Photo by JUCO
By Daniel Wong
“It is the quality of our relationships that most determines our legacy.”
– James M. Kouzes
A few years ago, I received a long personal email from a close friend. It was an especially hectic time for me, so I only got around to replying three weeks later.
I began my email: “I’m sorry for the delayed response. I didn’t have time—“ In a moment of painful clarity, I caught myself in the middle of a lie and stopped typing. Didn’t have time? That simply wasn’t true!
We always make time for the things that are important to us: eating, showering, Facebook, watching our favorite TV shows. If we don’t make time for something, it’s probably because that “something” isn’t actually as important to us as we profess.
If someone were to ask us what we value most, I’m sure that our relationships with our friends and family would come in close to the top of the list. But for most of us—myself included—the way we allocate our time doesn’t always reflect this.
At some level, we all know that the way we spend our time reveals our priorities, much more than merely what we say or think.
Maybe it’s true that we don’t always have the luxury of writing frequent, long personal emails, but we can all make a more conscious effort to show people that they matter and that they’re special.
I’ve come up with a list of 50 simple ways to make someone feel special. (To avoid writing “he or she” repeatedly, I’ll assume that the person is female.) Here they are:
- Make a note of the important events in her life and ask her how the events went.
- Give her a specific and genuine compliment.
- Praise her in front of other people.
- In a group setting, ask her to tell her favorite story.
- If she’s telling a story to a group and she gets cut off for some reason, be the first person to ask her to continue telling it.
- Ignore her tiredness. Nobody wants to be told that they have dark rings under their eyes or that they look like they just woke up.
- After meeting someone new, follow up the next day with an email or handwritten note.
- When you first call her on the phone, ask if it’s a good time for her to talk.
- If, while talking on the phone, you hear something going on in the background, ask her if she needs to attend to it.
- Don’t multi-task while you’re on the phone. She’ll be able to tell.
- Send her a link to an article that you think would interest her.
- Write her a thank-you note.
- Connect her with someone else you know who might be able to help her.
- Wait for a full second or two before replying to something she says. This shows that your response is a thoughtful one.
- Don’t play with your cell phone while you’re with her. At the very least, put your phone on the table with the screen facing down.
- If you’re working at your laptop when she comes to talk to you, close your laptop. If you can’t do that for some reason, at least make it clear that she has your undivided attention.
- Buy her a gift for no apparent reason.
- Write a blog post and dedicate it to her.
- When she’s explaining her problem to you, listen intently without offering any solutions or advice.
- Never tell her that she “shouldn’t feel that way.” This invalidates her feelings.
- Give her a big smile when you see her. Show her that her presence makes your day.
- Tell her “Good job!” when she does something well.
- Tell her you’re proud of her.
- Ask her to teach you something.
- Remember the names of the people close to her.
- Ask her for advice or for her opinion.
- Brag about her even when she isn’t there. Word will get around.
- Never say “I told you so.”
- When you’ve made a mistake, admit it immediately.
- When she asks you about your day, provide some details.
- Call if you’re going to be late to meet her.
- Don’t compare her with anyone else, especially not to her face.
- Ask about her family.
- Ask her how she feels about an event or situation.
- Tell her that you believe in her.
- Notice when she changes something about her physical appearance.
- Include her in a group conversation.
- If there’s an inside joke that she doesn’t understand, explain it to her.
- When she’s right about something, let her know.
- Don’t give her any advice unless she specifically asks for it.
- Ask her open-ended questions.
- Ask her about her dreams.
- Share your dreams with her.
- Share your fears and insecurities with her.
- Never say “I understand exactly how you feel.” You don’t.
- Don’t judge her dreams, ideas or opinions.
- When you introduce her, say something kind about her accomplishments and about your friendship.
- Tell her how she has made a difference in your life.
- Bring up a unique shared memory.
- Celebrate her successes.
People don’t just matter if they have something to offer us. They don’t just matter if we stand to benefit from the relationship. They don’t just matter if they’re “a good contact to have.”
They just do.
Life is all about relationships, so let’s make a conscious effort every day to make others feel special. After all, a strong relationship isn’t built in a day; it’s built day by day.
Question for you: What makes you feel special? What small things you like to do to make others feel special? Share your thoughts in the comment section of the blog. See you there!
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