A friend recently posted on her own blog about three instances in which friends had gone above and beyond to show her kindness. Turns out one of those friends was me and I had no idea the impact something I had done had on her.
It was years ago when we were in school and she had done a presentation in a class we shared. I thought she did a great job, but a mutual friend told me a few days later that she had been grumbling to him that she thought it hadn’t gone so well. Determined to reassure her, I called her up to sing her praises and share my positive review. Little did I know that almost 20 years later, there would be something called a “blog” and that very phone call would be referenced in one.
Knowing how my actions made a difference for my friend made me not only appreciate the importance of being kind but also of thanking people for their kindness and telling them what it means. Chances are, we all do nice things in our day-to-day lives without giving much thought to how they may impact others in lasting ways, and hearing about them can certainly make us feel rewarded and valued.
We may hesitate to compliment others on their kindness, thinking that we don’t want to embarrass them, maybe it’s not worth mentioning, or we’re not sure when or how to bring it up. But, we never know what kind of day others are having. Maybe they’re feeling down, maybe they argued with their partner that morning, maybe they’re really in need of some positivity for any number of reasons, and our nice words may make a difference, even in just a small way.
If you need a place to start, here are three simple steps for recognizing others’ kindness:
Tell the story
Be specific about the act of kindness that was so meaningful for you. The other person might not remember it, so recount it. Something like, “I want to thank you for what you did for me last week. I was having a bad day, and you offered to go for coffee and talk.”
Share the impact
Let the person know how their act of kindness helped you. Again, they may underestimate or not get the impact they had on you, so spell it out. Something like, “I was feeling really down, but you listening to me and letting me vent made me feel much better.”
Accept their gratitude
Just like your recognition is important, so is accepting the other person’s gratitude for what you said. This is hard for many of us and we’re inclined to say something like “No need to thank me” or “It’s nothing”. But, if someone says “thank you”, it’s not nothing. Accept the gift of their gratitude and simply say “you’re welcome”.
As for me, reading my friend’s blog got me thinking about the nice things she’d done for me over the years and I was able to pass on some thanks of my own to her. Long overdue, but I think we both made each other’s days.
Want to learn more about how to support others with kindness and compassion? Consider taking a Mental Health First Aid course. Get the details here.