“Be the person that makes others feel special. Be known for your kindness and grace.” ~Unknown
There is someone in my life that has an extraordinary talent for making people feel special. I would call him out by name, but he’s a fairly private person, so we’ll just call him “E.”
It’s not that E makes people feel that they are somehow greater than others. He recognizes what’s special about everyone he encounters, and through his attention, kindness, and generosity, brings out the best in them.
He doesn’t do this through grand gestures, and not with expectations of receiving anything specific in return.
He does it because he enjoys making people feel good, and because he sees the good in them, he knows that they deserve it.
In a world where it’s easy to focus on ourselves—our goals, our desires, and our plans—there’s something inspiring and, well, downright special about anyone who makes it a priority to truly see and acknowledge the people around them.
I haven’t always done this well. Sometimes I’ve been too self-involved to shift my focus outside myself.
But with help from some special people who’ve seen the best in me, I now know that every day—no, every moment—I have a new opportunity to do the same for someone else. And you do too.
How do you make someone feel special?
1. Stop what you’re doing and look directly into their eyes when they’re talking.
2. Make a note of their likes and preferences so you can recommend joint activities you know they'll enjoy.
3. Recognize when they’re feeling down on themselves and say, “I think you’re awesome, and I hope you know it!”
4. Compliment them on their appearance, especially if it’s something others might not recognize (like a small weight loss).
5. Praise them for a job well done—especially if it’s a tiny victory that others might not think to acknowledge.
6. Let them know what you find interesting, rare, or admirable about them.
7. Take an interest in their hobbies and passions, and give them a chance to light up in sharing why they enjoy them.
8. Compliment them on their skills as a parent or their thoughtfulness as a son, daughter, brother, or sister.
9. Start a conversation with, “It’s really amazing how you…”
10. Say, “I want you to know you make a difference in my life. Thank you for being you.”
11. Tell them you believe they can achieve their dream—and why.
12. If they don’t have a clear dream, recognize and acknowledge their skills and talents.
13. Ask them questions to help them uncover how they can leverage their strengths to make a difference in the world.
14. Encourage them to go for something they want but are scared to pursue.
15. Comfort them after a failure or misstep and let them know it isn’t representative of who they are or what they’re capable of.
16. Ask them to teach you how to do something to reinforce that this is something they excel at.
17. Offer to teach them something you know they’ve wanted to try, and let them know why you think they’d be good at this.
18. Give them something to help them get started on their dream—like a journal for an aspiring writer, or a design book for someone interested in fashion.
19. Tell them you want to be the first one to buy their product or service when they inevitably start making a living off their passion.
20. Give them a hand-made card and write inside what you see in them.
21. Give your time—to listen, to support, or to just enjoy each other’s company.
22. Give them a job referral and say, “You’re the first person I thought of when I saw this—no one could do this job as well as you!”
23. Give an introduction to someone they’d enjoy knowing—and introduce them with a compliment (i.e.: This is my good friend Avery, who’s a fantastic chef and one of the funniest people I know).
24. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Instead of assuming they’ve done something thoughtful or insensitive, remember their goodness, and let them know.
25. Give them your approval—nod your head when they’re talking and commend their thoughts and ideas.
26. Give them space to work through thoughts and ideas out loud, even if you’re tempted to bring the conversation back to yourself.
27. Give them credit for something they were right about.
28. Give them the opportunity to shine in front of others when you’re tempted to dominate the conversation.
29. Give compassion when you’re tempted to judge, and let them know what you admire about the challenges they’ve overcome.
30. Give them your honest opinion and say, “I value you too much to tell you anything but the truth.”
31. Give them a hug when they’re feeling down, and hold it just a little longer than usual.
32. Give them a playful nudge when joking around to show you’re tight like that.
33. Literally pat them on the back when offering praise.
34. Squeeze their hand when they’re anxious.
35. Cuddle up to you partner instead of maintaining distance on the couch.
36. Offer to give a massage to someone you know would be comfortable receiving it.
37. Actually kiss someone on the cheek instead of giving an air kiss.
38. Hold hands with your partner when walking outside (or, if you have friends who enjoy holding hands, go for it!)
39. Sit comfortably close together to show you’re not avoiding physical connection at all costs.
30. If you know they don’t enjoy too much affection, give them a handshake when greeting them to show you understand and respect their preferences.
41. Share your fears with them to let them know you’re not afraid to be vulnerable with them.
42. Share your feelings with them and let them know you value their guidance and support.
43. Share your honest opinions instead of censoring yourself to show them you’re comfortable enough to be authentic with them.
44. Share your dreams with them and let them know you appreciate their advice and encouragement.
45. Share your resources with them—especially if they’re scarce—to show they’re worth the sacrifice.
46. Share something you cooked for them to show them they're worth the effort.
47. Share your spirituality with them, and invite them to join you in practicing yoga or going to church.
48. Share a secret with them to show them your trust.
49. Share something that will become an inside joke between just the two of you.
50. Share something you value with them to show them you value them more.
51. Invite them to join you in doing something important, like picking out something for your partner’s birthday.
52. Ask if you can help with something important they’re planning to do.
53. Plan a surprise event for them, either to celebrate a tiny victory or just because you care.
54. Invite them to something that will be a bonding experience, like a spa day or a sporting event.
55. Buy an extra ticket to something you know they’d enjoy, and offer it to them.
56. Ask them to join you in doing something regularly, like joining a bowling league, and let them know why it would be way more fun with them there.
57. Include them in a group event to show you consider them part of the gang.
58. Ask for their input in planning a group event to let them know you value their thoughts and ideas.
59. Devote a weekend day or night (or both) to spending time together instead of squeezing them in for a quick lunch.
60. When you’ve been busy, say, “I haven’t had much time lately, but I miss you! When can we get together and catch up?”
61. Invite them to sit around with you, just to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
62. Ask them if they’d like to enjoy the outdoors with you, whether that means lying in the beach in the summer, or drinking hot chocolate near a snow-covered window in the winter.
63. Ask them if they want company when they feel drained after a long week, to show you don’t need a formal plan to be there for and with them.
64. Offer to come over, while they’re home, so you can be an extra set of eyes to watch their kids.
65. Sit in comfortable silence instead of needing to fill the air to show you’re comfortable enough to do this.
66. Offer to stay with them when they're sick, just in case they need anything.
67. Invite them to join you in a technology free day—one without any distractions from simply being, together.
68. Ask them to share their favorite way to relax on a day off, and then ask if they want to do this together.
69. Invite them to join you in meditating. (If you don’t meditate, invite them to try it with you, at home or in a group environment.)
I left the last one intentionally blank for you to fill in. What do you do to make others feel special, and what makes you feel special when others do it for you?
Finger art image via Shutterstock