How do you let people know that you care about them? How do you let people know that you appreciate the things they do to help you?
Too often we take for granted that people know how much they mean to us, that they know the things they do are appreciated, that they know we love them. We forget to tell them.
Do you regularly tell your partner/significant other that you love them? Do you tell your friends how much their friendship means to you? Do you tell your adult children how much you love them? Do you let your doctor, trainer, minister, financial advisor, dentist, and barber/hair stylist, know that you trust them and value the support and services they give?
Daily encounters give many opportunities to let others know that they are appreciated. It may be a neighbour who watches your house, a clerk who advises about new products, a telephone support operator who provides online technical support, a mechanic who maintains your car. These people give valuable information and help. They make life easier. They keep our lives on track.
Yet, too often, we take them for granted. Sometimes, we even forget to thank them.
I will be the first to admit that, too often, I’m guilty of taking people and the things they do, for granted.
While I often tell my husband how much I love him, I often forget to thank him for taking care of my car, or doing the banking, or setting up the coffee pot at night.
I often let my son know how much I love him but I may not let my daughter-in-law know how much I love and respect her. After all, she is the woman who so capably mothers our grand-child.
I try to let my friends know what their friendship means, but I often forget to be explicit about the ways they make my life better.
Where I really fall down with letting people know I care is with the long list of those who make my life comfortable, who provide services for me, or who I admire for the work they do. I’m appreciative when my house gets cleaned. I value my yoga mentor. I leave a tip when I get my hair cut even if it’s the shop owner who provides the service. I do small favours for my neighbour and watch her house when she’s away. But, I don’t often express gratitude to them.
It’s not always easy to let someone know that you care. For many families, outright expression of the words ‘I love you’ is a taboo. This was the case in my family of origin. Only as I became an adult, did I tell my mother directly that I loved her. I was surprised to hear her heartfelt response of love for me and I am forever grateful that such tenderness was expressed before she died.
In the broader society, it’s not socially appropriate to tell someone who provides professional services to you that you care for them. I can let my doctor and dentist know that I respect their advice and help. But I’m not sure that I’m ready to be too expressive, beyond saying thank you, with the sales clerk who helped me buy a sweater or the telephone operator who helped me deal with an internet problem.
In some situations, sending an email, giving support through a tweet or a Facebook ‘like’ is the modern way to express thanks and also to show you care. An old fashioned note by snail mail takes more time but is always appreciated.
A smile or a kind gesture is another way to express appreciation. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day with a compliment. Often, even the smallest gesture of kindness makes a big difference. We can also cook a special meal, send flowers, or buy a small gift to acknowledge people we care about.
Expressions of love and gratitude make both you and the other person feel good. Kinds words and deeds are important. By letting others know how much they matter to us, how much we care about them, or how helpful they have been in making a difference in our lives, relationships are strengthened.
Finally, a word from elders. Karl Pillemer, in a recent Huffington Post article, “Living a Life Without Regrets”, advises that if we have something to say to someone, we should do it before it’s too late. As we grow older, it’s important to remember that there may not be a second opportunity to say what is needed. Critical things can’t be left for a future that grows smaller everyday.
I hope that all who read this post find ways to let people know we care about them. With some thought, all of us can make a conscious effort to pay more attention to what others do for us — and to let them know how much they are appreciated.