relationship gifts

10 Relationship-Building Gifts (and the best Christmas present I ever received)

In the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss writes,  “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?   What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more?”

Yes, indeed!  Some people have got it all wrong.  Some people think Christmas is all about gifts … beautifully wrapped things bought in a store or shipped from Amazon.

In reality, Christmas is all about relationships.

A nun taught me that lesson years ago and it changed my life forever.  She taught me there are ten gifts you can give to others that will dramatically improve your relationships at home and your teamwork on the job.

The nun was Sister Margaret Schweiss.  She was in my audience when I was delivering a relationship-building seminar for the staff of a nearby hospital.

At the end of the seminar, Sister Margaret pulled me aside and told me how liberating, empowering, and life-changing the program was for her. And to thank me, she said she would be giving me a gift every day for the rest of her life.

I was surprised and humbled, to say the least.  And it was a promise she kept.

Let me share Sister Margaret’s ten gifts with you because they may be the best Christmas gifts you could ever give anyone.  And make sure you read to the very end so I can tell you which gift she gave me … the best Christmas present I ever received … and it how it changed my life and lives of thousands of others.


=> 1.  The gift of listening.

Psychologists tell us that one of the greatest things we can do for another is to actively listen.  Why not give this valuable gift to those individuals on your list who live alone and have no one else to talk to?  This means you really listen– no interrupting, no daydreaming, no walking away, and no planning your response.  Just listen.


=> 2.  The gift of affection.

Take the time to give your loved ones signs of affection.  Be generous with your hugs, your kisses, your gentle squeezes of the hand, and your pats on the back.  Let these tiny actions demonstrate the great love you have inside of you.


=> 3.  The gift of a note.

Write notes to your loved ones.  They can be as simple as “I love you” or as creative as a sonnet.  Put your notes where they will surprise those special people–in his lunch, in her purse, among his socks, on her pantry shelf.  Though the notes may be a surprise, they will never be forgotten.


=> 4.  The gift of laughter.

Everyone loves to laugh.  Just cut out a cartoon, clip a joke, copy a riddle, or save a clever article.  And give it to the other person.  Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”


=> 5.  The gift of a game.

Most people have at least one game they like to play, whether it is tennis, golf, poker, chess or checkers.  Offer to play your loved one’s favorite game with him or her.  Even if you lose, you’ll be a winner, because together you will have shared an experience.


=> 6.  The gift of a favor.

Do favors for those special people on your list.  Help with the dishes, type up that letter, clean out the basement, shovel the driveway, run to the store.  This gift is made more valuable when it anticipates a request rather than when it responds to one.


=> 7.  The gift of a cheerful disposition.

Try to be cheerful around those you love and those you work with.  That means no complaining, no feeling sorry for yourself, no nasty comments, no screaming, and no pessimistic predictions.  Your gift of cheerfulness will be a precious gift for everyone, including yourself.


=> 8.  The gift of space.

There are times in our lives when we want nothing more than to be left alone.  Become more sensitive to those times in the lives of others.  Then respond generously by giving them the gift of solitude, or privacy, of do-not-disturb times, of being left alone.


=> 9.  The gift of a compliment.

Pay your loved ones compliments.  A simple “You look good in blue” or “I like your hair that way” or “Good supper, Honey” can be of tremendous value to people who may feel they are being taken for granted.  PS:  This gift works wonders on the job as well. Compliment someone on doing a great job.


=> 10.  The gift of prayer.

This may be the most immaterial yet most valuable gifts you could ever give: the gift of prayer.  Pray for all those people on your Christmas shopping list and let them know that you pray for them.  Praying for someone is another way of saying, “You are so special to me that I often talk to God about you.”

This 10th gift is the one Sister Margaret gave me.   After the seminar, she told me she would pray every day for me, for the keynotes and seminars I deliver, and for the thousands of people in my audiences around the world.  I was incredibly touched by her comment and her gift.

It was the best Christmas present I ever received because it was a gift that made (and continues to make) a huge positive difference in my life, my career, my relationships, and in the lives of everyone I encounter.

Over the next 30 years, Sister Margaret would send me notes of encouragement and became a great friend, often coming to visit or stay with me and my wife.  We would talk, and laugh, and do everything from sharing a meal together, to picking apples, to attending a baseball game, and boating on the ocean.

When a stroke ended her career as a traveling nurse anesthetist at age 82 and confined her to a bed for the last three years of her life, our relationship continued.  I would go to the nursing home and sit by her bed and give her the gift of companionship.

This Christmas, I challenge you to give as many of these ten gifts to as many people as you can.

And not to be commercial, you might consider giving yourself the gift of attending my next Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program coming to the Kansas City area in April of 2018. Click here to find out more.

Sister Margaret gave herself that gift.   And even though I thought she didn’t need to be there, her comments afterwards surprised me … and reminded me that the Journey program is an amazingly effective gift to give yourself or others.

Sister Margaret wrote, “Being an older nun, I came to the Journey convinced that I would not participate and it would not work for me.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I found the entire environment to be safe and fun and I learned to be POSITIVE.  I learned how I can speak with anyone and be accepted. I would not change anything in this amazing program. And the workbook you give out at the Journey is worth a million.”

 Merry Christmas to all of you!

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 914 – 10 Relationship-Building Gifts (and the best Christmas present I ever received)