Hearts. Flowers. Candy. Romantic dinners over candlelight. These are the symbols we typically associate with Valentine’s Day.
But building and maintaining relationships requires more than a card and a bouquet of flowers. Relationships thrive when everyone involved feels important and valued. When somebody takes the time to express appreciation, our spirits are boosted.
Showing appreciation may come second-nature as we reach out to our romantic interests, our friends and family members. But we should extend this sentiment to those people we love to work with – our clients and customers.
With a bit of consideration and thoughtfulness, anyone can create good will and a bond that goes well beyond a project or a paycheck.
And the beauty of heart-felt appreciation? It can be shown on any day of the year.
We find that people constantly share clues about things they need or want, something they love or want to do. Our job is to pay attention.
In meetings, does someone always drink flavored water or diet Coke? Do they crack jokes about their love of chocolate or mention the yoga class they go to every Thursday night?
In a professional setting most of the conversation will circulate around a project. But don’t be afraid to pay attention to the personal side of life, too. Go ahead and share your own personal (and always appropriate!) details first. Some people need to hear from others before they share.
Above all, be kind.
One afternoon we had a brief phone call with a client who shared that she had worked through lunch. We also knew that the remainder of this person’s day was packed with meetings and obligations. So, we decided to order lunch and have it delivered to her.
It was fun playing “secret cupid” even though she eventually figured out it was us.
Do the Unexpected
We are big believers in surprising people. If most people expect gifts around Christmas, consider sending your company gift at a different time of year. It’s common to write thank-you notes after the completion of a big project, but maybe you do it when the project’s in the murky middle.
One of our contractors recently started her own business. She struggled with what to name it, but had shared a couple of ideas with us. One of the names, Whistle Editorial, struck Anita right away. So when she found a whistle necklace on Etsy, she purchased it and waited for the perfect time to deliver it.
Good thing the name stuck!
Hand Write a Note
It’s relatively easy to “like” a post on Facebook or Twitter. Email is handy. But nothing replaces the time it takes to grab an actual pen and write a short note on paper (gasp!). We know, it can be a hassle to find an address and attach a stamp, but in today’s tech-heavy world there’s still a soft spot in our hearts for a handwritten note. Say “thanks” or “thinking of you” or just share the latest reason you enjoy working with this person.
Give a Compliment
Your mom was on to something when she told you that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it all. We like to give that phrase a new spin. If you have something nice to say, say it – loudly! Whether it’s through a note or a verbal “hooray!” be specific about what you like about a person or their contribution. Instead of a generic “I enjoy working with you” message, you can shine a light on how a client’s gentle honesty inspires you or how someone’s organizational skills really helped keep the project on task.
Keep an eye on social media channels and use those ears (see earlier tip). When someone posts about a job promotion, send them a note. When someone mentions they’re meeting their goal to exercise four times a week, congratulate them. It doesn’t matter how big the achievement is, those endorphins flow when other people celebrate our successes.
When Anita’s grandma found an article in the newspaper that she thought a family member or friend might enjoy, she’d pull out her well-worn scissors, clip the article and mail it. Today, it’s easy to share an article or blog that someone might find interesting or is pertinent to their work. Email it. Post it on their social media channels. Include a short note about why you think they might like it.
Introduce your clients and customers to other people you work with. By taking the time to connect two people, you send the message that you have great respect and admiration for both parties. People will automatically feel valued and important – and that’s the best feeling you can leave with any of your professional relationships.
Your partners in leadership.