The average figure is 16,000 words. Even then, much of what we say can be meaningless chit-chat, brisk, necessary exchanges or even angry rants. Here are ten things that we could all do with saying more often. While reading, I’ll bet you believe the list is pretty simplistic. However, the positive impact they will have on your mood and your day is pretty dramatic.
How often do you sit silently next to someone on a train, or in a waiting room? How often do you stand tapping your foot in a line at the post office or bank? Just saying a simple “Hello” or “Hi” to the person next to you, and offering them a smile, could give you an instant mood-boost. And you might even get into a conversation to pass the time while you’re waiting.
- “Thank you.”
It’s hard to say “thank you” too often. Even when you feel someone’s performing a service that they should do by the nature of their job, thanking them will make both of you feel good. How about saying “thank you” to your employees or subordinates when they carry out a task for you, “thank you” to the girl at the checkout when she packs your bags for you, “thank you” to the waiter who brings your meals… Those two small words of gratitude can mean a lot.
A word which we often associate with “thank you”, perhaps because we were taught to say both as young children, is “please”. Using this little word turns a demand into a request – and makes people much happier about fulfilling it. When you queue up for a coffee at Starbucks, don’t just bark “Venti Mocha Frappuccino” at the barista – add a “please”. When asking your partner to pass the salt at dinner, put in that “please”. It doesn’t just set a great example for your kids, it sets a tone of politeness and mutual respect.
- “Here, take my seat.”
Most of us are lucky enough to be fairly able-bodied and can easily stand on trains and buses without risking falling over. If you see someone elderly, pregnant or struggling in any way (perhaps a mother with a small child), offer them your seat. If you’re worried you’ll accidentally offend them, add a “I’m getting off soon” or something slightly jokey like “I could do with stretching my legs.”
- “This one’s on me.”
Out for drinks with a friend or acquaintance? Rather than insisting on splitting the bill straight down the middle, offer to buy for both of you. It’s nice to feel generous, and to feel that you’re receiving a gift – and your friend can reciprocate next time, if s/he wants. A note of caution: if you are a lot better off financially than your drinking partner, be sensitive about this.
- “Let me help you with that.”
If you see someone struggling, offer to help. They may rebuff you, but most people will be touched and grateful – you’ll get to make their day a little bit easier, which will put a dash of joy into yours. You might offer to help someone who’s:
- Struggling with getting a wheelchair up or down steps
- Lifting heavy luggage onto a train
- Carrying an overladen tray across a café
- Having difficulties reading a notice or leaflet
- Keep an eye out for other situations where you can make yourself useful!
- “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m [name].”
Many of us aren’t great at introducing ourselves. If you meet someone new, don’t just mumble about the weather or say nothing but “hi”; tell them your name, and ask theirs. It’s awkward to talk to someone for ten minutes before having to say “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” so be confident and upfront when meeting new people.
- “What I’m really passionate about is…”
So often, conversations revolve around matters of little consequence to both the speaker and the listener. If you feel that most of what you say is just small talk, try going deeper. Obviously, this doesn’t mean boring the person next to you on the bus with your entire life story – but when you’re getting to know someone, share some of your hobbies and interests, or tell them about your big life plans. You never know, you might have found a kindred spirit.
- “Have a great day!”
Although phrases like “have a nice day” can be overused by shopworkers and telesales staff, it’s still worth wishing people a good day, evening or weekend when you part. Speak with genuine enthusiasm, and you’ll almost certainly get a smile and a “thanks, you too!” in response – a great way to end a conversation on a high note.
- “I love you.”
Lastly, those three most important words; “I love you.” Do you say these enough to the people who you love? Don’t just think about your partner here – how about your kids, your parents, your grandma? It’s easy to assume that people “just know” we love them, but sometimes hearing those little words can really make someone’s day.
What phrases do you think we should all be saying more often? What do you make an effort to say in order to bring a smile to someone’s face?
|Written on 12/28/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.||Photo Credit: AnyaLogic|