I lost contact with my mom early Sunday afternoon. Eyes glued to the news broadcasts, over the next 30 hours, I hoped and prayed for the best. You can imagine how helpless I felt from my home in Michigan, as Hurricane Gustav zeroed in on my mom’s town in Southern Louisiana. Believe me, the pressure was intense, but I’m happy to report that mom weathered the storm like a military hero.
After it was over, my first priority was to thank the friend who took the time to show she cared. Interestingly enough, I shared my concern with 3 different friends by email that day. Even though all three responded right away, only one acknowledged my distress and took the time to offer support.
That made me wonder how I would have reacted if I knew that one of my friends was worried sick about her mom being in harms way. I like to believe that I would have offered a few words of comfort, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Most us are so absorbed in the pressures of our own lives that it’s far easier and faster to ignore the perils of our friends and colleagues. It’s not because we don’t care. But simply because we don’t make the time to think outside ourselves - about what other people are facing. We let our busyness distract us.
My point in sharing this with you is to show you how easy it is to miss opportunities to let other people know you care.
How about you? Think back over the last week, just for a moment, and ask yourself these questions:
- How many times did you find yourself in situations where you could have used a few words of encouragement, or even a hug?
- How many people recognized your need and made the time to reach out to you, just to show they care?
- How many times did you notice someone in need and reach out, just to show you care?
What do your answers tell you? Are you satisfied with the results? If not, what are you going to differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me or post a comment below.
As you can see, this was a wake-up-call for me. I want to be that person who takes the time to show she cares. And I’m sure it’s worth the investment of a few minutes each day.
Here’s what I’m doing if you’d like to join me:
1. Be Aware - For a few minutes every day, stop, look, and listen for things that may be touching the lives of people you know. Ask yourself, “Who might need a little encouragement today?” Here are some signals that might tip you off:
- News broadcasts (war, natural disasters etc.)
- You overhear other people offering words of encouragement
- You notice certain kinds of greeting cards on a desk
- Someone seems especially quiet, withdrawn or tired
- Someone comes out of a meeting looking like they've been through a war
- Someone has been absent from work
- You sense that someone is worried
2. Once you discover an opportunity, reach out, express how much you care - Some things you might express and/or do:
- Speak from your heart - Your heart says things like: “I’m so sorry…, I’ve been thinking of you…, You’ve been on my mind…, How can I help…, I can’t imagine what you’re feeling…, You’re in my thoughts and prayers”
- Ask about support needed instead of prying for details - Focus your questions on offering to support the well being of the people involved. Words like: “How can I help… What can I do…, What do you most need right now…”
- Resist the urge to talk about yourself or someone else you know - Taboo phrases like: “I know how you feel, My aunt Betty went through that, I can relate”.
- Avoid giving advice - If you catch yourself thinking anything like: “If I were you…, When that happened to me…” just zip it.
And finally, if possible, let your actions speak louder than your words. What you do, or don’t do, matters more than what you say. Remember, people don’t always remember what you say, but they always remember how you make them feel.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions! Let’s continue this discussion here.