6 Simple Actions to Show Others You Care Being thoughtful in the midst of our busy lives can make a big impact on the happiness of others—and ourselves. BY MARLA TOMAZIN
To show that you care doesn't require a grand gesture, often it's the little things that mean more.
“ Smiles can lift the moods of strangers and friends alike, whether you’re engaged in conversation or not.”
Have you ever heard someone comment that thoughtfulness seems to be going the way of the dinosaur? Perhaps you’ve had the same thought yourself from time to time. We’ve all experienced an every-man-for-himself attitude at work, given gifts that weren’t acknowledged, walked down streets that seemed full of bad attitudes.
I think that as a society, we might be becoming less considerate to others than we were in the past. However, let me be clear: The problem isn’t that we don’t care or that we’re trying to be rude. We’re simply busier, more stressed, and more overwhelmed than ever before!
As we navigate our hectic everyday lives to the best of our ability, going out of our way to make others feel good simply doesn’t cross our minds. We’re so focused on checking all the boxes on our growing to-do lists that we don’t have extra mental bandwidth to devote to anyone else. Believe me, I get it!
I have some good news. Acknowledging others in a positive way doesn’t have to require very much of your time and energy. Taking one or two minutes to engage with someone else won’t set you back very far on your to-do list, but it can completely change the tone of that person’s day—and improve your own mood, too!
Here, I share six simple ways to engage in targeted acts of thoughtfulness:
1. Acknowledge good news that you hear. When you read about someone you know winning an award, publishing a book or article, or hear news of a birth or a promotion, take the time to send a note of congratulations, or mention it the next time you see that person.
Good news is all around us. Unfortunately, we mostly tend to talk about bad news instead. It is much more gratifying to talk about and share good news than to share unhappy news or gossip. If you’re going to engage with someone, make it a positive interaction!
2. Smile. The next time you’re out in public, notice the demeanor of other people. How many of them look happy? How many of them smile at you in greeting? Chances are, you’ll find that most go about their business with single-minded purpose, avoiding eye contact and connection with others. Their faces look closed-off and serious—some may even be scowling!
That’s why a simple smile can be so meaningful. Smiles can lift the moods of strangers and friends alike, whether you’re engaged in conversation or not. Try to make it a habit to smile at everyone you encounter: your boss, the cashier, the people you pass on the street. Trust me, you will make a positive impression. You’ll start to feel better too because genuine smiles open your heart and cause your body to release mood-boosting endorphins!
3. Ask, "How are you doing?" …and mean it. We all have challenges. We’re all dealing with various issues in our lives that most other people have no idea exist. That’s why I remind you to sincerely ask others how they’re doing and what’s happening in their lives.
If someone doesn’t want to share the details of his or her life with you, it’s easy for that person to say, "I’m fine" and leave it at that. But many times, the other person will be grateful for a sympathetic ear and perhaps some advice. Devoting a few minutes of your time solely to someone else can make a huge difference in letting that person know he or she is not alone and that others care.
4. Remember birthdays. In the age of smartphones, electronic calendars, and automated alerts, it has never been easier to remember the upcoming birthday of a friend, loved one, or colleague. And even though many of us downplay the significance of this occasion, deep down, it feels nice when someone else acknowledges us on our special day.
I have always enjoyed wishing people in my life a happy birthday. To me, birthdays are a very important day of the year to celebrate, no matter how many candles are on the cake. Sometimes I call the person. Sometimes I mail a card with a personal note, or do both. These actions take only a few minutes to accomplish and they make a wonderful impression—they make me feel great, too!
5. Pass compliments along. Picture this: You’re talking to a friend, and she mentions how much she loves your mutual hairstylist. The next time you have an appointment, don’t just describe the cut and color you’d like; make a point to let the stylist know how much your friend appreciates her.
When I hear something nice about someone, I love to pass the compliment along. Recently, I worked with a client who has cancer and is going through chemo. She went to get a new outfit and was very cheerful, upbeat, and inspiring to the designer, salesperson, and me. She was very touched when I called to see how she was feeling before a big family event to which she was wearing one of her new outfits. She thanked me for my inquiry and mentioned how nice the designer and salesperson had been to her. I couldn’t wait to pass along the compliment. The salesperson and designer were thrilled to hear that our client was doing well and were so grateful that I’d passed along her kind words.
6. Send handwritten "Thank You" notes. We’ve all heard this suggestion before—and for good reason. Handwritten notes are so much more meaningful than texts or e-mails. They’re a tangible reminder to the recipient that you are grateful.
It’s so nice to receive and open a "Thank You" card. I love knowing that someone else truly appreciated the present, dinner, or weekend visiting our home. Remember, handwritten "Thank You" notes don’t have to be literary masterpieces. A few sentences that take less than five minutes to write can make someone’s day!
Marla Tomazin, Certified Image Consultant, established her image consulting business in 1990 with the goal of helping clients identify an authentic image and develop its effective expression. From a successful career in the fashion industry, Marla gained expertise in retail buying, merchandising, sales, and marketing. Marla utilizes her abilities in evaluating body shape, movement, and coloring as well as synthesizing optimal cuts, lines, colors, and textures. This results in balance and proportion that accentuate attributes and conceal flaws. Her clients include women, men, and corporations seeking external revitalization that mirrors their internal development. For more information, please visit www.marlatomazin.com.