I recently attended the funeral of an elderly woman I didn’t know. I was there because she was the mom of a friend and I wanted to support him.
There were many touching tributes to her. They focused on her kindness and humour, and there were many good-natured laughs about just how thrifty she could be. I felt I knew her from the stories. The authentic way that people talked about her and the outpouring of love for her, made it apparent that she was the real deal. You can’t fake that kind of thing. People obviously loved and admired her.
I thought back to a workshop I attended with author Hal Urban. He talked about how people will say such nice things at someone’s funeral, but wondered how often we will say these same things directly to them while they are alive. It made me wonder if the woman whose funeral I attended knew how loved she was. Given typical human nature, she likely did not know how highly so many thought of her. That seems like a shame to me.
I have made it a habit to tell people what I appreciate about them. If you have trouble doing this, know that you are not alone. Many people have trouble telling people what is good about them. Sadly, the negative comes much more naturally. Try this. Create a private moment with someone and tell them something you admire about them.
“Brian, I just want you to know that I truly appreciate the work you are doing to mentor Andrew. It is amazing how generous you have been with your time and knowledge. He obviously appreciates it. You are an outstanding teacher!”
“Cathy, I think you are a great communicator and a caring leader. The kindness you show to your staff and our customers inspires me and your results are terrific. I admire you.”
“Honey, you are a great mom. I see patience and love in everything you do with our kids.”
I have reduced people (and usually myself) to tears with some of these from-the-heart living eulogy statements. The more I do it, the more I understand their power to make people feel noticed and good about themselves. If you want to make someone’s day (you do), give it a try.