Offering random acts of verbal kindness are tiny, yet powerful, ways to do something enormously kind for those you know and even for total strangers. Many of these verbal exchanges can have a profound and lasting effect on the person you engage. Has a stranger every approach you and made a lovely comment about your hairstyle or the new coat you're so proud of? It made you feel like a million bucks, didn't it? It put a bounce in your step that lasted all day. Recently, I was stopped by a stranger, a small brown toad on his way to work. Out of the clear blue, he told me that I was an exceptionally handsome shade of green. I was, well, gobsmacked! I stopped dead in my tracks, turned to be sure the toad was speaking to me, then flashed him a BIG smile and said, Thanks, friend! You've made my day." The toad tipped his hat and continued hopping. This seemingly simple compliment, changed the way I looked at myself. It was an awesome gift!
Just in case you need a little help finding things to say, here are a few random acts of verbal kindness that you can try out over the coming holidays.
1. "Take your time, I'm in no rush." Can you even imagine how wonderful this gift would be to, say, the mom with three fidgety kiddos standing in the check-out line just ahead of you? Or, perhaps, the older person who's having a little trouble collecting themselves at the always-busy local restaurant. Everyone's in a hurry all the time and knowing that you can take an extra couple of minutes to complete your business well, I dare, say, that would relieve a great deal of self-imposed stressed, wouldn't it?
2. "Three different sources have confirmed that you are generous, kind to animals, and funny!" I'm sure you've had this happen. You're at a social gathering and someone's name comes up. Then, all of a sudden, everyone starts talking about how wonderful this person (or frog) is. So, the next time you see this incredible species, go ahead and tell them that they are appreciated. It'll blow their mind...because you weren't saying those things to flatter her/him, or to "butter him up." You're only repeating what others have said...the facts as you heard them.
3. The way you smile lights up a room. (or eat a sandwich so elegantly, or sip tea with such finesse...) Commenting on a little habit that someone has, can stay with them forever. They may not even be aware of what they're doing. To them, it's just something they do, but after you mention this to them they'll fondly remember what you said every time they smile, drink tea, or eat a sandwich. It's a gift that keeps on giving.
4. "I saw what you did...and please don't think me crazy, but it restored my faith in the human race." Of course you actually have to have witnessed the "act" and legitimately feel some sense of hope for the future, but saying this to the person who held the door for the veteran in a wheelchair, or helped an elderly person to their car with their loaded-down shopping bags...can actually make you believe that the human species hasn't completely hit rock bottom. There are loads of very good apples still left in the barrel. When you find one, let them know you think they're awesome.
5. "That's awful!" Simply saying that, and not asking a bunch of probing questions, after a friend tells you about an unpleasant/sad/scary incident, can be a wonderful gift. Often, we just need to "unburden" ourselves and know that someone heard us. And feels our pain. We don't always want, or need, to elaborate on the gruesome details....
6. Most of us don't particularly like the way we talk. We think we're too "pitchy" or loud, or our tone is grating to ear. If you don't agree with me, try saying, "I love the sound of your voice," to three people and watch what happens!
I could go on and on...there are a million silly, kind, simple, wonderful compliments we can offer to those we love, as well as to the many strangers we encounter every day. Spread some holiday cheer this season. Spread a little love and give someone a warm inner glow that'll mean more to them than you'll ever know. And it'll it'll cost you are a few kind words.