I had never cared much for the expression, “be a blessing” to someone, but now it is all I think about. It pops into my head at random daily moments, such as when the kid who bags my groceries tells me to have a nice day. At first, I am tempted to give a quick closed-mouth smile or a cursory, “you too.” Something clicks, and it occurs to me that I need make an effort to be earnest in that moment. So I work up my most genuine smile, make eye contact, and tell him that I hope he has a super day, as well. My previous automatic response and my new heart-felt one seem the same on the surface, but I feel strangely better knowing that I’ve tried to jam all of the sincerity I can corral and place it on a platter in front of a stranger I may never see again. In doing so, the “be a blessing” phrase pops in my head, and a new habit slowly forms.
Now that this habit is taking root, it is shocking to see how many similar opportunities bubble to the surface, and how pleased I am to try to rise to the challenge. It forces me to “be in the moment”- another phrase I am reconsidering- because in order to be a blessing to someone, you have to be conscious and focus. You cannot be a bright spot in a fellow human being’s day if you are distracted. Grumpy moods also fall away with a genuine desire to be kind.
Kindness is at the heart of being a blessing, and it really is easier than I thought to simply make an effort. We all could surely use more niceness in our lives, with so much stress tossed at us from all angles. Holding doors open, tipping a little more generously, offering compliments, remembering to ask about a co-worker’s sick mom, buying someone a biscuit in the morning: all of these gestures only require me to briefly stop thinking about myself and let the other person’s happiness take priority. The more I serve others, the more I acquiesce to the tenet that it is an honor to do so. I’m thinking of tweaking my personal mission statement.
This new mindset came about in a strange way: at the end of an employee interview. I was screening someone for a position in our sales department, a tall female in a tight black skirt and a silky, tan, low-cut, sleeveless blouse. From the moment I saw her, I did not want to like her. I knew that my boss would be displeased at her presentation style, with her painted talon-length fingernails, artificial hair color and distracting false eyelashes. I was immediately exhausted at the prospect of having to coach another female on how to dress in a more “Lexus-like, conservative business attire”, only to find that they never truly convert to our culture’s severely subdued fashion requirements.
My superficial judgments waned as the conversation with the talon-fingered candidate progressed, because I couldn’t help but admire her devotion to a point of view based on integrity. She simply wanted to work at a place where she would be encouraged to offer remarkable customer service. She was striving to succeed in a professional environment where everyone subscribes to the ethics of honest selling. She looked me in the eyes and she listened to everything I said. I was beginning to overlook the fashion blunders.
I was also slightly endeared to her because she was nervous. If she seemed slightly fidgety during the interview, she was downright rattled by the end. It was as if she fell in love with the job after hearing details about the dealership, and the significance of our dialogue increased exponentially with each passing minute. As I left her in the care of another manager, she effused gratitude at what she called my “great kindness”. She made it seem that I had done something beyond just ask some questions about her skills, that I had perhaps given her some life-changing gift.
The only gift I had given her was complete honesty in the interview, sharing everything that mattered in that moment. I told her what is impressive about our dealership, and what is challenging. I gave her a glimpse of what she could expect from me if things proceeded to the next level; I told her my strengths and weaknesses. I let her know that the talons would likely need trimming, and conveyed the pressures that come with working in a luxury environment. I said that I expected her to take ownership of mistakes, and promised that I would do likewise. Her gratitude for this honesty took me my surprise. I have been this frank with candidates in the past, and they always received the information as commonplace. At the end of this conversation, though, I walked away feeling that I had been a blessing to her. She nervously expected a difficult interview, and instead experienced a straightforward dialogue.
The thing about being a blessing to someone, however, is that both parties receive happiness. I walked away from that interview with a new inspiration that has stayed with me ever since. Others smile more brightly at me when I give them my sincere cheerfulness, and I become increasingly addicted to the high of being a blessing to…well, anyone. Friends, family, coworkers, customers, store clerks and servers are all candidates for my new-found mission. Mind you, I am not taking on a new personality, and realize the limits that my serious disposition pose in the face of this new approach. The outgoing perky gene is just not in my DNA. But if small tokens of goodwill are all that is required to being a blessing to others, and it feels this good to do it, that is a habit worth embracing.