresa
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
The provenance of the quote above has been attributed to several notable people, but in all reality, who said it first doesn’t really matter. What matters is how relatable it is. At first glance, it’s one of those eye-roll statements that sounds like a cliché. On closer examination, though, you can see the truth in it.
If we were to be even more honest, we would point out that it’s how much you care about them that matters. This personalized twist to a common phrase helps put it into perspective.
Have you ever sat through a one-sided conversation? At some point during the conversation, you probably thought this person doesn’t give a hoot about me or what I think. You tried as best you could to break in and make yourself heard. But it didn’t matter what topic you raised they immediately brought up their story related to it, completely disinterested in listening to what you had to say or asking you questions about your experience. The entire conversation revolves around them because they are the center of their universe and nothing else matters.
When you think of the last conversation you had like this, can you also remember how you felt walking away? Likely that the only thing that person cared about was showing off how much they knew or how self-involved they are.
Think of an opposite situation, where you’ve had a fantastic conversation and walked away thinking wow, what a great person! It’s likely that your conversation was an intricate dance, it was give and it was take. You danced through a range of subjects and you had as much time to share your opinions and experiences as you did to listen to theirs. That’s when you walk away thinking that person cares.
Obviously, that’s different from seeking a specific person out to request advice or guidance, you’d expect that person to lead the conversation. It’s what you asked for and they’re showing they care by giving you their time and offering you the guidance you requested. That’s not what we’re talking about.
We don’t have a lot of time these days. Everyone is juggling work and home, just hoping to get through each day as it comes. However, we shortchange people when we don’t offer them an active ear to hear their problems. When you’re sitting across from someone in conversation or at the other end of a phone (or video chat), the other person deserves your full attention. If you’re distracted or disinterested, trying to multitask, the message you’re sending is that you don’t care. That might not be true, you might care, but you aren’t showing your compassion.
This brings it all back to the original statement. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
So, how can you show people how much you care about them?
That’s something for you to consider the next time you’re on a call, in a conversation, attending a meeting, or just chatting with your partner. Commit to active listening. Commit to asking questions. Commit to being curious enough about the people in your life that it highlights to them how much you care. Show you care by demonstrating your sincerity at every opportunity.
When you successfully manage to show people just how much you care, you’ll notice the shift in their reaction to know. They do care about what you know, they do value what you have to offer, they just needed a bit of give and take to warm up to you.
Now, that might sound selfish. It might sound like they aren’t showing they care about you because they don’t care about what you know, but don’t get too caught up in the minutiae.
If you think back to your standard conversations, do you spend most of the time talking about yourself? Do you focus on what’s important to you? Or do you know the importance of give and take?
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
While this is important advice for all humankind, it’s especially important for those who lead.
You’ve likely heard the phrase employees leave managers not companies. While this isn’t always accurate, there’s truth to it. A bad manager is enough to drive even the most dedicated employee out the door. If they work under a strong leader they respect, someone they believe cares about them and their input, then they’re more likely to stick around.
That’s why many of the top companies put so much effort into recognition programs. It isn’t just to reward employees and drive performance, it’s to show them you value their work.
The basic idea behind “it’s not how much you know, it’s about how much you care” works everywhere. However, we’ll use a workplace as an example to highlight just how showing you care can unfold.
In the workplace, middle managers can affect the greatest change because they’re the bridge between the employee and upper management. They’re the ones who can show they care, they’re the ones who impress upon employees the value they offer and the value that’s placed on them.
You could have an excellent tactical manager who drives results but rules by fear because they just don’t know how else to do it. They might put in the right numbers, but they have high labor turnover issues because they chase employees away. It won’t take long for all the quality employees to disappear and for those numbers to fall. A manager who can impress upon their employees how much they care, how much value they have, that’s the manager that will get through and build results.
A results-driven manager might sound like a corporate dream, but results-driven managers often don’t understand the value of compassion. A manager who understands that it isn’t about how much they know but about how much they care also gets results, they just go about it in an entirely different manner.
Shift into a sales situation. When you go shopping and deal with a salesperson, what frustrates you? It’s likely when you give them a rundown of exactly what you want and they automatically point out a product at a higher price-point which only ticks half of the boxes. They might know everything about it, but it’s clear they don’t care about you so you’re immediately turned off by their sales spiel.
If you then apply the same idea to your home life and think about the best way to potty train, split chores, or simply communicate with your partner you can see how much better compassion-driven efforts work.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you know. You could know everything there is to know about everything and you could still fall flat on your face. No one cares about what you know if they don’t recognize in you someone who cares about what they think or feel.
The reality is, in any situation, you can do both. Once people realize that you care, once people realize you can back up your words, they’re going to automatically be more interested in those words and what you know. It’s all about the buy-in.