I was so excited this week, when two people I had known well at my very first job more than 30 years ago sent me friend invites on Facebook.
I’ve neither seen nor heard from either of them in all that time – and yet I was genuinely delighted when one of them said that she had been searching for me on Facebook for some time.
I remember her well, and have occasionally thought about looking for her, too, but I hadn’t got around to it.
So why was I so excited? I gave it some thought.
We all have inner demons. I call mine Gollum, and he’s paranoid.
I think that we all want to be liked. Even those who don’t live with a Gollum tapping their shoulder every so often.
So imagine how good it feels to hear this implied, as it was by my old friend. That it should happen while I am battling with Gollum– or rather, trying to leave Gollum behind – is actually quite wonderful.
My friend can have no idea how much her words – probably a throwaway line to her – have meant to me.
I genuinely like people, and so I go out of my way to help and to support them, especially those I enjoy spending time with. I like to make people smile, and laugh. I get satisfaction from it.
I’m the team member who organises the Christmas party, and flowers for others that are having a tough time.
I’m the family member that arranges things to do together – not just saying who wants to come on holiday, but booking the accommodation, flights, day trips, and collecting up the money.
I don’t begrudge doing these things. I like doing them. Not so that people will like me, but because I like making people happy and seeing people happy because of the things that I’ve done.
I’ve always been like that. And when I was poorly earlier this year I got cards, balloons and presents (not flowers – I’m allergic to them!) from the team I currently work with – without me to organise it. This must mean that they do, in fact, like me.
To hear from someone who I enjoyed spending time with 30 years ago remembers me – just as I was – and that they were actively looking to reconnect with me, suggests that they liked me then too. How great is that?
I can say, with some degree of certainty now, that I’m likeable. People did and do like me. Gollum can – as I’ve said before – “go away and never come back”.
Little efforts with big results
But it also reminds me that we all need to hear this sometimes. So let’s try to show the people around us that we care.
It’s the little things that matter isn’t it? My sister-in-law once told a friend that she fancied reading a particular book and the very next day the book arrived. Her friend had immediately ordered it online and had it delivered the next day.
What else could you do?
- For most people (though not me obviously!) a bunch of flowers will brighten up their day. By the way, chocolate is a really good alternative – not that I’m hinting.
- Pick up the phone to talk to someone you value but haven’t spoken to for a while.
- Send a ‘saw this and thought of you’ card.
- Make time for a friend who needs someone to listen. It’s always nice to pick up the bill when you go for lunch, too.
All these actions speak loud and clear. They say quite simply “I like having you in my life. I value you.”
It’s so very easy to make someone’s day a little better. And if they pay it forward, maybe we could all start appreciating each other that bit more…
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