Thursday, March 7, 2013

How you make others feel does matter

Yesterday I wrote about Oprah Winfrey interviewing poet and author Maya Angelou on her 70th birthday and the wisdom Angelou offered on things she's learned in the aging process.

One pearl of wisdom Angelou offered is: "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."

Many experiences come to mind for me. One that stands out, however, occurred when my husband, our four-month-old son and I landed in Papua New Guinea. My husband and I were only in our mid-twenties, were first-time parents and faced five years of life in this amazing, remote and, to us, strange new place. It was pretty daunting. I was more than a bit afraid, unsure of what life there would hold; and I was homesick as well.

I will never forget how a couple who later became dear friends welcomed us and calmed our fears. I don't remember what they said. I don't remember much of what they did—with one notable exception: They loaned us a rocking chair because they said we couldn't possibly raise a baby without one! They were right.

What I really remember, however, is the way they made us feel at home in our new surroundings. They had already lived there a few years but apparently hadn't forgotten what it was like to make that cultural adjustment from the U.S. to this developing country. They cushioned our adjustment and helped us make our way more openly and with fewer fears. What a gift Jim and Carol gave us! They made us feel that we, too, could make that adjustment—that we, too, could come to appreciate the gifts of life in that beautiful place. And they were right.

I invite you to really pay attention to how you make others feel. I know Angelou's words are a good reminder to me.

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