7 Gifts Everyone Wants
Every time you interact with another human being you establish or reinforce two things:
1) Your reputation—how others see you, and
2) Your identity—how you see yourself.
Some interactions affect those two things more than others. The stronger the emotions, the higher the stakes, or the deeper the disclosure, the greater the impact to your reputation and identity… for better or for worse!
This time of year, it’s Feelings Central. For some, this is a wonderful and exuberant season; for others, the absolute worst.
And for many, this also signifies a time of giving—giving gifts to friends and family, giving to charity, giving year-end bonuses to employees, and so on. It can be a lot. A lot of giving, a lot of receiving. A lot of fun, but a lot of pressure, too.
How and what you give affects your reputation and your identity. (Like I said: PRESSURE!) So here are some things you can give—now or any time of the year—that require little investment on your part, but will positively impact both your reputation and your self-worth in a huge way. If you give these away on a regular basis, you’ll find there’s a lot less riding on the tangible gifts you give. (In other words: LESS pressure—yay!)
1) Your Presence.
Okay, I lied. This can sometimes be a huge investment, but generally not the monetary kind. Some days, it takes a lot to be fully present with others. And then there are days where, for me at least, it feels like I’m in such rough shape that sparing people my presence would be a much better gift than sharing it! But most often, simply showing up (virtually or in person) and giving others your full attention is a valuable gift. When you have a positive(ish) presence, you lift others up—and that is a gift worth giving!
2) A Smile.
A true smile extends all the way to your eyes. That means you can give this gift even when you’re wearing a face mask. And it means that if you give someone a fake smile behind a mask, it doesn’t come through. D’oh! If you aren’t sure you can (or do) smile all the way to your eyes, try lifting your eyebrows. At the very least, it gets the top half of your face involved, and frequently it will end up turning your polite fake smile into a real one. A smile is a free gift you can give anyone to boost their mood (and yours, too!). Win-win.
Dude, pretty much everyone is struggling. I mean, maybe you aren’t right now, and if so, that’s great! But most people have something difficult they’re dealing with most of the time that you know nothing about. It could be a childhood trauma they’re carrying around or a debt or a fear or a conflict or maybe they just stubbed their toe right before speaking with you. You don’t know, so just give them the benefit of a doubt.
And if you’re dealing with someone in the service industry and you are frustrated and angry, 99% of the time it’s not the waiter or the clerk or the customer service rep’s fault that you aren’t getting what you want. Instead of being the 47th person to yell at them or leave a crappy tip, how about being the one that makes their day? Be kinder than you need to be. Make it a habit. It not only makes the world a happier place to live in, it makes your life a happier life to live.
Every person you meet is important. Few people feel so. When you give someone a reason to feel they matter, they will find beautiful ways to thank you.
For almost two years now, the world has been drowning in uncertainty. People hate that. It makes them grumpy. (I’m saying “them” because I would not want to infer that you are ever grumpy.) The more clear you can be in your expectations and communication, the safer and happier everyone feels. This applies even when you have bad news. Don’t sugarcoat it or beat around the bush. Don’t be passive-aggressive. Be clear. Clarity is a gift—one many are starving for right now.
Grateful people are seen as more competent, capable, and likeable by others. Expressing thanks also makes you feel better about yourself. Simply saying two magic words—”Thank you”—can be a huge investment in your reputation and identity. Especially thank those who don’t seem to need the appreciation, those whose work or dependability can be easily taken for granted. They are the ones it means the most to. Give thanks for gifts, compliments, time, and anything others may give you (including everything on this list!). Sometimes, giving others the chance to give to you and receiving what they give with grace and gratitude is the biggest gift of all.
7) A Firm yet Pleasant “No.”
Give others the gift of taking care of yourself. You are a gift: your time, your energy, your presence. But you can’t pour from an empty cup. Sometimes you have to back off on the quantity that you give in order to deliver quality. Learn to say “no” to others so you can say “yes” to yourself and your own needs. When you give yourself that gift, you give better gifts to others, too.
Author Adam Grant demonstrates in his book Give and Take that being a giver leads to greater success and personal well-being. So… give! Take care of your own needs and give to others. Every day. All year long. By being a giver you will build better relationships, a stronger reputation, and a solid identity that will withstand the ups and downs of every season.
Change your communication, change your life.