I recently forwarded an article to a friend. The friend is not a real close friend, but he’s certainly a person with whom I want to maintain a connection. The article caught my eye as I scrolled through my phone one morning . . . nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing. Just a simple story that made me think of a guy and the work he does. I assumed he’d appreciate that I connected some dots, thought of him, and took the time to pass along the link and well-wishes for his family. I consider this a decent recipe for human interaction . . . equal parts respect, consideration, and effort.
Respect is more than just admiration. It’s getting your hands dirty and investing in knowing other people. Taking the time to understand what, and why, people like certain things and how they think about particular topics and care about specific causes. Respecting each other also means recognizing that differences in approach, attitude, priorities, goals, etc. lead to more diversity, and ultimately greater strength in the fabric of our network. It’s easy to surround ourselves with like-minded people. It’s enriching to engage in conversations that challenge our assumptions and open our eyes to new opportunities. Respect is a willingness to appreciate others for who they are . . .
It’s fun to be thought of by others. Facebook birthday reminders and the creepy way that advertisers know what you’re thinking about buying have diluted the concept of consideration. Forever, men have (or at least tried to) remember their wives favorite flower, or perfume, or ice cream flavor. Sales people keep notebooks full of reminders that certain clients are considering a big project in Q4 or that a certain decision maker loves baseball and might be inclined to consider a deal after an afternoon at the ballpark. I try to keep track of what beers my friends like so that I can have their flavor stocked when they visit. All of these fall somewhere on the spectrum of consideration and help us connect the things we encounter to the people we respect.
I always roll my eyes and force a smile when someone says, “I was going to call you about that, but figured you already knew.” Or, “I thought you might be interested, but I wasn’t sure.” Or, “I was going to invite you, but I assumed you were busy.” Silly. For Pete’s sake, take a chance on me. If you really thought I’d care, because you respect me enough to know a bit about my likes and dislikes, priorities, and passions, and you had already been considerate enough to make the connection between the idea and me . . . reach out! Follow through. Send an innocent text. Shoot me an email. Leave a voice message. I’d love to have the information tossed into my court to consider and act on, or dismiss . . . but dismiss gratefully, appreciating the effort it took to share. If you’ve nailed respect and consideration, effort is that last push across the goal line. It requires a little more, but do it, invest in your friends and acquaintances: Share.
We are all overwhelmed by inputs into our lives every day. Countless filters are controlling what comes through our digital feeds. The personal touch of someone taking the time to know me and respect me, considering my preferences, and making the effort to share some tidbit is ALWAYS appreciated. Don’t misinterpret these steps and just start pressing “forward” or “share” on everything that makes you smile . . . invest in the people you know by limiting it to the things they’ll appreciate.
Respect people, consider them in different contexts, and put some effort into the relationships. It’ll enhance your life.