Op Ed . . . Doing for Others

By Lindy Earl

Ah, it’s that time of year, it’s always that time of year, when we look to how we can think of others more, and ourselves less.  Life is simply better when you put others first.  So, here are some tried and true ideas that you can put into practice, at home and work, immediately.

First, listen to them.  Really listen to them!  Ask them about their day or their hobby.  Sit down and talk to them. Give them 100% of your attention.  Do not be cooking or cleaning or sorting mail.  Give all your attention to one person at a time. Don’t listen to respond, but just listen to hear them.  So many benefits can come from this first step – better communication, really opening up to one another which can lead to increased intimacy, better friendships. All good.

Second, empathize when you can, sympathize if you can’t empathize. This is a secondary step to the first one, of really listening. As you’re truly listening to others, see if you can relate to them on a personal level.  Now, you cannot make the conversation about yourself.  If, for example, they want to talk about their last job, you can show your understanding because you have been in the same position, but that’s all you have to say – you’ve been there.  But encourage them to go on.  Do NOT make it all about your experience.  Offer empathy and sympathy appropriately.  Or, if the story is amusing, laugh along!  Let them know that they are funny and a good story teller.  Truly emote your feelings.

Third, let others go first.  Encourage others to go first, whether physically or in a conversation.  Does it really matter if a car is ten feet ahead of you or you have to take the next elevator? It says a lot about you when you act like a lady or gentleman.  And your mama will be proud of you, wherever she is.

Next, try to perform some random acts of kindness.  Whether a spouse, roommate, colleague, client, or stranger, perform some random act of kindness at least once a day – from opening a door for someone to paying for their lunch.  Be creative.  Use your talents for this one. If you can bake, then bring homemade goodies to your next meeting, just to be kind. If you have fantastic handy man skills, then offer them to people who may need them, but not able to afford them. You don’t have to offer every weekend, but one or two days a year would be fabulous. You would truly be a good Samaritan.

Fourth, and one that costs you very little, pay a sincere compliment.  Make it personal and thoughtful.  Noticing physical attributes works, such as, “you have a lovely smile,” or, “you dress well. I like your style.” Compliments on good insights, or being brilliant, are always appreciated.  Complimenting their emotional attention works as well: “you are always so thoughtful and compassionate.”

Notice small details.  If others are always early, let them know you notice.  Whatever is often overlooked, but you know takes effort, make it a point to let them know you notice.

Sixth, be spontaneous.  Even if it means going out of your way, if something makes someone else’s life easier, go along with it. Be flexible and low maintenance.  Not only will you be doing for others, you could gain a wonderful reputation.

Another idea: offer before someone asks for help.  Of course you should help upon request, but go a step further and see the need, then offer to fill it, so the other person doesn’t have to ask.  Don’t allow them say no, either.  Yes, it can be tricky, because you do not want to overstep. At home it may be as simple as slipping into a bedroom and making a bed. If it goes unnoticed, that’s okay. You’ll know you did the right thing. At work, start a project, just to get the ball rolling. Or take on the projects that nobody ever wants.  Again, a great reputation will come with your actions.

Next, write it down – whether it’s a letter, an email, a sticky note, or a package, put down on paper something nice you want to say to someone.  Leaving a note for your child that simply says, “You rock” will mean more than you realize – until you hear it about it ten years from now. Then you’ll know how much it meant.  A note sent, even inner-office mail, means you took the time to think about someone.

Last, and please use this idea judiciously, buy a small, thoughtful gift for someone. Maybe you can leave a carnation on a windshield, get an extra treat from the machine, pick up something silly at the Dollar Store, just for the fun of sharing and making others smile.  It’s not a huge deal, and you may choose to remain anonymous. How fun!

Enjoy life in small ways, and as you for others you’ll find yourself feeling really great about your own life.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

*Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com to have her Speak or Consultant at your organization.

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http://www.lindyspeaks.com/Products.html for $8.00 (half off Amazon’s price).