It really doesn’t take much to make a day a good day, both for me, and for those I interact with. Sure, there are things I cannot control, but if I think about it, there is a lot I can. Going into this next decade my goal is to try to incorporate more small gestures of kindness into each day.
Remembering someone’s name is a small recognition that goes a long way. I have shopped at the same Von’s grocery store for almost six years now and while I know the people there recognize me, not once has someone remembered my name without reading it off my sales receipt first. On the other hand, the saleswoman at Nordstrom not only remembers my name, she called my son by his first name when he was in the store without me earlier this week. And he has only met her twice. That’s impressive. Made him feel so good he came home and told me about it. I do an okay job remembering the names of acquaintances, but as with most things, I have room for improvement.
Another small gesture that is typically well received: letting another driver into the flow of traffic. Sounds silly, but how angry do you get when no one will let you in? Ticks me off to no end. When I lived in Atlanta, if you made eye contact, you were allowed in. Here in San Diego, not-so-much. They can see the whites of your eyes and still cruise right on by. I am going to make a point of letting people into traffic more often and when let in myself, I will wave my thanks–at least twice. Waving thanks is a nice gesture too.
My husband and I own a store and while I no longer spend my days there, I can still remember how it feels to have someone breeze in while talking on their cell phone and then breeze out again all the while never acknowledging the human beings they have just come in contact with. I try to remember not to talk on my cell phone in stores and restaurants but need to make sure this coming year that I don’t do it at all.
I was raised in the South by two very well-mannered Northerners, so I know to say, “Thank you,” “Please” and “Excuse me.” My husband and I have raised our children to do the same. I’d like to do more than just say the correct thing this next year. I’d like to put some oomph behind the words. In short, I’d like to be more gracious, genuinely gracious, in 2010. Merriam-Webster’s defines the word gracious in the following way: 1 a obsolete : godly b archaic : pleasing, acceptable
2 a : marked by kindness and courtesy <a gracious host> b : graceful c : marked by tact and delicacy : urbane d :characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding <gracious living>
“Generosity of spirit,” that sounds really appealing to me. I want some of that! This past fall I had the pleasure of working with a charity on a fundraiser that coincided with my store’s fifth year anniversary celebration. One of the women I worked with on this event was gracious beyond belief. I have never interacted with someone who seemed to know, instinctively, the exact right thing to say. She possessed not only a great energy and enthusiasm, but also the generosity of spirit that I now covet! I will try to spend more time with her and people like her in 2010–maybe something will rub off!
As this year comes to an end, I know a lot of people will not feel sad. They will not sing Old Lange Syne, but will instead cheer “Na na na na / na na na na / hey hey hey / goodbye.” 2009 was tough for a lot of folks. Come to think of it, this entire decade was difficult at best. So many things changed on September 11, 2001. We shouldn’t forget that. We also should remember that while grand gestures are lovely, it is often the little things that make our fellow-man (woman, child) feel a bit better.
In addition to the above, here are five things I will try really hard to do better in 2010:
1. I am a good loser, but not a great winner. Got to work on that. I promise to try not to be unbearable when my Georgia Bulldogs defeat Florida in football next year. Sorry, couldn’t resist, besides the new year hasn’t begun yet.
2. I will ask more often how other people are doing and then I will listen–really listen–to their response.
3. I will try really hard not to feel like telemarketers and solicitors are invading my space. I am getting better at this, I usually don’t answer the phone, but the times I do, I am not very gracious.
4. If I go out of my way to do something extra for my husband and children, I will do so without feeling the need to point out that I have done so!
5. I will remember that everything I say or do is the equivalent of handing out my personal business card. In other words, I represent me! I’d like to, in business jargon–keep the brand strong and thriving! It won’t take much, just a few little things.
How about you? Any goals for 2010?