I recently met with a friend who is a business owner. We are both passionate about leadership and about helping people to achieve their potential. During our conversation we both come to agree that a lot of leaders, although they have no difficulty running a successful business and earning money, they tend to struggle with their personal lives. Although this is true for both men and women, I believe that men needed more help in this area.
This week, I will begin by writing about being a sweet person. What does it mean when someone says something sweet or do something sweet?
Whether you have a spouse, or are in a relationship, or a single man or woman, you could never go wrong with saying or doing something sweet. How often have you heard someone said, “Aww, that’s so sweet.” or “That’s such a sweet thing to say.”?
As a male, I used to find myself bewildered and confused whenever someone mentioned those lines. I shouldn’t be surprised though. The word itself is not registered with the relevant meaning in the dictionary. It is, however, defined somewhat, in the Urban Dictionary.
After learning to observe others and fortunately, having done a few sweet things to others, albeit by accident at times, I was able to understand how to be a sweet person.
Here is what I have learned:
1. It is about doing something surprising, in a positive way.
In my relationship with my girlfriend, we both like to give each other surprises. Those surprises range from big surprises like suddenly appearing at her doorsteps to small surprises like just saying, “I Love You” in different ways. Some may think that they have to come up with “big” surprises with expensive gifts or elaborate planning, yet I believe that the most important element in the surprise is that it comes from the heart. The key is to be constantly on the lookout for a chance to bring a positive difference in someone’s life.
2. It is about noticing the small details.
I have often seen in TV shows and sometimes, in the life of my parents or my mentors of how noticing small details can go a long way. What kind of details do you notice? Did you notice when a female friend changes her haircut, or when she changes her nail polish or when she wears a new lipstick, or new accessories? This will prove to be an uphill battle for most men. I am a naturally observant person and even I find myself struggling to do this. Sometimes however, it is not only about their appearance. Tell them how much you appreciate what they have done, no matter how insignificant it may seem. It is also helpful to notice when someone is in need and to offer help without being asked. Learn to notice a person’s change in their mood and tactfully ask how you can be a friend.
3. It is about going out of your way to help.
I recently met with a high school friend to catch up and we were able to spend some time reminiscing about our school days. Although we both couldn’t remember how we met each other, she recounted a story that was still planted in her heart vividly.
It was a rainy day, and it was just a few hours after school has finished. I did not go home immediately. Instead I went to a nearby internet cafe with some of my friends and hung out there. One by one, my friends went home and I was also standing outside, waiting to go home, but I was unsure how since no one offered me a lift. As if prompted by a cue, you came out from the shop and offered me a lift home in your car. I still remember it to this day and that was why I was so excited to hear that you were back in town.
I have no recollection whatsoever of this particular incident, yet she remembered it clearly as if it was yesteday. To that end, I drew a conclusion that a little kind gesture goes a long way in touching someone’s heart. I did not know her that well at the time, yet because I made an intentional effort to help, she remembered it to this day.
4. It is about giving a compliment from the heart.
Giving a compliment is not an easy habit to commit ourselves into. This is because we have been trained to be critical in our dealings with people. We prefer pointing out defects than elevating good features. We excuse such habits by saying that we are being honest and not being hypocrite. I have learned however that it is possible to give an honest and heartfelt appreciation without being fake. It requires practice, however. I have realised that what we need to change is not so much our circumstances but rather our belief system.
By changing our mindset about how we see things and learning to appreciate their beauty, our attitude towards life will be more positive. Having said that, I believe it is important to also make an intentional effort to voice that compliment out. I have, more often than not, listened to conversations where someone maintained that it is unnecessary to compliment something beautiful or a positive behaviour. I wholeheartedly disagree with that! I believe that a positive behaviour and a beautiful appearance require ample encouragement in order for it to grow and to be nurtured.
5. It is about going out of your comfort zone.
Everyone of us have something that we disliked doing. For men, you might find shopping boring. We tend to make excuses when asked to do the dishes. We thought its unmanly to change a babies’ nappies. For women, you might dislike going to sports games, and being surrounded by loud smelly men. Perhaps you fail to find the amusement in driving around in beautiful sports cars. You might find that some sports were unattractive. Despite your resentment however, your closest friend or spouse will appreciate it to no end when you decide to get out of your comfort zone and do something to add value and to make a positive change in their life.
Discussion Questions: What do you think? Did you have anything to add to the list? What have you said recently that prompted someone to call you sweet? Did you do anything sweet recently?