I got a really cool piece of mail today; like someone actually took the time to write me a card to say thank you, put a stamp on it and drop it in a mailbox.
It made my day to read it because their act of gratitude stemmed from something that I didn’t necessarily consider a big deal until I got their note. The fact that it came as an actual card and not an email or a Facebook message or a series of 140-character DMs or a text made it special, meaningful and I think that was the point – to convey that what I have been doing really registered and was appreciated.
I don’t write this as a means of patting myself on the back; I’m still only alright as far as the grand scheme of things are concerned. I’m not saying that to be fake humble either; I can be a fuck-up at times and still don’t make enough of an effort to connect with people, but I’m working on it and trying to make better choices.
I put this out there as a reminder that you can’t always know the impact you’re having and that acts you consider small or automatic or just something nice to do for a friend or a colleague or anyone can mean something so much more for the people on the receiving end.
Compliment people – on their work, their attitude, the things the do, whatever. Compliment people you know and complete strangers. Give the jogger you pass in the morning a high five just because. Tell people you appreciate what they’re doing even if it doesn’t have anything to do with you directly. Be nice. Be courteous. Hold the goddamn door open for other people and offer your assistance whenever the opportunity arises.
Interact with one another – the people you know and the people you don’t, including the friends of friends that show up in your timeline or that jump into your Twitter conversations. Is it really that hard to have a conversation with someone, in person or over the Internet, for a couple minutes about a subject you’re both interested in? Don’t just engage the cool kids either; that’s a dick move and you shouldn’t be a dick.
If you’re one of the cool kids, expand your circle and remember that there was a time when you weren’t one of the cool kids so stop being a dick and respond to people when they engage you. All of them. Message me and I’ll message you back; you have my word. I’m uncool like that.
Don’t do things just because they might have some benefit for you down the line. Random acts of kindness are so much better.
Network like crazy, but don’t be afraid to expand your circle beyond the handful of people you think can help you get ahead in some way, shape or form. That dude that sent you a request on LinkedIn might be trying to give you a kick-ass job and that girl who reached out for advice on Facebook might turn out to be the next big thing in her field of choice; do you really want to be the dick that didn’t get back to her when she was just starting out?
Again – how hard is it to offer some kind words and a little advice?
Because here’s the thing:
You may think you’re just clicking “Like” or hitting the “retweet” icon and passing something along to the people in your timeline or showing a little support to someone you know, but they might really need that encouragement and support. Whether they’re wrestling with a problem or just voicing their thoughts, it might be reassuring to read a quick comment that tells them how you feel.
You may think there is nothing to it – a quick “this was really good” on a story someone wrote or a reminiscence about a shared experience sparked by a picture or a song or a video – but it might mean the world to the other person.
Be good to one another.
Take a couple minutes every day to actually pay attention to the world around you, not just the screen in front of your face, says the guy sitting at his computer… again.
Say hello to your neighbours, give your loved ones a hug and tell them how much they mean to you and show your support to the people in your life.
Do this kind of stuff and you too might get a kick-ass note in the mail from a good friend who just wanted to say thanks for all the support and encouragement over the years.
And here I thought I was just doing something quick and easy and obvious.