Two things, seemingly unrelated, happened today that really made me think.
The first was hearing a dear friend say, “I just need him to tell me he loves me.” I get that. I am one of those people who needs to hear how other people are feeling. So, if it is that easy to know that everyone, at some time or another, needs to be told, “I love you.” We simply need to feel loved, appreciated, and valued.
The other thing that happened was hearing a woman with whom we played golf tell me I was a good golfer. Just joking. That may not ever happen for me. I pretty much stink at golf. But, she did tell me, “I hope you keep working with teachers. They do so much good work and they need your help.” I almost cried. She is not a teacher but she has a dear friend who just retired after 30 years who has been diagnosed with PTSD after living though some hellacious school scenarios (students getting killed, students killing each other, etc.) I kept thinking about how much we need to be needed.
Dave and I have been through a good bit this last year. He had surgery on his foot, and, shortly after, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am not going to sugar-coat anything and say it was a fun year. But I do know this: Dave appreciated how much I needed him before, during and after my surgeries to get rid of the cancer. The year brought us even closer than we were before, which we both believed was impossible to do.
What does it mean? I think we do a halfway job of telling other people how we really feel, but compound that with the obstacles we encounter at work, and you’ll likely find it nearly impossible to truly communicate in the workplace. Why?
Here are tidbits that people say:
“I don’t want to sound weak by sharing my feelings at work.”
“I don’t trust my boss. Why would I share anything with her?”
“Work is not the place to share feelings.”
“If I tell my boss I am in treatment for alcoholism, I may never get that promotion.”
“Guys don’t share feelings.”
But, what if….
What if we shared how we felt a little more…even at work? I know a place where that happens. I know of a school where many people come to work to get fed, spiritually and emotionally. I know of a school where parents say, “They actually know my name and seem to really care about me and my child(ren).” What difference does that make? you may ask. It makes a huge difference to those who are emotionally fragile or emotionally stable. People want to feel loved and people want to feel needed. One of my favorite Episcopal priests ever (Father Arnold) knew the value in making people feel needed. We had just moved to Florida and I was church hopping. You know what I mean. I was slipping in, quietly, to one church at a time, just to check it out but not wanting to be noticed. As the service was concluded at my first visit, the woman in front of me turned around and said, “You can sing. We need you in the choir.” The next thing I knew, I was being dragged (well, maybe not dragged, exactly, but stick with me) to Father Arnold (so much for quiet and subtle visit), who shook my hand and asked what I did. I told him I was a guidance counselor at a middle school. He smiled a big, broad smile and said, “Great. We need someone to help out with youth group. Can you come next Sunday and join in?” The next thing I knew, I was a member of the church, a member of the choir and I was teaching/advising youth group every Sunday. He had figured out the secret to getting people hooked: make them feel needed.
Perhaps we need to realize that telling people how we feel and telling them how much they are needed may save them and save ourselves, in the same breath. Last but not least, one of my dearest friends ever texted me today. Michelle is one of my girlfriend champions. She lifts me up when I am down. She said, “Where is your blog?” She missed me when I forgot to blog last week. I love her for missing me but I love her even more for telling me.
One of my favorite songs talks about not taking people for granted or we might just miss them when they are gone. Take a look at Anna Kendrick’s “When I’m Gone”. And then go tell someone how you feel about them!!