Thoughtfulness shows consideration for others. Unfortunately, this goes against most of our natural tendencies. I had to ask myself, why do I find it difficult to reach out to someone in a positive way? The truth, thoughtfulness = vulnerability. It's safer to avoid making an effort than risk someone thinking I was too eager or worse, ignore me. Once I acknowledged that I could not control what people thought and that what mattered was that I was living authentically, I felt a new freedom. I am by no means an expert on the subject but here are five ways to be thoughtful in any relationship.
1. The Perfect Stranger: Offer Meaningful Compliments
A truly meaningful compliment is acknowledges something active, not something passive. It is common practice to compliment someone on their appearance. Although it is always nice to hear you look nice, it is far more significant to recognize something a person has put thought into. Instead of telling someone you love their shirt, tell them you love how they coordinated their outfit or how they have great style. This not only acknowledges that they look great, but also communicates that the individual inside the clothes is significant even though you know little about them. My challenge to you is to purposefully seek out a stranger and brighten their day with a meaningful compliment!
2. The Professional Acquaintance: Offer Unsolicited Support
I absolutely love the movement that encourages community over competition. There are plenty of fish in the sea and also plenty of customers. One of the best ways to be thoughtful in a professional environment is to help others make connections within your network. You know what they say, it's not what you know its who you know. This costs you NOTHING. If you notice an acquaintance has just started a business, reach out privately and offer a note of encouragement. Let them know you are here to offer support however you can. Extra points if you can connect them with someone who may be interested in their project/ product/ brand etc.
3. A New Friend: Don’t Be Flaky
If you like hanging out with the person, don’t be afraid to cultivate a new friendship. We all know the scene: you are at a dinner party with an extended group of people and you have a great conversation with a friend of a friend. You both exchange the typical, “Omgsh we have got to hang out sometime” but then every time you run into the other person you repeat the same line and then NEVER follow through! As I mentioned earlier, I think we are afraid of rejection and would rather not try than risk having someone tell us no. Here is the solution, follow up with a text or Facebook message and say “I really enjoyed our conversation and would love to hang out sometime, I’m available any afternoon next week would you like to grab a coffee?” This shows that you actually want to make plans instead of just exchanging niceties at a party. Hang out one time if you hit it off, then great! If not, you at least know that you made an intentional effort.
4. Your Besties: Celebrate anything from Just Because to Major Milestones
I have the best friends in the history of best friends but of my besties, I have one that lives within five minutes of me and the rest span the east coast. We talk or text often but it is important to find ways to invest in your friendship tangibly in ways that don’t require proximity.
One way to show you care is to remember the major milestones. I’m talking birthdays and anniversaries. Unless you have a superhuman memory, it is impossible to remember every date but thank goodness for a little thing that you always have with you called your iPhone! I have my friends’ birthdays and anniversaries saved as a recurring event with an event reminder set for a week before. The week before just drop a card in the mail and have it arrive in time. There is something so simple yet so wonderful about good old-fashioned snail mail that brightens your day more than any comment or Facebook post ever can. Side note: I keep a stash of greeting cards ranging from sympathy to birthday in my house at all times so I am prepared for when those event reminders pop up.
5. Your Significant Other/ Spouse: Set Aside Time to do something they enjoy
John and I are fairly independent people but both of our love languages are quality time. If you are asking what the heck is a love language, read more here. This being said, we have to intentionally set aside time to be together. This is not always easy when we both travel for work quite a bit and have different hobbies. We love to cook together and that is a time that we spend together uninterrupted and have a meaningful conversation. I am learning that one way to show him that I love him, is to set aside an afternoon to do something that he enjoys just because I want to be with him. John is a golfer. I am not a golfer. I kind of see it as a waste of time because my little type A brain doesn’t see any long-term gain out of trying to hit a ball into a tiny hole. That is beside the point, John loves it and I love John. I am intentionally making an effort to set aside time to go to the golf course and spend time with John even if it is only to ride in the golf cart and be present while he plays. I have actually even started taking lessons so I can learn to appreciate the game.
I hope this post encourages you to take a risk and love people actively. I also hope that you know even the smallest gesture can make someone feel important and loved. I would love to know how you impact people on a daily basis with your thoughtfulness, so feel free to comment below!
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