After a brief but enlightening conversation with a colleague who teaches classes on storytelling, I Googled the word “storytelling” and, as expected, was gratified with 28,900,000 results in 0.79 seconds.
I was drawn to the graphics that were on the first Google result page which consequently lead me to a video entitled #TellThemNow. The simple premise of the video was to break down the barriers that we experience when telling those closest to us how we feel about them. Have tissues handy when you view it. [The video is at the bottom of this post.]
I learned at an early age that life is short, and we have a limited amount of time with which we can spend with those we love. In my early 20’s, I lost my boyfriend to Crohn’s disease, followed quickly by my sister who died of leukemia and then my father from a heart attack. My sister’s illness was prolonged, and I was able to spend time with her reminiscing about our childhood. We were both young and naïve about the illness, and we had every expectation that she would recover fully. It was a shock when she was gone. She was 32.
But the valuable experience of spending time with her during the days of her illness made me realize that I couldn’t afford to procrastinate. It became my mission to spend whatever time possible with the rest of my immediate family, showing them, telling them what they meant to me. I recognized that turning my back on that mission would haunt me for the rest of my days.
Four decades later, I’m still cognizant of that short life span. When managing a team in the corporate world, I made certain that I expressed my personal appreciation to my individual team members not only as contributors but also as fellow human beings. It takes some courage to do this, regardless of the recipient.
Express appreciation to someone below you in your organization, and s/he might feel you are being condescending. Express appreciation to someone above you, and s/he might feel you are being obsequious. My solution? Do it anyway. I have no control over what the recipient believes are my motives. The value of the exchange is only partially about the recipient. Yes, compliments or positive statements make recipients feel appreciated and valued, but it also gives you, the giver, a brain boost.
Tell someone today how valued s/he is.