Things left unsaid

So many times in life, you have encounters and experiences with people who you really feel made a difference in your life. You may admire their work ethic, skill or just appreciate their friendship. Whatever it might be, you assume that they know how you feel about them, the impact they have had on your life and that they are appreciated – you might think “Wow, that person really is a natural leader” or “I really appreciate this person’s friendship”, but you neglect to actually TELL this to them. You come up with reasons that you don’t need to actually tell this person what you think. “I’m sure they already know how I feel or how valuable they are”. Really? When is the last time you think someone told them that? I think the answer may surprise you.

Recently, I was at a retreat and I heard Patrick Lencioni speak on the the 5 dysfunctions of a team. In the presentation, Mr. Lencioni went over the characteristics of a good leader. As he was listing out the traits, one specific person popped into my head – this person was a natural born leader, she possessed every single trait of a good leader. She didn’t need to be coached or taught – she just understood how to motivate a team of people working with her – she just “got it” – leadership came naturally to her. This woman was such an excellent leader and highly respected by all who worked for her. I thought to myself “Has anyone ever bothered to actually TELL her that?” So I went up to my hotel room and I typed up an email to her. I can honestly say it was not self-motivated. I no longer work for this person, but I felt she needed to know what everyone was saying behind her back, but not directly to her – especially since it was so positive. In the email, I recounted the information from the presentation and how it related to how I felt when I worked on her team. I also told her that I had heard the same sentiments echoed by all who worked with her. She responded and said that she really appreciated me taking the time to tell her that and that my message came at a time where she really appreciated the feedback. So many times we say things ABOUT people, but not TO the people that we need to say them to.

This reminds me of a story that I receive every few years in email – one of those dreaded forwarded messages. This one is a good one, though – and it checks out via snopes. The story is about a nun who asks her students to write something positive about each one of their classmates and then gives each student the list of positive things that were written about them. This has an impact on them for the rest of their lives.

Think about those words that you’ve been meaning to say to someone, but you haven’t gotten around to it. Take the time to call or write and tell them  how you feel. What do you have to lose? Maybe someone will do the same for you and goodness will come back around. That is my wish for you :)

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