Whatever your beliefs, we’re about to end one year and start another. And at this time of the year, people from across the world give gifts. It’s a wonderful way to show love and appreciation and build your relationships at home and on the job.
However, the original meaning of the season has been forgotten by so many people. For them, the season has become nothing more than a fun but expensive, commercial venture.
Even the Grinch learned that. As Dr. Seuss wrote in his book, “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?”
It does mean a great deal more! That’s why I compiled my 8 Grinch-approved gifts for the season.
When you give one of these gifts, you are giving the most priceless gift of all: yourself. And in the process, you will invariably strengthen your personal and professional relationships a great deal more than a store-bought present or a gift certificate ever could.
► 1. The gift of listening.
Psychologists say that one of the greatest things you can do for another person is to listen. This means you really listen– no interrupting, no daydreaming, no glancing at your cell phone or computer, and no planning your response. Just listen.
And if you doubt the value of this gift, look at the research. In several recent studies of young children, when asked what they most wanted from their parents … and you may never guess the answer … was EYE CONTACT. In other words, “Put down the phone, look at me, and listen.”
Of course this gift goes both ways. Older kids need to learn or be taught to put down the phone, look at the other person, and listen. It is a huge GIFT in today’s culture.
► 2. The gift of a compliment.
Give more compliments to your friends, family members, and coworkers. And if you don’t know what to say or how to phrase it, use “The Language of Validation” that I teach in my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program.
Simply put, they are sentence stubs that compliment another person, but they are seldom spoken and rarely forgotten. For example, one of them starts with the words “I respect …” When is the last time someone at home or at work said “I respect you for …?” Hopefully recently. Hopefully frequently. But maybe never. It is a powerful GIFT to tell someone else what you respect about him or her.
Other phrases in “The Language of Validation,” which I learned from my 92-year old mentor, Dr. Sidney Simon, include:
- I admire …
- I celebrate …
- I cherish …
- I value …
- I applaud …
- I love …
- I appreciate …
Each of these phrases, or other ones that you make up, are GIFTS that will strengthen your relationships on and off the job.
► 3. The gift of a handwritten note.
Write notes to your loved ones. They can be as simple as “I love you” or as creative as a poem you create. Put your notes where they will surprise those special people–in their lunches, among their socks, on the front seat of their car, in a desk drawer – or even sent by mail. Though the notes may be a surprise, they will never be forgotten.
I can attest to that personally. Over the last six months I’ve spent countless hours going through boxes and boxes of stuff I inherited from my grandparents more than 25 years ago and never looked at. What struck me were their most prized possessions … letters, notes, and postcards sent to them by friends and family members … going back to the early 1900’s.
Remember, your handwritten note is more than a bunch of news or a comment on the weather. It is a GIFT.
► 4. The gift of education.
With few exceptions, most gifts bought in a store bring only temporary happiness. You just happened to get something you like, but over time your likes change and the gift means less and less.
Lasting joy, on the other hand, comes from gifts that change your head or your heart, which is what good education is all about. You gave someone some education that changed them for the better.
That’s what happened when AgStar sent one of their employees Cathy Riley to my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience. After attending the program, she called her friend Jolene Brown to talk about it and all the ways she was encouraged. Then Jolene wrote me this note, saying, “Alan, your ‘Journey’ experience was a HUGE gift to my friend, Cathy Riley. When she called me last night, she was still bubbling over, not just with enthusiasm, but with results. I’m just plain tickled to know you and see the impact you’re making.”
The neat thing about this fourth gift, the gift of education, is that it’s also one you can give yourself. As Eileen Zierman said, “I thought if I could spend lots of dollars on fishing trips, I could sprout my wings and invest in your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience. I could learn more about myself, my relationships, and my work. Well, I went and I’m doing the work and it’s working. What a blessing from God. It was money well spent. I’m excited about the learning and it feels WONDERFUL.”
F.Y.I. As my holiday gift to you, I’m offering the lowest-tuition ever on the next Journey program coming to St. Louis on April 23-24, 2020. This rate is a holiday special, good during the month of December only.
► 5. The gift of laughter.
Everyone loves to laugh. Give those you love the gift of laughter. Just cut out a cartoon, clip a joke, copy a riddle, or save a clever article. Your gift will say, “I love to see you laugh.”
► 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 prayer.
Don’t forget one of the most immaterial yet most valuable gifts you can give: the gift of prayer. Pray for the people on your holiday shopping list … as well as your friends, family members, coworkers, and customers. And if it feels appropriate, you can even 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.”
Each of these Grinch-approved gifts will strengthen your relationships, on and off the job. Guaranteed. All you have to do is to decide which ones you’re going to give.