“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
—Novelist and theologian, Carl Frederick Buechner
When I was on my first marathon date with my now-husband, Gustavo, I don’t remember exactly what we talked about for seven hours straight. But I remember how I felt while we talked: Listened to. Liked. Respected. Funny. And the more I think about it, that, for all of us, is the most important part of every interaction. Not necessarily the words we use, but the feelings that come with them. Whether it’s a romantic connection, a friendly chat, or a business meeting, feelings matter.
When we talk to others, it’s so easy to get caught up in how we think we sound, right? You know, that little voice that may be wondering, “Do I seem smart enough?” “Am I giving the right advice?” “Nailing the answers in an interview?” “Saying the most charming thing?” But it’s not that we say and do all the right things that matters. It’s how we feel in one another’s presence. Knowing this, make others feel valued and special and good around you. Feelings matter. To us and to others. So that’s what this happiness-how to is all about.
Try this: The next time you get self-conscious about whether you look right, walk right, talk right, remember it’s not just about the words! Smile when you talk to someone. Use their name. Greet them warmly. Ask them about themselves. Really listen. Try to understand. And tune into how you’re feeling so you can truly be present in the moment. When others feel warm, valued and comfortable in your presence, they’ll want to be around you more. So during your next date, meeting, job interview or catch-up lunch with a friend, forget the words for a minute and focus on the feelings.
Buechner is right: They will never forget how you made them feel. Make others feel calm, happy and good around you, and you’ll find you better about yourself, too.