Are you known as a thoughtful person? You likely think of “thoughtful” as a positive attribute and would receive it as a compliment to be considered thoughtful. But do you purposely pursue being thoughtful?
Thoughtfulness is about more than simply being nice. You can be nice without much reflection or consideration.
Thoughtful people are those who pay attention to the people around them, reflect on the situation, and then choose to react and act in a purposeful and loving way. It takes a bit more consideration and time than simply being nice.
Thoughtfulness results in positive actions. You can observe a situation where someone needs help or encouragement and choose to do nothing for many reasons. An unthoughtful person wouldn’t likely notice the other person needed help.
- Slow down. It is nearly impossible to be thoughtful when you’re going 100 mph with your hair on fire. Thoughtfulness requires space to think and reflect. A few extra moments to consider the situation and the person is all you need to get otherwise missed insights.
- Give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t you give yourself the benefit of the doubt? I know I do. While you and I have always seem to have good reasons for what we do, we often ascribe negative motivations and intent to the actions of others. When you have a choice, err on the side of the positive. A person may be facing a difficult situation and that is why they acted the way they did.
- Dig deeper. Going beyond the surface of most interactions is almost always a good idea. Thoughtfulness implies consideration. Asking a few questions is all it takes to uncover useful information and enrich the relationship. And it proves you aren’t jumping to conclusions. Others appreciate and feel valued when you consider them and what they are saying.
- Express empathy. Empathy means understanding how another feels even if you don’t feel that way. You don’t have to agree with someone to understand them, and this understanding creates a bridge for connection. Lack of understanding can make the other feel like you are judging him or her.
- Act accordingly. What can you do to show how you feel? Simply listening is good. Acting on what you hear is far better. Consider: what might I do to support or help given the situation?
- Check back. If someone says they’re struggling at work, don’t just express concern: check back later to see how they’re doing and if you can encourage them. Circling back proves you heard what the person was saying and are concerned enough to follow up.
More intentionally thoughtful people in the world would make it a better place to live. Why not choose to be one of those people?