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50 Simple Ways to Make Others Feel Special

Photo by JUCO
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:

  1. Make a note of the important events in her life and ask her how the events went.
  2. Give her a specific and genuine compliment.
  3. Praise her in front of other people.
  4. In a group setting, ask her to tell her favorite story.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. After meeting someone new, follow up the next day with an email or handwritten note.
  8. When you first call her on the phone, ask if it’s a good time for her to talk.
  9. If, while talking on the phone, you hear something going on in the background, ask her if she needs to attend to it.
  10. Don’t multi-task while you’re on the phone. She’ll be able to tell.
  11. Send her a link to an article that you think would interest her.
  12. Write her a thank-you note.
  13. Connect her with someone else you know who might be able to help her.
  14. Wait for a full second or two before replying to something she says. This shows that your response is a thoughtful one.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Buy her a gift for no apparent reason.
  18. Write a blog post and dedicate it to her.
  19. When she’s explaining her problem to you, listen intently without offering any solutions or advice.
  20. Never tell her that she “shouldn’t feel that way.” This invalidates her feelings.
  21. Give her a big smile when you see her. Show her that her presence makes your day.
  22. Tell her “Good job!” when she does something well.
  23. Tell her you’re proud of her.
  24. Ask her to teach you something.
  25. Remember the names of the people close to her.
  26. Ask her for advice or for her opinion.
  27. Brag about her even when she isn’t there. Word will get around.
  28. Never say “I told you so.”
  29. When you’ve made a mistake, admit it immediately.
  30. When she asks you about your day, provide some details.
  31. Call if you’re going to be late to meet her.
  32. Don’t compare her with anyone else, especially not to her face.
  33. Ask about her family.
  34. Ask her how she feels about an event or situation.
  35. Tell her that you believe in her.
  36. Notice when she changes something about her physical appearance.
  37. Include her in a group conversation.
  38. If there’s an inside joke that she doesn’t understand, explain it to her.
  39. When she’s right about something, let her know.
  40. Don’t give her any advice unless she specifically asks for it.
  41. Ask her open-ended questions.
  42. Ask her about her dreams.
  43. Share your dreams with her.
  44. Share your fears and insecurities with her.
  45. Never say “I understand exactly how you feel.” You don’t.
  46. Don’t judge her dreams, ideas or opinions.
  47. When you introduce her, say something kind about her accomplishments and about your friendship.
  48. Tell her how she has made a difference in your life.
  49. Bring up a unique shared memory.
  50. 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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Daniel Wong
About the author

Daniel Wong is passionate about helping people to maximize their education, career and life. He is the author of The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success and he currently works as a project engineer. You can read his blog at Living Large and find him on Twitter.

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35 thoughts on 50 Simple Ways to Make Others Feel Special

  1. Daniel,

    How we allocate our time definitely reflects our values. But not always in the same way.

    Putting something off may reflect that we don’t think it’s important. But it also could reflect that we think it is important and want to wait until we can focus on it fully. That’s something that happens with perfectionists a lot. They put off the things they care about most, not least.

    So it’s a little more complicated of an issue. But of course looking at how your use of time aligns with your values is an important issue.

  2. I’d written along a similar line on my blog, and think about this quite a bit – the text says it so well Daniel!

    I’m not sure I’d agree with all 50 things :-) but we’re all different and that’s the beauty of it!

    Definitely bothering to reply to emails – even if a brief note – is one big way to make me feel appreciated!

    Great post!

  3. Thank you, Finola. I appreciate your kind words!

  4. Loved the post. Realized that I already do some of them, but I miss out on a lot more. Gonna print it out and keep it in a handy place.

    Thank you :)

  5. Tasbiah

    Hi Daniel,

    This is a great piece about how we value human relationships. I also believe that the way treat other people in our lives and the level of value we attribute to them can be a reflection of how we value ourselves. I believe that if we truly value ourselves then we will manifest that in how we treat people and make them matter too.

  6. Dan: this is a powerful post! I had to write some notes down as I was reading, but people always ask me if I just woke up and many times it gets on my nerves. Also, most of the time I was already awake, but had not been to sleep in a while so that is why my eyes are low. I really could connect with point six.
    One thing that I cannot do is multi-task. When I am on the phone if at all possible, I stop everything else that I am doing because people can easily tell when I am multi-tasking.
    I really liked this post. Keep up the awesome job Dan!

    Best Wishes,
    William Veasley

  7. Hey Steven, those are some golden thoughts on what it could mean when you put something off! Thank you for sharing your insights.

  8. Alaeddin, I appreciate your comment! I hope you do find the list handy. :)

  9. Hey William, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Point #6 is a tough one for me too, because it seems so natural to make a comment if someone looks tired!

  10. Aloha Daniel,

    I loved your awareness about not having time. It is so easy to use that excuse and not set our priorities clearly. Your list is great – a real keeper …. and a wonderful reminder.

    Thanks for the great post,
    Susan

  11. Relationships ARE life.

    Your blog post hit the nail on the head! Doing small things for others does great things for you….

    Thanks for the great reminder…. I’m going to sms my husband right now!

  12. Great article. Lets me see that there is so much more than I could be doing for those that I love :-)

  13. These are good ways to make others feel special in a time of need, but I caution the dependency of others. If we constantly depend on others to make us feel special, what does that say about us? That we first seek the approval of others before approving of ourselves? That we expect others to solve/fix our problems? How does that help us grow?

    On the flip side, sometimes, you need to put things off so you can gather your thoughts about a situation a person’s facing. If you ‘jump in,’ you may not end up comforting the person. You may end up hurting them, unintentionally, of course.

    There’s nothing wrong with a quick ‘Thinking of You’ email or card. A text message with a smiley face at the end of it works too. But allow a person to figure things out for themselves; otherwise, they’ll forever depend on others to ‘fix’ their problems.

  14. Susan, thanks for your encouragement!

  15. Kirsten, I’m so glad that my post could remind you to send an SMS to your husband! :)

  16. Kelly, I appreciate your kind comment!

  17. Amandah, those are great thoughts that you shared. I completely agree with you that we shouldn’t be overly dependent on others, and even when we want to make others feel special, we need to know– within ourselves– that we are special ourselves.

  18. Sharon

    Hi Daniel
    I think the reasons we don’t do those things is because we don’t care enough to begin with. Sometimes we are afraid of caring, sometimes it is just plain ignorant, sometimes we just can’t because there is a limit how much we can care based on the relationship we are in. But I guess you highlighted some basic courtesy of being kind and considerate that most people tend to take for granted, especially for the married couples. We are experts at being present but not really there. Also just being aware of the other’s need for space and language of love speaks volume. This post reminded of my best friend and I and the sort of friendship we enjoyed at making each other feel special.

  19. I am going to try some of these on my wife. Thanks!

  20. Annie

    If someone admits to not knowing something that might be considered common knowledge in some circles, I just go with it. No one can know everything, and everyone deserves to be able to admit to that once in a while.

  21. Tasbiah, what great wisdom you shared! Thank you.

  22. Sharon, thank you for sharing. I agree with you that the whole caring thing is at the heart of it! It’s awesome to hear about the special friendship you have too. :)

  23. Keith, I hope your wife responds well and feels very special!

  24. Annie, that’s deep. Thanks for sharing!

  25. your points are great and helpful to some extent but human beings are very much different. your ideas may work perfectly for some people while it may not work for some others. and also think that your points will work better for ladies. I mean, if someone shows these kinds of attitudes to ladies, it will work better for them than guys in general. but seriously speaking, your ideas are very nice and I have learn some few stuffs here.

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