Always “Sweat the Small Stuff”

relationships-typesYou have probably heard the old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And when if comes to minor hassles in our daily lives- spilled milk, traffic on the way to work, a late bus- that couldn’t be more applicable. Even in our personal relationships it seems like a solid rule of thumb. Do you really need to worry about what is for dinner or who took out the garbage last?  It is far better to save your energy for the issues that have more significant repercussions.

However there is some “small stuff” in all types of relationships: love, friendship and business that shouldn’t be ignored or neglected.

A simple phone call from a friend to check in, a love note left of the kitchen counter or an employee that stays late to meet a deadline. We easily dismiss these behaviors as unimportant or even come to expect them, but they represent the intimacy, connection and respect we build in our relationships.

If you find yourself taking these small things for granted, it’s time to step back and take notice. When was the last time you thanked an employee for a job well done? Have you reminded your significant other of one of the many things that you love about him/her? Do you take time at the end of the day to read your kids a bedtime story?

“It is the simple things in life that mean the most, and it’s the simple things that will make the big things seems bigger.”

In business, there is a natural tendency to “think big”, but “thinking small” actually helps managers relate on a day to day basis with their employees. Employee surveys consistently show that the single most important factor in employee engagement is an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager. Emphasis is put on driving business, smooth operations, meeting deadlines and keeping budgets, but in order for a manager to successfully present these ideas and motivate to their employees, it comes own to moment-to-moment interactions. Ultimately this is what will determine how an employee feels about their supervisor. 

In love, we are always vying for the attention and connection from our partner. Dr. John Gottman, a well-respected scholar and clinician, has done extensive research on the demands for emotional involvement, which he labels as “bids for emotional connection”.  These include, bids for…

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Enthusiastic Engagement
  • Extended Conversation
  • Play
  • Humor
  • Affection
  • Emotional Support
  • Self- Disclosure

These are simple components of relationships and even friendships that often get pushed to the side, but we need to pay attention to each other’s needs and be present and fully participate in the relationships we have. It has been proven; that the more positive everyday interactions between partners, the better communication there is, the more likely they are to feel satisfied in their relationship and the less likely they are to feel lonely.

Here are a few “little things” that can be applied to any relationship to show you care.

Return Messages Quickly- this is simple and appreciated. Ignoring your employees messages or waiting a long time to respond, gives the impression that their questions or issues are not important. What if a friend is calling to give you exciting news and you don’t get back to them for a week? How do you think that person will feel? Being prompt in your responses shows how much you care, and in the grand scheme of things, is making a 5-minute phone really going to set you back that far in your schedule?

Express Appreciation- Never underestimate the power of a sincere, well-timed thank you. It is such a simple gesture that is often forgotten or neglected. We all like to hear that our efforts are appreciated, so be sure to let those around you know how they have been able to help you.

Be on Time- It is common courtesy, time is valuable, so be respectful of other’s time. Your spouse is expecting you for a family dinner they spent the afternoon preparing, be home when you say you will. Would you leave a client hanging for an important meeting, then why do that to your partner? At the office, being late to a meeting sends the message that your time is more valuable than your employees. You want the respect of your staff, right? It is that simple.

Take a Genuine Interest- In your employees. In your kid’s afterschool activities. In a close friends work promotion. Learn the details of the lives of those your surround yourself with. Honest interest and concern for things they have going will not go unnoticed and will be rewarded with loyalty.

Be There- this is as fundamental as it gets. You can’t manage effectively or build a relationship if you are not available, both physically and/or emotionally. We all want people in our lives that we can count on and trust. Making a conscious effort to be “available” will make you more approachable and warm.

So, yes, we really do need to sweat the small stuff, because the small stuff is important! Starting now, take the time to really show appreciation and love for the people in your life. Not only will you bring more joy to their lives, but relationships will become more fulfilling and bring more to your own life as well!


© 2013 Inspired Living, LLC

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Our blog features a series of interviews with some of the most visible and inspiring people world wide (ILTV) PLUS inspiration, business tips, and advice from Keri.