Resist the urge to lecture someone who’s just done something really stupid. Instead, say that we all make silly mistakes and tell them about one that you’d made. This will alleviate some of the strain they’re feeling (which may be the reason for the mistake in the first place). Remember that they’re already feeling rotten about themselves. Whatever you say will only make them feel worse and give them a very negative impression of you. Instead, a relaxed attitude on your part may be the only positive thing to happen to them on that particular day.
If you know that a colleague always takes the bus (or their car has broken down) offer them a lift home or to work on a rainy/snowy day. Your kindness could be the only reason they don’t arrive late, cold or wet.
If a spouse or a friend goes away on a business trip and has a presentation to make about which he/she is really nervous, send an encouraging card (or a fax) to the hotel highlighting past successes, which will go a long way towards building up their confidence in their abilities.
Send a song request to someone you care about on their favourite radio programme, especially if you know they’re having a difficult day. This is certain to put a smile on their face.
How we look makes us feel better about ourselves (it shouldn't, but it does). If someone you care about is feeling a bit down or has just recovered from a lengthy illness, give him/her a gift certificate for a new hair style or make over. It doesn’t have to be expensive because a new hair colour, a hot towel shave or new nails, can go a long way to bringing joy to someone’s day and taking their mind off their worries.
Invite a friend out, or over to your house to watch a film and share dinner if you know that their spouse has been away and they’re a bit lonesome.
Rent or buy a DVD for a friend you know who loves to watch movies, but has been working hard lately and hasn’t been able to go to the cinema.
If you know someone who’s just moved away for work or college, take pictures of their friends, their old hang-outs, and the local area around where they used to live and send it to them. This will bring a happy tear to their eyes and make them feel less homesick. If it’s possible, get random people like their favourite waitress, their old Sunday school teacher, or someone they once fancied to sign some of the pictures.
When your mother-in-law comes to visit there are a few things you can do to make her day, A. Take her shopping. B. Take her for coffee/tea and take along some recent pictures you’ve taken of the family for something cheerful to talk about. C. Suggest that your spouse, her daughter/son, takes her out to dinner where it’s just the two of them like old times. Not only will this make her day, but it will show any reasonable thinking person that you’re fun to be around, and that you’ve made thoughtful inputs on her behalf. Even if she doesn’t like you very much, spending time with you and enjoying something you both have in common (the family) will begin to create positive thoughts about you.
For her journey back (as long as she’s not driving) get her something you know she’ll enjoy to read. Bake/buy her a cake to take back, or simply pay for a takeaway for her so she won’t have to cook after she gets home tired from her trip. This takes effort, I know, but a little extra work goes a long way towards building up or maintaining one of your most important relationships.
You can see related posts on our Relationship With Family and Friends page.