10 Small Things That Make A Big Impact
Good Habits That Will Better Yourself & Everyone Around You
I get it, you’re busy, but I don’t think you’re too busy to do any one of these ten things that can make a big impact on the people in your life. The truth is, everyone is busy and everyone has things they need to do. The people who take the extra time to follow these ten practices see a world of difference for themselves.
Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are
— Harold S. Kushner
These are 10 small things that make a big impact on the people around you. Another great way to think of these would be “10 passive ways to grow your network” or “10 ways to make more people like you”. I’ve not only tested each and every one of these methods but I currently practice all ten of them and they all work like charms in my day to day life.
#1 Showing Appreciation
It can’t be expressed how important it is to say “thank you” and show appreciation when someone does something for you or something that benefits you. Nothing will leave a bad taste in someone's mouth like them doing something kind for you and then you just taking it for granted instead of showing appreciation. Just say “thank you”…that’s all you have to do. It’s not a sign of weakness or anything like that. It’s a kindness that can travel many miles and make a deal of difference to most people.
If you do something nice for me and I show my appreciation for what you’ve done then chances are you’ll do something nice for me again. If I didn’t say anything you’d probably think I was rude and likely wouldn’t do anything nice for me for a long time.
Even though most people are aware of this seems obvious a lot of people still don’t practice it. If you’ve been invited to someone else's house for dinner then when you’re leaving thank them for the invitation, compliment the foot, and compliment their house. A few words of praise can go a long way. If you interview for a job then before you leave to thank them for the chance to interview. Also, consider sending them a follow-up email thanking them again for the chance to interview as well as show your seriousness for the position you’ve interviewed for.
It’s not like you’ve got to care deeply about every single person and ask everyone in your life how their day was every single day. That’s nice but also not what I mean by caring. If you show people that you care with small gestures it will go a long way and stick with people.
One example of this would be remembering someone's name when you first meet them. Remembering a name shows that you cared enough to remember the person, listen to them, and were invested in the exchange as opposed to making mindless small talk which you’d forget about five minutes after it happens.
While people won’t typically hold it against you when you forget their names and it’s not a big deal, it will have a lasting impression if you remember their name from the first time you meet because it shows respect and more importantly that you cared enough to remember that person.
There are plenty of other small things you can do to show others you care like
- Ask how they’ve been since you last saw them
- Ask what they do
- Elaborate on the things they also like
Those questions sound like small talk, right?
Well, yes but the difference is what you do when you ask and when they reply. First, you ask like you actually want to know the response. Second, listen and remember what you’re told.
It’s something that will likely take some time and practice to remember what you’ve talked about but when you bring it up in conversation later it will show a lot about you to the other person.
If you say you’re going to be someplace at 5:00 PM then be there on time or early. Doing this shows that you’re trustworthy and reliable.
Your friends don’t need that, your boss won’t take that, and your family doesn’t deserve that. Show up on time.
Jake: “Hey man, Game Night starts at 5:00. Can you make it?”
Nick: “Yeah man, I’ll be there for sure!”
Jake: “Cool man, see you soon”
Jake: “You still coming?”
Nick: “Sorry, I fell asleep…”
When you do this once in a while it may not seem like an issue but it’s a test of discipline. If you say you’re going to do something or be somewhere you should make a point to show up on time.
Saying you’re going to do something then not doing it will break down your discipline over time. This happens with working out, writing, waking up early, and anything else that’s commonly considered a routine. Be consistent for your own sake and the sake of those around you. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll be better off.
It’s important to always be learning and becoming a better version of yourself than you were the previous day. We learn from many sources including literature, our environments (work, gym, home life, etc.), and the most important of all, other people.
The smartest human alive can learn many things from even the dumbest if they keep an open mind. You can learn by their successes and their failures. It’s up to you to see what can be learned and not what they do wrong. Pessimism isn’t a good look and usually, it doesn’t benefit people very much. It’s better to take a humble approach and learn what you can in a given situation no matter how inopportune.
Beyond that, many people when you meet and talk to them will disclose a lot about who they are, their personality, and what they want in life quickly.
In just a few informal meetings with the CEO of a business solutions company, I could tell you what drives him, why he started his company, who his target audience is, and what tasks he enjoys in his company (and also the tasks that he hates). Keep in mind, I’ve had two conversations with him where I didn’t ask any questions around what I learned. I talked about work. I do business solutions and so does he. He uses Font Awesome and I work with Font Awesome. You can always learn more than you think.
Not just listen but know how to listen. If you aren’t a good listener then learn how to listen. When talking to someone if the things you say interrupt the person or what you say points the conversation back to yourself somehow every time then you’re doing something wrong.
Pointing back to yourself in a conversation isn’t always a bad thing. In many cases, it’s good as it points out something you have in common with the person. But beware, doing it all the time can seem like you only care about yourself and not what the other person is talking about. This leaves a bad taste in people's mouths.
