Years ago I was rushing into work, coffee cup in hand and a million things on my mind. I breezed past a co-worker who wished me a good morning. Lost in my thoughts and too pre-occupied with my world, I failed to acknowledge her or, to be honest, to even take notice of her.
Hours later, we were sitting in the break room eating lunch when I was struck by how truly talented I thought this person was. Totally out of character for me, at the time, I blurted out a compliment: “I think you’re one of the best hairdressers I’ve ever worked with. You are truly exceptional.” I was taken aback when her eyes filled with tears and she said to me, “I didn’t even think you liked me.”
Did I hurt her feelings? It seems my curt responses, lack of attention and general self-absorption had given her the impression that she didn’t matter. Or worse, that I actively disliked her. Ouch! I learned that day the importance of being in the present, the power of looking someone in the eye, hearing what they are trying to say and paying a compliment.
From that event, I have taken away three lessons that I try to apply to my own situation -- three ways that I can live a more intentional life.
1. Look for the truth of the situation. My friend had bought into a lie -- the lie that said because I didn’t give her my attention I must not like her. That was her truth. Now this is no excuse for bad behavior. But let’s be honest, there are plenty of reasons why someone might not respond to you -- maybe it’s a problem they’re preoccupied with, maybe they just got some devastating news or maybe it’s as simple as a lack of hearing. The take-away here...don’t interpret others’ intentions until you’ve given them a chance to voice them for themselves.
2. A compliment goes a long way. Today I try to live with purpose. When I think something kind of someone, I don’t let it go unsaid. I pay the compliment, I look for ways to encourage and I try to be in the moment.
3. The simple act of giving someone your attention tells them that they matter to you. I make a conscious effort now to notice my surroundings and to take note of others.
Today, decide you’ll tell three people what good you see in them. Make sure your compliments are sincere and thoughtful. I have no doubt, the results will not only be a blessing to those three people; they will also enrich your life as well. Take it from me.