Someone posed an intriguing question to me recently. They asked me “how to make someone’s day in ten minutes.”
When I say “emotional rescue,” it sounds like there’s a crisis happening. Certainly, it’s a given that if someone is freaking out or having a meltdown, they might need some attention from you. But that’s not what I’m referring to here.
I’m actually referring to something more subtle – the little things people say and do that indicate that may be needing something at this time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of our lives, and overlook these subtle cues from people. But they’re there, aren’t they? Noticing others, relating and being there for each other, is what life is really all about.
When we overlook the little things – the courtesy, the attention, and respect that other people deserve from us – this leads to bigger things. Maybe it seems like life is fine, we have our friends, our stuff, and all is well. But is it really?
Many people today have turned to drugs and therapy to alleviate whatever pain or emptiness they’re experiencing. When doctors offer us prescriptions to help shake feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, swinging moods, anger, and other imbalance… this somehow validates our issues, wouldn’t you say? Being handed a bottle of pills confirms what we’re feeling is real.
But what if we also believed that the source of unhappiness, is not only real, but curable in a very real, natural, and human way? Real, meaning through our own reality – the people who we come into contact and connect with. The friendships and relationships we cultivate.
Every human being has emotional needs. The actual need may vary depending on the person, the circumstance, and your role in their life. The intensity will vary as well. But if there is one thing that we all crave these days, but maybe we’re not getting so much of as we did in the past… it’s emotional validation and support.
Who can you rescue emotionally, in just ten minutes?
- Your coworker who is about to lose it.
- Your boss, who isn’t getting validation from HIS boss.
- Your son or daughter who has a project to show you, a story to share, or a problem to solve.
- Your wife or husband, who can really use a laugh today.
- Your friend who’s feeling lonely in an unfamiliar city.
- Your new neighbor, who just wants to fit in and make a few friends.
How can you pick up on another person’s emotional state, and/or needs?
Slow down. Put down the pen, drop the cell phone, turn away from the computer. Offer your undivided attention.
Make contact. If you’re in the same room, meet their gaze – or touch, if it’s appropriate. Talking on email? Consider calling the person – a voice on the phone is just more personal.
Listen. Not just with your ears, but tune in with all of your senses and your mind. Now what are you picking up?
Observe. What body language do they display? Eyes, facial expressions and gestures can reveal a very different message than what the words are saying.
Dig deeper. You’ve picked up a message – now figure out the motive or reason behind the message. Look for the hidden need or unmet emotion. What is this person really hoping for?
Don’t make it about you. Coming to another person’s rescue means really and truly making it about them. It’s their deal – and if we falsely determine it must be about us, we can become defensive, or self-occupied. It’s not physically possible to give and take at the same time. Make this a giving situation – because someone else needs it of you right now.
What kind of emotional rescue can you offer in just ten short minutes?
- A sympathetic ear.
- A phone call that tells someone, “You’re in my thoughts. I want to hear your voice.”
- An “atta boy” or congratulations on a job well done.
- A perspective, and a bit of sage advice.
- A shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold.
- Relief – maybe there’s a heated situation that you can “sub” on for a bit.
- Support – physical (helping out with a task), or emotional (being there for someone).
Everyone, even those with the thickest skin and hardest noses among us, needs an emotional rescue now and then. And if it’s someone who gives you the distinct impression that they’ve got it together, all the time… then they’re probably in dire need of emotional assistance.
Who can you rescue today?