Last Sunday, my family gathered to celebrate my Dad’s 89th birthday. Some of the standout moments of the day were my four-year-old nephew greeting everyone with “Thank you for coming—do you want to play with me?” and my two-year-old niece gleefully offering to share her somewhat soggy graham crackers with anyone within a two-foot vicinity. It got me thinking about gift giving and what’s really important. Here are four simple and powerful gifts we can give each other:
Accept. Accept a compliment rather than turning it away. Accept love in all its glorious forms. Accept feedback as simple information. Accept the soggy graham cracker. Take what is offered with a smile and a little love in your heart. You are worth it!
Listen. Really listen deeply to what is being said—and to what goes unsaid. Go beyond “How are you?” to actually listen to how your colleagues and friends are doing. It means staying focused on the other person in spite of deadlines, ringing phones, and other interruptions. It also means letting go of what you want to say in return, and letting go of judgment about what you hear. Just open the ears and shut the mouth. That’s it.
Believe in others. Little kids have it right. They BELIEVE. You can too. Believe in the best of others. Believe that your friends, colleagues, and complete strangers can achieve their dreams, have their best life ever, meet the perfect partner, lose the last ten pounds, get the promotion, or simply make a needed change. Your belief, bone deep, that others CAN achieve their goals will help them believe it, too.
Play. My nephew knows the value of play. For him, it means time and interaction with his family. He doesn’t care who wins because he celebrates it all. He doesn’t care if the dishes are done, or the reports are written—and yes, those do need to get done—but he knows it’s important to have some fun, too. When was the last time you simply played? Coloring, football, Monopoly, or our family favorite, “Guess Who?” Making time to play will bring a smile to your face.
Each of these gifts are rich in value and amazing in how they make us feel. They aren’t hard on the wallet and they don’t require hours of wrapping with paper, tape, and bows.
Let me end with a simple “Thank you for coming” and taking the time to read this blog.
About the Author
Patricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.
7 thoughts on “Four Gifts We Can Give Each Other: A Coaching Perspective”
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Dear Patricia; Your 4 gifts are wonderfully positive and everyone should strive to give them often. I’d like to take a minute to write about the negative side of each. I’m not purposefully trying to cast a negative light on your post but to ignore the reality that each has a negative side would limit the incredible value of extending these gifts to others.
Accept: While accepting others is important we should realize that we too need to feel and be accepted by others. Often our personal need for acceptance and the coldness of not being included in part of a larger purpose is debilitating and the gateway to frustration, depression or anger. Often our acts of acceptance are learned from the others accepting us. A history of rejection can limit our ability to be accepting of others. Be conscious of how you treat others and work to be the one who extends grace, mercy and love towards others. It will ensure that those around you learn from your example. Equally be aware that some people have difficulty and histories that make them shy from such behaviors. Some simply may not have the gift to give.
Listen: Listening is a reciprocating act. Extending the gift of listening to those who are closed off is a painful thing. To repeatedly offer ideas and feedback to those who reject or ignore it causes us to shut down and damages our self-worth and self-esteem. The result is crippling confidence and limited engagement. If you know of someone who seldom engages or holds back it is quite possible that they’ve had experiences with nobody listening. Give them extra attention and get to know their history, experience and capabilities in a personal and attentive way. As you see them open up you can coach them on how to offer the gift of listening to others.
Believe in others: To believe in others we must believe in ourselves. By believing in others we are projecting our confidence onto another person. Too often those we meet have experienced the opposite of someone believing in them. The results range from distancing to distrust. To do this right – when you purposely chose to believe in others – you must do so with blind trust and the ability to support failure and missed expectations. To someone who has experienced non-belief it’s scary to accept another persons blind faith/belief. If you find someone who consistently needs structure and instruction it’s quite possible they’ve been the victim of non-believers projecting a lack of trust onto them. Guide them with care and show your belief through mentoring and coaching.
Play: Healthy play is the product of a healthy environment. Those who’ve never experienced acceptance, have not been listened to or have not had other believe in them will be reluctant to engage in what might be seen as play. They are protecting themselves from further disappointment. As with all of the above when you find an individual who is often separated from the herd and hesitant to be fully associated don’t do what the average person does and write them off. Get to know them first. To paraphrase Andrew Carnegie – Greatness is uncovered by first moving a lot of dirt. Those who fail to get dirty will never uncover the gold.
Accept people for who they are. Listen to their stories of difficulty. Believe in them for who they are right where they are today. Play in such a way that everybody wins this complicated game we call life.
Hi Jeff, Thank you for your thoughtful response. I don’t believe your perspective is negative. Regarding your comments on acceptance – yes this is exactly what I mean. The idea is to simply be and simply accept without judgment. Everyone has a varying level of capacity for this. In fact there are days when I can be incredibly accepting and others when I’m a bit more closed. It is something that takes practice and attention.
Regarding listening – offering ideas and feedback are not listening. They can come hand in hand with the act of listening, which is to take in, not to put forth. I do not recommend giving ideas or feedback to those who do not want or need, or are not ready to receive such things. In fact both actions can be counterproductive to deep listening and should be separated from the act of listening. If one is thinking about giving feedback, then the focus becomes “what will I say in response to what I’ve heard” rather than simply hearing what others are expressing. We don’t owe a response when listening.
Regarding believing in others I agree with your comments and would add that sometimes we need to be the person who believes, when the other person cannot. It is more powerful to believe in someone, really and truly than to not. That power is what I hoped to convey.
Finally, regarding play. I believe that as adult humans we often miss the opportunity to play and to have fun. It is all around us and we fail to recognize it. For example, when was the last time you rode on the handle of the grocery cart, careening through the parking lot at speed? I may be middle aged and I probably look pretty silly doing it, but it brings me joy and it’s something I can do regardless of whether or not I engage with others. My hope is that we give ourselves permission to play in all the different (and yes, healthy) ways humans can do so. It took my 4 year old nephew to remind me of that!
Thank you again for your comments.
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