“Hi, Grandma. I have a surprise for you!”I made a quick call to my 99-year-old grandmother to tell her we were on our way to visit. It was my mom’s turn to drive as we finished the last hour of our twelve-hour trip. My grandmother has short-term memory loss. But she’s one who’s taught me how to make people feel special. I wanted to do that for her. And here are at least three ways to make people feel special. These three ways can help us connect with the humanity of the other person. When we do, we feel special, ourselves.
Make People Feel Special By Your Smiles
My grandmother has a natural smile that makes others feel comfortable. My step-dad, Bob also had a natural smile that matched his dimples. They both showed friendliness on their faces. Both could smile at strangers, acquaintances, and even their least favorite family members. Their smiles were always genuine.
But some people are born with solemn looks. It takes an effort to have a pleasant smile. It may be their facial muscles or lack of practice. But they’re unaware of how others experience them.
Whether you’re a natural smiler or not, the power of a smile makes a difference. In the presence of a small group or one-on-one interaction, a warm and pleasant smile helps us connect. And it makes others feel special.Even in the most stressful situations, a smile can transform; both you and other people. #beyondmessyrelationships Click To Tweet
If you struggle (as many do) with social anxiety, your face may be showing up as unapproachable to others. Practice your smile in front of the mirror. When you learn to do it, you’ll invite confidence in yourself and connection with others.
Make People Feel Special by Saying Their Name
It took a while before I could feel comfortable with this one. I’ve been known to immediately forget someone’s name when first introduced. But now, I say it back to the person who introduces themselves. As you continue the conversation, repeat their name a few times. It helps make the association in your brain so you don’t forget.
If you’re sitting in a meeting, jot a quick diagram with boxes. You can make a seating chart in the same way school teachers do. Then write their names in the boxes as people introduce themselves.
Here’s another idea. When the cashier is checking out your groceries, notice their name tag. Use their name as you say, “thank you.” Normally, they look up when you say their name. And sometimes they smile.
Make People Feel Special by Listening
One of the most valuable gifts you can give another person is the gift of listening. Dr. David G. Benner, my Spiritual Director showed me the value of dialogue.
Dialogue is making the space between two people emotionally safe. It’s being curious rather than judgmental.
Most of us think we’re listening. But instead, we’re formatting a response in our head. Listening to build your argument, is not true listening. But listening to hear and understand is the only kind that makes people feel special.
Smile, Name, Listen
We arrived at my grandmother’s assisted living, and knocked on her door. She expected us because of my call from the previous hour. “Judy, I’m so glad to see you!” She said it with a big smile on her face, and a warm embrace to my mom and me. She listened. All three of us felt special and connected.
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