Give warm greetings and farewells

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Each time I finish a book, I find invariably that there’s something that particularly stands out or that resonates with me. There’s that one thing – sometimes just a small notion – that sticks in my mind.

When I read Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, it was McKeown’s exhortation to “Do less, but better!” that stayed with me. Likewise, James Wallman’s Stuffocation left me with this simple but perfect mantra: “Experiences over stuff.”

A ‘sticky’ resolution

So, I wasn’t surprised when I finished Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home and found myself musing over one of her many resolutions. It was this:

“Give warm greetings and farewells.”

In spite of Rubin’s sensible acknowledgement that you can only change yourself, she made an exception when proposing this resolution to her family.

She wanted to ensure that family members felt acknowledged and welcomed when returning home. Further, she wanted these brief but important moments of connection to be extended to saying farewell whenever a family member left for his or her daily trip to work or school or wherever they were going.

How important are these moments of connectedness!

How connected are we really?

We live in a connected world. As of June 2017, Facebook is said to have had 2.01 billion active users; Twitter 328 million and Instagram 600 million. Today’s technology enables us to reach people in myriad ways, whenever we feel like it. Our teenagers are ultra-connected, with an almost constant flow of SnapChat snippets and ‘streaks’ to keep them – and their network – tethered by wifi.

And yet, when our loved ones walk through the door, do we lift our heads from the iPad, put down the virtual pencil or look up from whatever we are doing? Not always. Why? Because we are distracted. We are drowning in busy-ness. We’ll be there in a minute.

This won’t be new, but I suppose we have to disconnect to reconnect.

Who greets you first?

The late, great Nora Ephron wrote:

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”

Many a true word said in jest….

I once attended a family gathering at which the children of the host acknowledged their grandparents’ arrival with something akin to mild indifference. Witnessing the grandparents’ confusion and hurt made me resolve that, within our own family, we would always ensure that we made our own parents feel truly welcome.

Spark those connections

Reading Rubin’s resolution reminded me of the importance of this daily ritual, as we acknowledge the daily comings and goings of loved ones.

So, now, within our little family of three (plus dog!), we now observe this resolution in our own day-to-day interactions and remind each other, “Warm greetings and farewells!” It really does make a difference.

Do you have a mantra or resolution to help you maintain those family connections? What’s your way of sparking and maintaining a connection with loved ones? Let me know by replying below!


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12 ways to enjoy moments, not transactions

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So much of our lives is transactional.

We queue (of course; we’re British!!), we pay, we leave. We whizz by, we wave hello, we move on. We’re so busy…

Enjoy little moments

So this week, here are 12 ways to enjoy moments, rather than merely transactions:

Make eye contact

Look the barista in the eye; enjoy that moment of connection. Wish her a good day and mean it.

Smile

A smile can make a big difference. Smile as you welcome a group, as you enter a meeting, as you pass someone in the corridor. If good manners cost nothing, then a smile costs even less.

Take a minute

See someone, as you pass on the pavement. Don’t just “walk on by” but pause for a moment. Have a brief chat. Enjoy a moment of connection with someone else. Who knows how much that little moment might have meant to them?

Don’t rush

What’s the big hurry? Why all the rush? Be mindful as you walk to the grocery store. Look around you. Enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face, or the sound of raindrops on your brolly!

Create space

Don’t jam-pack your schedule with task after task. Let there be space to connect with others, add an unexpected activity or simply have time to think. Equally, allow plenty of time to get from a) to b). Who wants to put themselves under unnecessary pressure?

Slow down

This applies in so many spheres of life: driving, typing, cooking, shopping… You name it, we’d all get there more safely, achieve a ‘right first time’ outcome and avoid missing (or forgetting) something if we’d just slow down.

Say thank you

Express thanks and mean it. The person on the receiving end of your thank you may be delighted – even surprised – so just do it!

Express gratitude not platitudes

Saying thank you matters, but expressing sincere, heartfelt, deeply-felt gratitude to someone who has touched your life can mean so much. When my father retired from a long career in teaching, a former pupil took the time to write and say how much he had appreciated what my dad had taught him. The young man had gone onto a career that had built on those early foundations. Imagine the joy at reading this. Express gratitude whenever you can.

Pay someone a genuine compliment

Don’t compliment the outfit. Tell them they look great. Comment on the way they delivered that session or how much you enjoyed something they had written. Tell them you find their baking delicious! Pay them a compliment today!

Extend an invitation

Invite new friends for a bring-and-share meal. Invite a friend to come and sit on your sofa and share a glass of wine. Ask someone to join you at an event you’re planning to attend. Even if they don’t come along, they’ll appreciate the invitation.

Ask questions

The best conversationalists are said to be those who actually ask the most questions. They make others feel at ease. They ask open questions and are genuinely interested in knowing you better. Practice asking questions, as well as sharing your own story.

Show compassion/empathy

You’ll have seen the post that urges us to be kind to others, because we are all facing unseen challenges. When that challenge becomes public, ask that person how they are. How are they feeling? “Tell me about that,” may be a way for the person to open up and share a problem. They might not want to talk, but a caring touch on the shoulder or a wordless hug can also mean a lot.

So, as this week unfolds, when can you turn  a transaction into a moment? I’d love to hear from you!


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