How do you make people feel?

Nov 6, 2013 by

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou


          I’ve been thinking about the car in front of me when I was rear-ended on Monday morning. I was proceeding straight through an intersection when the car ahead stopped to make a left turn from the straight lane, forcing me to stop, at which point I was hit from behind. In the seconds it took me to fathom what had happened, the car in front of me was gone, the driver probably unaware that his or her last-minute decision to turn had caused an accident.

          It blows my mind how ignorant we can be to the impact that we have on other people. A small, seemingly insignificant action can have a great effect on someone else; meanwhile, the actor is innocently oblivious to what he or she induced. Depending on how our actions are perceived, the results can be either negative or positive for others. To illustrate, a late-night booty call that insults one girl could make another girl feel confident. It could also make the same girl feel offended one night but complimented another night, her viewpoint varying based on factors such as her mood, her current situation, or the guy who is contacting her. Reactions differ based on perspective. Personally fascinated by the consequences of apparently unimportant acts or choices (I am by no means referring to telling Hot Bartender that I was 18; but, telling Hot Bartender that I was 18, for example), I can make my head spin trying to analyze how changes to little moves that I or people I know have made could have shifted my course or someone else’s.

          Although we usually can’t be certain of how we’re making people feel, we can maintain an awareness of our potential to largely affect others and strive to ensure that our influence is positive. I try my best to be observant of people’s responses to my words and actions, so I can tailor my communication and body language to make them comfortable. Having had a lot of practice with this as a manager at my old job, I tend to do it without thought now. Actually, last week was the first time in a while that I executed this with purpose.

          My attentiveness was heightened by an excellent article about intimacy I had just read that reminded me of the importance of paying attention to how I’m making others feel. I was careful to focus on listening (something that I am sometimes terrible at, being a talkative girl) and asking questions to demonstrate interest in what was being said, as opposed to bragging about Cabo or providing updates on other aspects of my awesome life. It made me feel good knowing that I seemed to be making the person I was with feel heard and comfortable enough to talk about something real (versus the fake everything-is-good front that we so often put up for people). Though I am naturally inquisitive and genuinely interested in what’s going on in friends’ and – let’s be real – anyone-that-I-meet’s lives, it’s helpful to be reminded of my influence on others every once in a while. At times during my life when I’ve felt anonymous, I’ve forgotten that being absent is an action with consequences. Therefore, I like when life sends me little memos that what I do matters to the people around me. It allows me to maintain sensitivity to others by aiming to make them feel at ease in my presence.

          Friends, let’s give people feelings worth remembering. Let’s deliver something positive: happiness, confidence, appreciation, spontaneity, laughter – whatever! Let’s make strangers’ days. (Isn’t it the best when someone tells you that you made their day?) Ladies, be that girl that makes some guy feel hot by initiating unexpected flirtatious banter. Boys, be that guy that approaches some girl on the street and tells her that she’s beautiful on the same day that someone else ignored her text. (Yes, that girl may have been me, and that random cute guy I’ll never see again may have made my night that evening. Was it my specificity that gave me away?) Not only will they feel good, so will you.

Happiness Tip: Make other people feel good.

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  1. Edyta

    Love it…

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