Sidney C. Walker
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December 2009

The Greatest Gift You Can Give...
by Sidney C. Walker


What is the gift that people really want? Most of us tend to think in terms of what "thing" can I get for someone. There is a long tradition of giving and receiving "things" this time of year. But the part that makes the gift have real meaning is that it came from you. Your relationship with others... your caring, love, admiration, gratitude, honor, respect, etc. is what people want to feel the most. The gifts can be nice, but the most important part is the feeling behind the gift.


There is another feeling that people long to experience that could also be considered more important than the gift and just as important as the feeling behind the gift. It is your presence (no pun intended). By presence, I am referring to the attention you give people when you are with them. This attention is usually given in the form of listening, making conversation, or doing things together. You actually donít have to be in the same physical location for people to experience your presence. For example, you can feel the other personís presence talking on the telephone. We all cherish and look forward to the experience of being with the people we love and care about in whatever form it takes, especially this time of year.


The people you are close to want to experience that you care about them, that you love them. They want to feel you listening to them while they talk about whatever is on their mind. They want you to respond, but not take too long! They want to feel like you heard what they had to say. They want to feel understood. You donít have to agree with what they said, they just want you to hear their perspective. People in general are starving to be listened to by someone who is really listening, not someone who is pretending to listen while they are thinking of what they are going to say next!


So if you want to be a really big hit this Holiday Season with those who are close to you, and with anyone else for that matter. Practice giving people the gift of your presence which is your attention, your kindness (love), and your understanding.


Go out of your way to sincerely compliment people. Encourage people to talk by asking them sincere questions about anything. Listen longer before you speak. Listen without feeling like you have to have an opinion. Just smile and say, "I hear you!" You will marvel at the way people will respond to you! (And, how much better you get along with tricky relatives if you skip the temptation to give your opinion on the topic at hand.)


If you are up for the rush of something with a little more challenge, make an effort to get out of your comfort zone. Help someone do something you would not normally do. Help someone you would not normally help. Do something outrageously generous with no expectation of return. All these actions will make other people feel great and there is a big bonus for you. You guessed it... you are going to feel great too!


Enjoying our experiences with other people is what makes us happy at the deepest level. Letís all be the creative instigators of some wonderful, heart-felt experiences this Holiday Season. Letís create some stories people can fondly reminisce about next year!


Have a productive year end and peaceful Holidays,

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