A good way to truly listen to someone is to do just that. Don’t talk or offer suggestions until the person is done talking. If they look at you nod your head or show you’re listening but don’t interrupt the other person. Too many people interrupt others as they talk. So much so that interrupting people while they’re talking has become the norm in today's society it seems.
Just because something is the norm in society doesn’t mean it should be your personal practice also. In fact, showing more kindness for others can greatly help you and make you stand out in business or to anyone you speak to. Learning how to truly listen and reply to someone can make a world of difference in your day to day interactions with people. Listening comes into play with pretty much anyone in your life. This could be friends, bosses, teachers, family, or anyone else. It’s a skill that’s greatly undervalued by most but appreciated by all, whether they realize it or not.
One of the most important skills anyone can possess. It’s the difference between believing you are owed respect and actually commanding that respect from those around you.
The best skill a new developer can have is the ability to say “I don’t know”
— Travis Chase (CTO of Font Awesome)
Mr. Chase works for Font Awesome, a company that builds icon sets for use in web and other forms of development. He has hired a hand full of new developers this year and the quote above has been something I’ve heard him say a number of times and it’s always stuck with me.
Not knowing something isn’t the end of the world and shouldn’t be considered a big deal but it often is. Everyone at some time in their lives won’t know something in their profession. They’ll have to look it up or ask someone else.
Having humility in your profession and life, in general, is a great thing that will help you in many ways. Doing things like admitting when you’re wrong and saying you don’t know something will take you a long way in life. Showing arrogance is despised by many and will prove problematic in your professional as well as personal life.
#7 Be Kind
People are kind but not always for the right reasons. Some people are kind in order to manipulate others into giving them what they want or they’re kind because they expect something in return. If you do either of these things then you’re not being genuinely kind. You’re being kind for selfish motives and that’s not a good practice in life.
Be kind for the sake of being kind. Be kind and expect nothing in return. You won’t be let down and others will be able to tell where your kindness comes from. They’ll know it comes from the goodness of your heart and not the goal of receiving something after you’ve been kind.
If you can explain what you’re doing as a mentor to someone new and make them get it then you’re a master. If you can’t then that’s why you’re mentoring
Some say that mentoring often times helps the mentor as much as the pupil. How? Well, in order to mentor you have to explain what’s going on with the subject matter. If you can make it make sense to the pupil then you, the mentor, have a solid grasp of what’s going on. If you can’t, it’s not a problem, it just means you need more practice and should find a different way to explain.
When teaching you’ll often find that you’re learning while you teach unless you truly know the content to a point of mastery.
Mentoring is a fun experience that is also educational for both the mentor and the pupil. There should be no fear of ‘failure’ as a mentor in many cases. If you don’t know something then reach out to someone who does. Someone who can clear things up for both of you. As mentioned before, everyone doesn’t know something at some point in their lives.
It’s a great way to further solidify the concepts of your craft as well as prove mastery.
#9 Investing In Your Future
Many of these tips rely on interaction with others to better yourself and them; however, this one is all on you. When you plan for your future, both long and short term, you’re effectively setting yourself up for success by not flying by the seat of your pants. Here are a few examples of ways to invest in your future:
- Plan your morning routine to a tee to begin your day productively
- Save money
- Exercise often
- Set goals for yourself both long term and short term
- Figure out what you need and want to do next week and schedule it so you have a road map to follow through your week. (Sunday is a great day for doing this)
- Practice your skills. These could be things like building a website if you want to be a developer or even learning a new language like Spanish.
Investing in your future can mean a lot of different things. It’s not always just money but sometimes it is. If you’re organized and prepare for your future then you’ll reduce the stress and seemingly randomness of your day to day life.
You’ll find that you don’t have to make as many impulsive decisions as you used to. There will be a game plan that you can look at to find out your next step.
#10 Holding Doors Open
Not just holding doors open for yourself but for others too. Just because you don’t have the need for a new job, client, or contact right now doesn't mean you’ll never need one so be kind.
It’s becoming more common than people think they’re set for life so they scoff at others who are looking for someone to fill a position or looking for an agency to do some work for their smaller company. Even if you turn the opportunity down you should keep it polite and honest. You may need that job in the future and it could be a good move for you. Likewise, if your agency loses a client or grows a bit it means you could pick up that other client.
The point is not to burn bridges of people who are interested in you, your services, or your company. Hold yourself to a higher level of professionalism than most and don’t burn your bridges.
If you’re on the other end of it don’t burn bridges just because someone declines to work for you or declines to take you on as a client as long as they do it respectfully. It’s not personal, it’s just business and you need to remember that. It shouldn’t be taken as a personal insult because 9/10 times it’s not meant as one.
Wrapping It Up
I found a nondescript list of these 10 things on Instagram and decided to see if I could flesh each out a bit.
What tips would you give to help others better themselves? Which of these do you think is the most important? Which is the least? Let’s talk about it in the responses down below!