As we wrap yet another year, we will also be concluding a time during which so many of us found ourselves extending holiday greetings to all those on our radar screen. Wishing friends, associates, and colleagues a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year is a common courtesy, and a sincere one as well I am sure.
While the language used in these greetings varies, most of us will agree that the intent is to extend warm wishes. Christmas is no doubt the busiest time for sharing such sentiments.
So what is a sentiment? You have no doubt heard this fact: what people remember most about you is how you made them feel. If you can make others feel valued, feel important, special, even loved, then you have made an impact.
So how do you do this? I can only share this from personal experience. And I mean personal experience! I can only tell you how to make others feel good by sharing with you some examples of how other people who have made me feel good. These are individuals who, in recent memory, have gone out of their way to make me feel special (and I will add with gratitude that this is only a partial list):
- A friend once gave me a simple, yellow index card with only his handwriting on it. At the top was my name, then it was followed by a simple scriptural quote (Ephesians 2:8-10), and at the end, he signed his name and dated it. I attached an adhesive magnet to the other side and it hangs on my refrigerator at this moment, several years later.
- Another colleague and past client, Tripp Braden, at a coffee meeting not long after we had first begun collaborating, gave me a Christmas gift out of the blue: it was a print of a beautiful painting of a tiger that he did (beyond being an accomplished business consultant Tripp is a gifted artist and photographer). The print was professionally matted and framed. I was completely taken aback…he said simply that it was his way of saying “thank you” for the value my passive work has brought to his life this year. I was deeply moved.
- Some time ago, my friend Joe Finneran, a client and financial advisor here in Columbus, gave me a simple post card of an image his daughter had crafted. It also was a scripture quote (Jeremiah 29:11), but his daughter embellished it with her own drawings. I invite you to see it by clicking on the image here. These are simple cards he had color copied himself, and he just hands them out to people he meets (and he claims it has had a tremendous impact on his business this past year).
- A few years ago, my friend Thomas W. Parry, a sales and networking professional in Greenville, South Carolina sent me a personal greeting card, with a simple expression of gratitude for how my work has helped him. I could tell that the message was from the heart. I met Tom when he flew from Greenville to Columbus just to attend one of our prospecting boot camps. Later the following year, he flew me down to his neck of the woods to deliver the same program to a group of professionals in his own community. Needless to say, the feelings are truly mutual.
- And lastly (and again, this concludes a partial list), I cannot forget the hand-made Christmas card that I received from my then- 11-year old daughter Isabelle, which accompanied a hand-made picture frame. The frame was decorated with buckeyes (it’s an Ohio-thing…and three of them were missing!). But the card, and the handwritten sentiments she shared nearly brought me to tears (Oh, the heck with it…actually it did bring me to tears, and was the highlight of my Christmas.).
Note cards, greeting cards, and simple gifts are how most of these sentiments are delivered. The examples I have shared differ from each other in their own way. But what they all have in common, and indeed why they have had an enduring impression on my heart, is that I know that each person through their respective gesture, was sharing with me a part of theirs. It was real.
And perhaps that is truly the best way to make another person feel special, and feel appreciated: sharing a part of your heart.
One of the topics I typically hound on so much here is the importance of persistence—of realizing that it takes many, many touches often for business relationships to unfold. It’s a make often, but for now as we set out and begin this new year, I invite you to, at least once per day, send someone a sentiment. Take some cues from the examples I shared above.
Very important: don’t make it routine…make it something you look forward to. After all, when you know you are doing something that is going to make someone else feel good, the reward comes back tenfold.