Have you got a minute to make someone smile?
It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. We’re all so time poor and hyper-focused on our own lives, work, and schedules that we can forget how easy it is to lift someone else up.
You know the general advice:
- Give a compliment, but a real one. Be specific and genuine.
- Tell someone you appreciate them or their work.
- Send a thank-you email, comment, note.
- Make eye contact and smile. Make them the complete focus of your attention for the minute you are with them.
We have all heard these ideas before, although it’s always good to be reminded of them — I know I need to occasionally.
Here are three more you might not have heard which make a big impact without much effort:
1. Offer an Opportunity
Can you give someone an opportunity that they can’t get themselves?
A few years ago I met a 13-year-old girl who was interested in becoming a journalist. Her mum was the local librarian and when she found out I’m a writer she got very excited and wanted me to have a talk with her daughter.
At the time, I wasn’t sure there was anything I could do to help. Then one of my editors called with a job. I was writing for a children’s magazine at the time and she wanted someone to email interview two authors. It was the perfect opportunity for a new journalist. I rang up the librarian and asked if her daughter would like to get paid to interview one of the authors and write it up (with my supervision).
That job led to an even bigger one. The editor loved the idea of our writing team and arranged for us to phone interview a Disney channel star. I let the 13-year-old take charge of the job and sat next to her as support (turns out she’s a natural interviewer and did a better job than I would have!). The Disney actor was so impressed with her interview that he chatted with her well after the allotted 10-minute call and sent her a signed poster.
A few years later she was accepted to a media studies program at university and today she’s a journalist. It didn’t take much effort to offer her that opportunity. In fact, it saved me a lot of effort. It was a small thing for me, that meant a big deal for her.
- What opportunities do you have to offer?
2. Say Yes to Advice — But Don’t Do the Work For Them
All of us have areas of expertise and areas we’re training in. It might be writing, business, marketing, cooking, parenting… We all need help at some point, so when someone asks you for advice, say yes. Advice can be powerful for a newbie and if you team it up with encouragement, it’s even better.
Mentoring takes longer than a few minutes (but can be very rewarding if you have time), but advice doesn’t take much effort at all. If you get asked for the same advice often, write it down in a blog or document and direct them to it.
When I was a starving uni student, brand new to cooking and failing badly at it, I rang up my dad’s secretary and asked for advice. I knew he was a good cook and, thankfully, he took a minute out of his busy day to offer his advice.
What I was asking was simple: What do I do with a pumpkin? How do I cook this chicken? (I was seriously limited in my cooking skills!) But his quick advice meant I ate much better that night. It made my day.
3. Give Them Something to Look Forward To
If you don’t have time now to spend with someone, then let them know you are keen to schedule it in. Giving people something to look forward to can make their day.
Having something to look forward to is a powerful tool that is often used in depression treatment. Positive plans for the future give us hope and makes us more optimistic about life.
When you know someone values spending time with you, whether that’s a friend, your partner, family, or a work colleague, letting them know they are on your mind and in your plans makes them feel valued.
- “Do you want to go out to dinner with me tonight?”
- “Should we go to that show next weekend?”
- “I’d love to catch up and hear about your project this week.”
When you say it, schedule it into your calendar. You’ll lose their trust if you’re all talk and don’t follow through on your plans.
Having things to look forward to is important — even if it’s just coffee and a chat, or cuddles and a movie.
A compliment, advice, smile, or meaningful comment, involves very little effort from us and yet it can make a big difference for someone else. Lifting others up makes us feel great too. When was the last time you made someone’s day?