Remember Valentine’s Day as young children? Everyone in class got a card….everyone! The goal was to be inclusive, to make everyone feel good. It was less about romance and more about friendship and kindness, about relationships with the people (kids) we spent every day with. Of course we had our favorites, but no one was left out.
The romantic relationship in each of our lives is important, but today, I’d like to focus on all the other ones. Male or female, young or old, personal or work, family or business, these friendships make a huge difference in our day-to-day experiences. They connect us, ground us, and make us feel like we matter.
What I’m wondering is this……just how expressive, appreciative, and grateful are you in these relationships? I’m not asking what positive thoughts you have about these people. I want to know if you share those thoughts with them…out loud.
Do you tell your friends what they mean to you? Or do you think “they just know?” Are you uncomfortable expressing your positive thoughts, or just wonder what to say, or if you should say them at all?
To some, this might qualify as a difficult conversation—one where you say the pleasant, nice things you think or feel about these individuals. In actuality, it’s not difficult at all. It might simply be a conversation you never got accustomed to having. Or maybe you wonder what words to say. It’s simple. Say what’s in your head.
With each passing year, I am more certain that sharing these positive thoughts make all the difference in the quality of our relationships of all types. Not just the romantic ones. I’m talking about partnerships. Friendships. Family connections. Social groups. Long-distance friends. Electronic friends. Business network connections. Neighbors. Our service providers. Our employees, and co-workers. They ALL matter. Each connection enriches our lives in some way. Some very greatly.
What if you started telling these people the good thoughts that come to mind and the good feelings you have about them?
Let’s talk about some of the things we could (and maybe should) say more often to those around us:
Express Gratitude – Most of us automatically and frequently say “thank you” during the course of each day. Take it further, consider saying more. Elaborate. Give. Say, “Thanks that was really kind of you” or “I so appreciate all of your extra efforts for me,” or “Thanks, you are always so helpful.”
Share Compliments – Seems most of us think compliments far more often than we speak them. What is that about? Why not just verbalize those thoughts?” Every day we should share the complimentary thoughts we currently keep locked up in our minds.
Don’t just think, “Wow, you look great today.” Say it. Tell your UPS guy, “You’re always so friendly. Thanks.” Say the nice thoughts that come to you. There’s no cost, but the payback to such honesty is priceless. Everyone is uplifted by a compliment–the giver and the receiver. Whether it’s your gardener, your dry cleaning lady, your mailman, your neighbors, or your employees, share your positive thoughts.
Show Your Respect – Many of our daily interactions are with other professionals. Imagine these professionals respect you and your output, but never tell you. Doesn’t feel right, does it? Why not “go first?” Open up communication. Express your respect for the great job your doctor’s office does. Tell your employee you find him to be the ultimate on follow-through and detail. Share with your hairdresser how much you love her timeliness. Tell your colleague how their feedback helps you in your job. Whatever nice thing crosses your mind, don’t hold it hostage. Don’t keep it. Give it away. It will come back to you.
Offer Support – At one time or another, each of us struggles with a personal or professional challenge. And more often than not, we attempt to minimize that struggle and “suck it up.” In the midst of those difficult times, a few words of encouragement are invaluable. Whether it’s a co-worker, a business colleague, or a friend, reach out with even a few simple words of support. Tell them you understand. Offer your help, if appropriate. Provide an ear to listen, or if it makes sense, share your similar experience so they know they aren’t alone. A few words of support go a long way in strengthening your connection.
Honest, authentic communication is a great habit, a useful tool, and a wonderful way to live your life. Why not spread the love around a little wider this Valentine’s Day (and every day)? Start sharing all the wonderful, grateful, kind, supportive thoughts you often think of others in your life. It will enrich not only the lives of those around you, but yours as well. It’s hard to say who will benefit more.