“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~ Leo Buscaglia
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Are you the type of person who always sends emails, texts and messages, shares articles and resources and posts but have trouble getting the same amount of attention, dedication and quality time from others?
Or do you belong to the “ghosting” team and are always “busy” or finding excuses not to answer, like or acknowledge other peoples messages, blog posts, projects, emails?
I read an article today (referring to dating, but I find that it applies to all kinds of relationships in life as well) that mentioned how frustrating and even painful is for the person being ignored or neglected: imagine you got connected with this great person at a workshop, an event or just through life, you exchanged phone numbers (or emails) and then nothing happened: it becomes even worse when you already have a connection with someone and the person starts distancing from you for no apparent reason and without explanation. The first reaction is of concern: “is this person OK?” we ask ourselves, “Is she/he hurt or injured?” then we start navigating shadow waters: “Did I do something wrong?” “Did he/she lose interest in my projects, ideas or friendship?” and the last feeling may be disappointment, pain or even anger: “I don’t care anymore, what a coward!” or “If she/he doesn’t take the time to answer, why should I?” If you have had this happening in your life, you know the drill. It is a roller coaster and it is not a nice one! Feelings are hurt, trust is lost and what could have been a good relationship, or could have ended in a good project together, becomes a sort of “personal” issue…
I had more than a few of those cases in my life and they were not fun. At the end, I felt I had invested too much in someone or something that didn’t deserve my time, energy and dedication.
But I have also had amazing friends, family members and people working with me in different causes and projects whose dedication taught me to be patient and compassionate myself.
These were/are people who take the time to actually “read” your emails, posts, texts and whatever you are sharing with them or the world and not only that: they provide feedback, ask questions and collaborate for improvement. If they are truly busy, they at least acknowledge that you are there and will find the time not too far in the future.
What it takes?
I’ve found that it doesn’t take too much, and it shows integrity when you take the time to acknowledge others and their concerns. Even if you stopped (for whatever reason) liking someone, or if you perceived someone wanted more than you could offer them, or if what once got you excited about a project is no longer there…take the time (and the courage!) to face them and tell them where you stand: it is much more respectful (and prevents you to be seen as a coward) to bring some discomfort to someone by saying that you are no longer interested in them/their projects than just slowly disappearing or never showing up.
In the name of a more caring world, I invite my readers to take the challenge and make “People Care” a reality, a little step at a time, here are some ideas (to start the challenge, why don’t you “like” my post and post a comment with another idea yourself?, or share this post with others?):
- Acknowledge others with a smile. There is $$$ attached and studies show that makes you (and others) happier
- Listen carefully and avoid judgment. Don’t interrupt with your ideas, let the other person speak first and allow for pauses in between responses
- Look people in their eye, eyes are beautiful and show our souls. You may discover how much we actually have in common even with those you may disagree
- Say something nice (but honest) to someone everyday (not necessarily the same person). Take some time and you’ll see you’ll find someone beautiful in every human being you encounter
- Ask open and deep questions and allow others to reflect and answer
- Apologize when you make a mistake or hurt others
- Read the emails, texts and messages others send to you and take a few minutes to acknowledge them
- If you are no longer interested in a relationship, group or a project, say it. Don’t just go away into the clouds
- Touch and hug more: we have lost the ability to physically give each other some “oxytocin” by patting on other person’s back, hugging a friend, holding a hand or giving a massage
- If you are uncertain about other person’s intentions or expectations about you, ask respectfully and with compassion. Don’t make assumptions and most importantly, don’t act on them!
- When you read a good post/article, provide feedback, writers share because they want to be read!
- When you provide feedback, be specific and helpful. Honest feedback doesn’t have to hurt, good and helpful feedback doesn’t have to be “nice”, it just need to help the other to improve
- Consider stopping and talking/sharing with someone new each week or month: have you talked to a homeless person? To that neighbor you always see walking the dog and only smile at? To the cashier in the store you visit? To the bus driver who always carries you home?
- Consider writing a note, an email, a text to the people who provide stuff and services to you: the Canada Post worker, the owner of the coffee you frequent, the farmer from which you buy your veggies…
- Surprise people: send a note or post a message for no reason, invite someone, give a gift, say something nice…it doesn’t cost you anything, and I promise, it will make all of us happier!
- Don’t be a ghost, be a real human!