Say What You Think

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35


When I was younger, we would always give my mom a hard time about making friends everywhere she went.  She would infamously strike up a conversation with any checkout person, grocery-bagger, or store attendant who would listen and we would roll our eyes and move on.  However, as I have gotten older, I have noticed something; when my mom engaged with these individuals, their mood visibly brightens and you can see that it is meaningful to them, even if just sharing a few words.  My husband is also an amazing example of someone who has the miraculous ability to engage with anyone he meets, making them feel loved and highly valued. I got a good one y’all.

It is so easy to go about our busy days and zoom through the checkout line while scrolling through our to-do lists in our heads or *gasp* on our phones while someone serves us by ringing up our many “needed” items at Target (raise your hand if you can relate) without us ever thinking to ask them about their day or what is going on in their life.  Now, for those of you that are reading this thinking “you want me to get in a deep conversation with everyone I come in contact with?? *cue cold sweats and rapid breathing*”, calm down.  This is just an encouragement to be more intentional in our interactions with others that we do not know to be less “me-centered” in our daily lives.

Admittedly, the apple does not fall far from the tree and I have always found it a bit easier to engage in conversations with complete strangers. Thanks Mom.  It also helps that I am an extrovert and am used to asking others questions about their lives as a counselor.  Still, it is a struggle if I am just not in the mood to talk or the other person is being rude or seems like talking is the last thing in the world they would like to do.  For all of us, extroverts and introverts alike, when it’s easy or not, here a few simple tips in how to be more intentional when interacting with strangers–

  1. Say What You Think: A few years ago, I told a girl at the checkout counter that she had really beautiful eyes.  I felt so awkward saying this but I just felt the urge to compliment her and felt like she needed to hear it.  I really truly feel like God can move in us in these moments to help brighten someone’s day in really practical ways. When I said it, she actually teared up and said she had a really crappy day so far and that really made her afternoon. I was blown away.  How in the world could a little comment/compliment make such a difference? Now, anytime I think something like “I love her hair, that’s such a great outfit, they have a nice smile, they were so helpful and kind/had such good customer service, etc.”, I SAY IT. Honestly, it has never gone poorly in my experience.  The other person is always positively affected and it is just the best.
  2. Bag the Groceries: If there is no one there to bag groceries, or even if there is, lend a hand.  At Trader Joe’s there is rarely a person actually manning the bagging area so I will chat and bag at the same time.  It never fails, the checkout person is always taken aback and thanks me for helping saying, “that never happens”.  It feels good to know that I was able to help them in a practical way and show them kindness. **this is a great option for those of you that might not be comfortable getting into an actual conversation just yet.**
  3. Ask them…: It’s normal for all of us to say the obligatory “hey, how are you?” when coming across another person but do you ever think to actually ask more?  I will always say “So, how is your day?/How much longer do you have on your shift?/Has it been busy/stressful today/Have any plans for the weekend?”.  Asking these separate questions instead of just “how are you?” signals to the other person that you are actually making an effort to really understand how they are doing and being intentional in asking.
  4. Call them by name: Yep, just what it says…This is something my husband always does and I don’t remember to do enough and it always makes an impression.  When we leave he will always say to the waiter, checkout person, etc. “Thanks so much {name here}, we appreciate it” or “Have a good night, {name here}”. So simple but so intentional. I work part-time in retail and have worked in many retail positions in the past.  Anytime someone refers to me by name, which is very rare, it makes me feel seen in such a small but significant way.

We have no idea what others are going through and you may run into people who will not engage back when trying these simple tips above but it never hurts to try.  You could be the one person in someone’s day that really truly cares and brings a smile to their face.  Just think, if more of us did this on a regular basis, how much more kindness could we spread to those that need it?

Do you have ways that you are already intentional with others? Please share in the comments below!

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