Knowing that we matter to someone else is a need we all share, and it brings a sense that we are valued, loved, known, included and wanted. However, sometimes it’s hard to let others know just how important they are to us.
Tami Schow, a licensed professional counselor-intern, with Planting Seeds Christian Counseling, offered a few tips on how we can improve our relationships by letting others know how much they really matter to us.
Greet people with smile. If your face lights up when they enter a room, they know they matter to you.
Say “goodbye” when they leave or “goodnight” before going to sleep. This simple act lets the person know that the time that was spent together was special and their absence will be noticed.
Check in with them during times apart. For a spouse or child, this may be a call in the middle of the day. For a friend or extended relative, it might be a phone call once a week or month to say “Hey, just checking up on you to see what’s happening in your life.” Calling only when you need something sends the message that their importance to you is only for what they can do for you. Calling with no agenda communicates that their relationship is important to you.
Remove any distractions and make eye contact when talking to someone. This may mean stopping whatever activity you are engaged in to give your full attention to the other person, particularly the use of your electronic device. We live in a world that values multi-tasking (and electronic devices). However, there are times when we long to know that we are the most important activity of that moment.
Validate the other person’s perspective and emotions. You may not agree with their point of view or have the same emotional response, but you can indicate to them that you understand how they might have that reaction. Just because their opinion or emotional reaction does not line up with yours does not mean that it is wrong, it’s just a different perspective.
Accept their influence. Knowing that we have made a positive impact on someone’s life is powerful. Allowing the important people in your life to offer advice or share their experience with you sends the message that you value their contribution to your life. This doesn’t mean that you follow everything they tell you to do. However, you can listen to their input, take in what represents your values and discard what doesn’t.
Be grateful for what they do, what they give, who they are; even those parts that you don’t necessarily find enjoyable. I’m reminded of the story of the child being told to write a thank you note to grandma for the ugly sweater she gave him for his birthday. The child objected because he was not thankful for the sweater; he wanted a toy truck. Mom’s gentle reply, “That may be true, but you are thankful for grandma.”
If you are longing to matter and have these sentiments reciprocated, know that these acts are contagious and apt to bounce back to you as you create an environment rich in demonstrating that other people matter to you.