Do you want to know the one thing that will make every single one of your relationships significantly better?
It's easy. If you think a kind thought, say it. Out loud.
How many times have you thought, "Wow, my co-worker is really great with customers" or "Gee, I love to hear my kids laugh," yet kept the thought to yourself? Here's the big secret: We're all constantly trying to figure out what other people think about us. In the absence of someone telling us directly, we draw our clues from their facial expressions and body language.
Someone may be thinking, "That's a great presentation." But if their face is fixed in a grim look, even if it's a look of concentration, we'll assume they don't like what we're saying.
Let me spell it out even more directly. If you are thinking nice thoughts about the people around you, yet your facial expressions and body language continually reveal how tired you are in your own life, people will interpret your mannerisms as a reflection of how you feel about them.
In the absence of positive words, people will assume that you don't like them or care about them. This is true in a work environment and in our personal lives.
Without positive language, our thoughts err on the negative side. Fortunately, there's an easy fix. Just say it!
If there was ever a moment when you looked across the room at your wife and thought, "Wow, she's beautiful," say it. If you ever looked at your boss or co-worker and thought, "He's really smart," tell him. If you ever looked at your kids and thought, "Wow, I sure am lucky," let them know.
The payback is immediate and enormous. As Mother Teresa once said, "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." When you make someone else feel fabulous, it circles right back to you.
You get the immediate win of elevating the current conversation. You also get the long-term win of having your kind words echo in their heart when you're not around. Which not only makes them feel better about themselves, but they're more predisposed to feel better about you.
If you're still stuck in the camp of "Why should I have to tell my employees they're doing a great job, isn't their paycheck enough?" or "Why should I have to tell my spouse I love them, I'm still here aren't I?"
Get over yourself.
I can't say this more plainly. By not verbalizing positive words, you're not only cheating other people out of a great experience, you're cheating yourself.
I've coached executives around the world, and I can tell you the real reason people don't share their positive thoughts is because of their own discomfort with anything that hints of emotional engagement. But this isn't emotionally risky; it's emotionally easy. You don't have to make anything up, you don't have to wax eloquent or worry about choosing the perfect words. Just verbalize what you're already thinking.
I promise, nothing bad will happen to you when you share kind thoughts. If you're still on the fence, ask yourself what would happen if your boss or spouse did this for you? And what are you missing out on by not doing it for them?
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Lisa Earle McLeod helps organizations win the hearts and minds of customers and employees. She is the author of three books included the best-seller, The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small, A Washington Post Top 5 Book for Leaders.
She is an international keynote speaker and consultant who has been seen on The Today show and featured in Forbes, Fortune, CEO Read and The Wall Street Journal. You can reach her at www.LisaEarleMcLeod.com.