We may never know the impact our words and actions have on others. Or if and when we do, it may be many years later. I had two examples of this in recent days, and I am still amazed by them. Since I can’t get these examples out of my mind, I thought hearing about them might be interesting to my readers.
I met a woman at a conference recently who worked with my husband many years ago. We were both struck by that fact when we figured out the connection. She recognized my name, and since it is an unusual name, after a few minutes of talking across a luncheon table, she posed the question about my husband and where they both worked more than twenty years ago. While she had some not so nice memories of another employee at the company, she remembered several sweet things about Mike and proceeded to tell me about them. She still remembers something positive Mike said to her once, something that this many years later has stayed with her. Additionally, she remembers some things the person she does not have a fond memory of said to her. She also remembers several positive things Mike said about me during that time, calling me his “bride,” which he still does, although we just celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. What an impression of positivity Mike made on this person, to the point that she remembers him in such a favorable light and shared these examples with those at our luncheon table.
That same night I saw someone at a social function who I have known for the same number of years that Mike and I have been together, but someone that I do not see very often. She and I were going down memory lane remembering times together in a dance club, the Wilson Cotillion, of which her husband and she and Mike and I were founding members. She mentioned a memory of me during one of the early years that I would never have thought made such an impression, my fresh ground coffee! During the early years, we would often go to someone’s home for breakfast after the dance. We hosted the first one of those and I, as I still do to this day, ground my coffee before making it. That made such an impression on my friend that she has remembered that for all of these years.
Now, grinding my coffee is not in the same league as Mike being such a positive person and making such positive comments to someone at a time and about something that she obviously treasured then and many years later. But these are both examples of how we sometimes may not know the impact our words and actions have on others. We can probably all remember words we have spoken and the actions we took that had the opposite effect on others. I can remember one from the same day of the conference I just mentioned, words that I spoke that were true and even important, said in response to a comment someone made. The comment I made was factual and not said in a mean manner, but the minute the words escaped my mouth, I regretted them. But they were gone, and I could not retrieve them.
There is so much negativity today. It behooves all of us to be as kind as we can be to others. We have no idea how many demons may be circling around, and our words and actions can help or hinder.
As Maya Angelo so wisely said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”