A sentence or two can bring a whole lot of sunshine to someone else's day. What I'm talking about are kind words, which can be as simple as "I love you" or "I'm proud of you" (or if you're wanting to be extra sweet to me "let's get a donut".) These kind words come in many different ways, are quick and easy to share, and make a big impact for our recipient and our relationship with them. But between all of the other thoughts, ideas, and must do's bouncing around in our head, it seems like a lot of times these kind words tend to remain kind thoughts.
The past few days, I've been talking a lot about affirmation and feedback. I led a discussion at work about the benefits of giving authentic feedback in the workplace (both things you've done well and ways you could grow) and those conversations have continued all week. After, when stopping at a store to pick up a dress Will and I had found last weekend, the same woman we had chatted with was working. She shared the sweetest words about what a kind and incredible man Will is (and I'd very much have to agree).
What I've realized (and why I'm writing this post) from these discussions and unexpected compliments from a stranger is that these words make a big difference, far beyond that feel-good moment they initially bring. But sometimes we forget about sharing them ourselves. Sometimes, we even tell them to be quiet. When we are in a new job, sometimes our struggle to prove our worth puts our tunnel vision on, and we forget to step away from ourselves, and tell a coworker they did a great job in that meeting, or put in a strong effort on a project. If you're in a new relationship, sometimes our nerves about the relationship working out, or fear of judgment keeps us from sharing how we feel or what we really value or appreciate about the other person.
Now that we've started the conversation, my hope is that we can be more concious of sharing these kind thoughts that we have with others, and turn them into words. The best part is, when you share these authentic thoughts when they are happening, you create an environment where harder conversations are instead an opportunity to grow and connect, rather than degrade and become distance. At work, when you share small thoughts or more detailed feedback on a great effort or a brilliant idea, you build the trust and comfort to invite discussions on how you can improve efforts going forward. In relationships, when you share little things your significant other did that mean something to you, or things you value or find extraordinary about that person, you're then able to have open and honest conversations about how you can love and support one another even better. With the presence of a few "stored up kind words" these more difficult words to share have a more positive impact, rather than a negative one. And to me that's a whole other reason that they are oh-so worth it.
It's funny how before, these little points of feedback just seemed like a few sentences. But now, beyond that little pop of sunshine, you're creating the confidence, trust, and space to allow that person to continue to grow both on their own and with you. I can't seem to stop thinking about them, and I think that means its time to stop thinking and start speaking. My goal is as a kind thought comes into my head about a coworker, friend, or even a stranger, I'm going to turn them into kind words this week. At the least, you'll know you've just made that person a little happier. Based on what I've learned this week, I think it's safe to say you'll do a whole lot more than that too.